TRACKING THE ZAGS is a regular daily feature of the Gonzaga University News Service during tournament play. This series will run through the end of Gonzaga’s postseason play, and will chronicle in words, video and photographs the sights, sounds, fan reaction and behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into Zag basketball, for both men and women. Catch games reports at GoZags.com. Check out alumni events associated with the West Coast Conference Tournament at Zagsonline.org.
TRACKING THE ZAGS
March 5, 2010
By Dale Goodwin
LAS VEGAS – Last year’s gamble paid off. The West Coast Conference made more money on its postseason basketball tournament than ever before. And the extravaganza has returned to Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena for another round this year. All tickets are sold out.
The tournament opens today with two games on the women’s side and two on the men’s. Today’s winners meet the third and fourth finishers in both men’s and women’s play on Saturday. Gonzaga’s two teams will arrive here on Saturday, and play semifinal games on Sunday – the top-seeded and defending tournament champion women meeting the survivor of No. 4 Portland, No. 5 San Diego and No. 8 Santa Clara at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, and the top-seeded and defending champion Gonzaga men meeting the survivor of No. 4 San Francisco, No. 5 Loyola Marymount and No. 8 Pepperdine Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
The women’s game will be broadcast on radio station KGA 1510 AM in Spokane. The men’s game will air on KGA and KEYF 101.1 FM, in addition to being televised on ESPN2.
The tournament moved to Las Vegas last year after being played for 22 years at one of the conference schools. The move to a neutral site evened the playing field, and Las Vegas proved to be an ideal destination for the schools’ fans. Last year’s tournament set an all-time attendance record with 33,320 fans attending, including a record 7,845 for last year’s men’s championship game between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s.
The Orleans Arena is connected to The Orleans Hotel and Casino, which is about 1 mile west of the strip on Tropicana Boulevard. The hotel includes a 70-lane bowling alley, an 18-screen movie theater, arcade, spa, 14 restaurants and snack shops, and 1,886 rooms, which have all sold out for the tournament.
Gonzaga men have won nine of the last 11 WCC tournaments. The Zags are ranked 14th in the nation by ESPN/USA Today, and 18th in the AP Poll. The Zags are 25-5 on the season, and won their 10th straight regular season title. They are led by senior Matt Bouldin, voted the league’s Player of the Year, and All-WCC selections junior Steven Gray and freshman Elias Harris. Harris also was named Newcomer of the Year. Coach Mark Few earned his eighth Coach of the Year honor in 11 years at the Bulldog helm.
Gonzaga women have won two of the last three WCC tournaments. The lady Zags are ranked 17th in both AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. They are 25-4 overall, and finished the league season 14-0, the first team to ever register that feat twice (2004-05). Coach Kelly Graves picked up his fifth WCC Coach of the Year honor, junior Courtney Vandersloot was named Player of the Year, sophomore Kaitlan Redmon Newcomer of the Year, and seniors Heather Bowman and Vivian Friesen were named first-team All-WCC.