Aug. 25, 2007
PULLMAN, Wash. - Thirteen games against fellow-2007 postseason participants, "home" games at Spokane and Seattle and an appearance in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series highlight the 2007-08 Washington State University men's basketball schedule as announced by head coach Tony Bennett, Friday.
WSU will play 16 "home" games, including 12 in Pullman, a three-game tournament at the Spokane Arena (Nov. 23-25) and one game at Seattle's KeyArena. (Dec. 20).
"Last year we played more home games," Bennett said. "This year, with a more experienced group, the challenge will be going on the road four times in the nonconference season."
The Cougars open up the season at home against Eastern Washington (Nov. 9), renewing an in-state rivalry that dates back to the 1906-07 season. The two teams haven't met since WSU's 91-72 victory at Cheney during the 1998-99 season.
"We start off with Eastern Washington, which is the first time we've played EWU in awhile," Bennett said. "We should have an exciting atmosphere, with it being Dad's Weekend."
The grueling road schedule opens up at Boise State (Nov. 13), followed by a road matchup at Baylor (Nov. 30) in the first Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. WSU's final two nonconference road games include 2007 NCAA Tournament participant and in-state rival, Gonzaga (Dec. 5) and Idaho State (Dec. 23).
"We've got a tough nonconference road schedule with Boise State, Baylor, Gonzaga and Idaho State on the road," Bennett said. "Boise State will be tough after taking us down to the wire last year in Spokane. We follow that up with a trip to Baylor for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, which features a Big 12 team with an extreme amount of talent. We close out the stretch with trips to Gonzaga, which everybody knows will be a high-level game, and Idaho State. The four challenging road games will hopefully get us battle-tested for the Pac-10 season."
Joining Eastern Washington on the home schedule are games against Idaho (Nov. 16), Portland State (Dec. 9) and North Carolina A&T (Dec. 28), Air Force (Nov. 23), Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 24) and Montana (Nov. 25) at the Cougar Hispanic College Fund Classic at Spokane Arena and The Citadel (Dec. 20) at KeyArena.
The Cougar Hispanic College Fund Classic features two 2007 NIT participants in Air Force and Mississippi Valley State, and regional-foe Montana.
"We are excited to have Air Force, Montana and Mississippi Valley State in Spokane for the tournament," Bennett said. "Air Force was a top-20 team for most of the season last year, Mississippi Valley State won its conference and appeared in the NIT last year and Montana will be picked near the top of its conference and will draw a good crowd. In the past we've had a game in Spokane, but this year having a tournament in Spokane is great for our program to get exposure and exciting for our fans, especially with our students gone from Pullman for break."
The Cougar Harwood Classic returns to KeyArena as WSU takes on cross-country opponent, The Citadel.
"I think we've got a good thing going with Seattle," Bennett said. "This is the third year in a row we've done this. Every year we get more fans and everyone gets excited. It's usually right before Christmas, and again our students are off campus, so it's a great time for that. I think it's good for our program and good for our fans on the West Side."
The Cougars' other five 2007 NCAA Tournament teams on the schedule this season come from the Pacific-10 in USC (away, Jan. 10/home, Feb. 9), UCLA (away, Jan. 12/home, Feb. 7), Oregon (home, Jan. 20/away, Feb. 16), Arizona (away, Jan. 24/home, Feb. 23) and Stanford (home, Feb. 2/away, March 1).
"The Pac-10 itself has six or seven teams ranked in the preseason top-25, Bennett said. "Our league will be absolutely outstanding. We've got 18 games where we've better be ready to go. We open the Pac-10 season with three road games in a row, which is going to be obviously very challenging. The schedule in general is going to be hard-fought."
WSU concludes its regular season at home against its biggest rival, Washington (March 8/away, Jan. 5).
"That game has a lot of passion and energy regardless, but since it's the last game our seniors will play on this court, I think there will be a lot of emotion in the building," Bennett said. "I couldn't think of a better last game. I think it will be a wonderful atmosphere and hopefully it means a lot for a lot of reasons. It will be a big draw, I'm sure."
The remainder of the schedule includes Oregon State (home, Jan. 17/away, Feb. 14), Arizona State (away, Jan. 26/home, Feb. 21) and California (home, Jan. 31/away, March 1).
The Pacific-10 Tournament takes place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 12-15.