March 11, 2002
Oakland, Calif. - Four schools on their way to the 2002 NCAA Tournament-Kansas, the No. 1-seeded team in the Midwest, plus Gonzaga, Stanford and California--comprise a stellar field for the sixth-annual Pete Newell Challenge, set for Saturday, Dec. 28, at The Arena in Oakland. The announcement was made today by Jeff Fellenzer, president of Pacific Palisades, Calif.-based Innovative Sports Management and creator of the Pete Newell Challenge.
Kansas (29-3), one of the storied programs in college basketball and a pre-tournament favorite to advance to this year's Final Four in Atlanta, will play Cal (22-8), which returns to the Pete Newell Challenge after a one-year absence. Cal was picked as the No. 6-seeded team in the South Regional.
The other half of the doubleheader includes another intriguing matchup, as West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga (29-3), seeded 6th in the West Regional, meets Stanford (19-9), the No. 8-seeded team in the Midwest. Both Cal and Stanford have perfect 4-0 records in the Pete Newell Challenge.
Each game of the 2002 event offers a rematch of a memorable NCAA Tournament contest involving Bay Area teams.
On March 25, 1993, Kansas ended Cal's surprising NCAA Tournament run in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis, eliminating the Golden Bears and star freshman guard Jason Kidd, 93-76. Kansas and Cal last met in the second round of the 1996 Maui Invitational, with the Jayhawks winning, 85-67. Kansas leads the all-time series against Cal, 12-3.
Gonzaga beat Stanford, 82-74, in the second round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament in Seattle, part of a magical ride for the Bulldogs that ended with a loss to eventual national champion Connecticut, 67-62, at the West Regional final in Phoenix. Gonzaga also won at Stanford, 80-76, in the first round of the 1994 National Invitation Tournament. Those are the only meetings ever between the two schools.
In just five years, the Pete Newell Challenge has become one of the premier events in college basketball. Kansas and Gonzaga join an impressive list of Pete Newell Challenge past participants that includes such top national programs as Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Mississippi State and Brigham Young.
Among the elite coaches who have brought their teams to the Bay Area are Hall of Famers Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bob Knight (Indiana) and John Chaney (Temple), plus Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Bill Guthridge (North Carolina) and Jim Harrick (Georgia).
Four outstanding coaches-Roy Williams (Kansas), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Mike Montgomery (Stanford) and Ben Braun (Cal)-will direct their teams in the 2002 Pete Newell Challenge.
Williams has led Kansas to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 13 consecutive 20-win seasons, and the Final Four in 1991 and 1993. Now in his 14th season as the KU coach, Williams has a career record of 384-92. His overall winning percentage of .806 is the highest among active Division I coaches with at least six years' experience.
Few is considered a rising star in the coaching profession, having compiled a three-year record of 78-19 (.804) at Gonzaga, since taking over in 1999. Gonzaga, Duke and Michigan State are the only schools to reach the Sweet 16 each of the past three seasons. Gonzaga will be making its second appearance in the Pete Newell Challenge. In 1999, the Zags, minus star forward Casey Calvary (flu), lost to Cal, 72-64.
In two of the past four years, the Pete Newell Challenge has attracted the largest crowd in California college basketball history. On Dec. 21, 2000, a record crowd of 19,804 watched Stanford knock off top-ranked Duke, 84-83, on Casey Jacobsen's jumper with 3.6 seconds to play. In the second game, Cal beat Georgia, 85-64.
Two years earlier, on Dec. 29, 1998, a then-record crowd of 19,657 saw Cal beat North Carolina, 78-71, and Stanford defeat Temple, 57-50.
The Pete Newell Challenge was created to honor the Hall of Fame legend who won a coaching version of the Triple Crown--an NIT championship at USF (1949), an NCAA title at Cal (1959) and an Olympic gold medal for the United States (Rome, 1960).
Newell, who will turn 87 on Aug. 31, continues to teach both college and professional players--men and women--through clinics and seminars around the world, and at his annual Pete Newell Big Man Camp in Honolulu. This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the highly regarded camp.
Last week, Newell was chosen for the inaugural class of the Pac-10 Men's Basketball Hall of Honor, representing Cal.
"We are very pleased to have such high-quality programs, plus four of our most successful coaches, in this year's Challenge," said Pete Newell. "I have great respect for the Kansas Jayhawk basketball program, and for its place in helping to establish college basketball as a great sport, going back to Dr. James Naismith and Phog Allen.
"Roy Williams is one of the real fine coaches in the game, and Kansas has been one of the finest programs in the history of the game. We are honored to have them. It's also great to have Gonzaga back. They have really added something, not just to our event, but to college basketball in general, with their success. They have been consistently good."
Game times and television coverage of the 2002 Pete Newell Challenge will be announced at a later date. The event has been nationally televised in each year of its existence by Fox Sports Net.
Tickets for the 2002 Pete Newell Challenge will go on sale in October, through all tickets.com outlets in the Bay Area and at The Arena in Oakland box office. For more ticket information, call tickets.com at (510) 762-2277. Outside California, dial toll-free (800) 225-2277. Or call the arena at (510) 569-2121.