The schedule is out and the season is just around the corner. The Zags will open up the regular season against the Yellowjackets of Montana State-Billings out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Last Season's Results: To say the MSUB struggled last year would a severe understatement. The Jackets went 1-28 on the season in Division II play with their only victory coming against Alaska Fairbanks. Subsequently, MSUB and head coach Craig Carse parted ways after Carse's 13th season on the job. The new coach for the Yellowjackets should be very familiar for Gonzaga fans. George Pfeifer has taken over in Billings after being fired at the University of Idaho. Pfeifer spent two years as the Idaho head man and guided the Vandals to a 12-48 record. If you don't remember Pfeifer, this picture should help you remember. Pfeifer did a good job at Lewis-Clark State College but his tenure at Idaho was abysmal.
New Faces: Along with the change at head coach, the Yellowjackets have signed 5 recruits for the 2008-09 season. Mario Burns, Derrick Wright, Ryan Meehan, D.J. Fish, Lance Anderson, and Brad Hodge will all be beginning their Yellowjacket career this season. MSUB is a popular landing spot for many junior college players and that is the case with this recruiting class. Anderson, Hodge, Burns and Wright are all former junior college players. Mario Burns has had an interesting path to Billings. He graduated from Mojave High School (high school of Anthony Marshall) 8 years ago! He has traveled through the Juco ranks but still has some eligibility left. Pfeifer has already signed a couple guys for the 09-10 season including a transfer from the University of Wyoming.
Players to Watch: It's not all bad news for MSUB. Last season was headlined by two freshman guards, Aaron Terry and John Stewart, who had an instant impact for the Yellowjackets. Terry and Stewart were two of the top three leading scorers for the Yellowjackets last season with 12.9 and 13.8 points, respectively. Another freshman that had an impact for MSUB was Cameron Khoury. The 6'9'' freshman led the team in rebounds with five a game and also added six points. It's a youthful team with some talented players and they are counting on Pfeifer to give them some direction.
TKR's Concern-O-Meter: As low as possible, I mean, come on! The Zags should dominate this game from start to finish and that is exactly why Coach Few scheduled this game. Gonzaga has three games to prepare for the insanely difficult Old Spice Classic. Each game should be a confidence builder before departing for Orlando.
What We are Watching for: If nothing else, this should be a huge game for the Gonzaga big men. MSUB is extremely thin and young down low and this should really be a statement game for Robert Sacre and Josh Heytvelt. They should completely dominate the interior and make this game a blowout from the very start. I'm excited to see the guard play for MSUB. Aaron Terry seems to be a guard with some size so that should be a fun match up. Overall, you can't take much from this match up because, well, it's Montana State-Billings but it's college basketball so it's all good!