March 2, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Bronco men's basketball team arrived in Spokane, Wash. this afternoon with little fanfare to play in the 20th annual West Coast Conference Championships at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Santa Clara travel party boarded its Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose Mineta International Airport with mild temperatures and sunny skies. After quick stops in Reno, Nev. and Boise, Idaho, the group arrived in Spokane at approximately 3:30 p.m. to cloudy skies and 40 degree weather.
"It is a little chillier than back at home," said SCU freshman John Bryant. "But, we are all excited to be here and to try to win the tournament. It's a new season for us and we are going to give it our best shot."
Earlier in the afternoon, a group of approximately 50 Santa Clara Ruff Riders and cheerleaders arrived in Spokane to support their beloved Broncos. The spirit groups attended the WCC regular-season champion women's basketball team in its 83-77 first round win over Portland.
Also in attendance were the coaches and players of the men's team as well as athletic director Dan Coonan and several members of his staff.
"I'm so glad that we have such a good turnout tonight," said Coonan. "From our women's team selecting the 6 p.m. game so the Ruff Riders and cheerleaders could attend, to the men's team finishing its practice in time to come over to the game. It really just shows that there is such a strong level of support for our teams."
Bronco sophomore Mitch Henke spoke to the importance of coming out to support the women's team in the tournament.
"We don't get a chance to support the women that often since we are usually on the road while they are playing," said Henke. "The women work hard and they won the WCC title. They deserve the support and we are really happy to be here."
The tournament, which began today with all eight league women's teams playing their first round games, is being played in Spokane for the first time ever. The sixth-seeded Bronco men play seventh-seeded Portland in their first round game tomorrow night at approximately 8 p.m. Pepperdine plays San Diego play the first game of the session at 6 p.m.
Before the women's game, the Broncos went through a one-hour workout in the Martin Centre on the Gonzaga University campus. The team worked out the kinks following a full day of travel and got a quick refresher on the Pilots. Following a team dinner, the players and coaches will study film before heading to sleep.
On Saturday, the team will conduct its normal routine of going through a walk-through in the McCarthey Center to fully prepare for the Pilots.
"Portland is really playing well right now and we are really going to have to produce our best effort to have a chance to beat them tomorrow night," said sophomore guard Brody Angley. "But, on the flip side, we are playing with a lot of confidence and I think we have as good of a chance to have success here as anyone else in the league."
Friday night's first round game will air in the Bay Area on KNTS-AM 1220 as well as worldwide on the Internet via Broncos All-Access. Live Gametracker coverage will also be available on SantaClaraBroncos.com.