Two of the top draws in college men’s basketball are coming to the Bay Area this weekend, as Texas Tech and Nevada join Cal and Stanford in the 10th annual Pete Newell Challenge.
Sunday’s event will be held at HP Pavilion in San Jose and features legendary coach Bob Knight and Texas Tech (6-2) taking on Stanford (5-1) at 3:30 p.m. and national Player of the Year candidate Nick Fazekas and 24th-ranked Nevada (6-0) against Cal (6-1) at 6 p.m.
Knight, making only his fifth Bay Area appearance in a 41-year coaching career, will be honored before the tournament tips off with the Pete Newell Challenge Career Achievement Award for significant contributions to basketball.
Newell (the renowned former coach of Cal and USF) and Knight sparked a relationship in the late 1960s and still speak over the phone regularly.
“Nobody in the history of the game has spoken at more clinics than Bobby,” Newell said this year. “He really teaches the fundamental elements to coaches, both in this country and around the world.”
Knight, 66, has 874 career wins and trails just former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp (876) and former North Carolina coach Dean Smith (879) on the all-time victories list. The coach is now in his sixth season with the Red Raiders after stints at Indiana and Army and is one of three coaches in history (Newell is another) to have coached teams to titles in the NCAA Tournament, NIT and Olympic Games.
He has also earned notoriety for his volatile nature throughout his career, including an incident this season in which he made contact with Michael Prince’s face during a timeout to get the attention of the sophomore forward.
The Red Raiders’ Bay Area appearance will also mark the homecoming of freshman forward Decensae White, a former Serra High School standout, and sophomore guard Rogdrick Craig, who is from Portola Valley and went to San Jose City College last season.
For Nevada, much of the attention will be on Fazekas, the reigning two-time Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year who returned to the Wolf Pack for his senior season after flirting with the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-11 forward, who was named by Street and Smith’s magazine as a first-team preseason All-American, leads the nation with an average of 14.8 rebounds per game and is seventh in scoring at 25 points per game. Also on the Wolf Pack roster is former Oakland Tech star Demarshay Johnson, who is academically ineligible for the first semester.
Cal is off to an impressive start despite the departure of star forward Leon Powe to the NBA. The Bears, who claimed the Great Alaska Shootout championship last weekend with a 78-70 victory over Loyola Marymount, are led by 6-foot-11 center DeVon Hardin.
Stanford has won three straight behind the strong play of 7-foot freshman center Robin Lopez.