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Day after EWU

Lots of ground to cover, so read on for the day-after EWU post.

First, the links: S-R gamer and photos, A.P. recap, and a freelance article in the Tacoma News Tribune. Onward.

--Sophomore forward Elias Harris has been prone to slow starts, but that wasn’t the case Monday. He had 13 points in the first half and nine more in the second. He finished with seven rebounds and three steals.

“I was really proud of Elias,” head coach Mark Few said. “We challenged him. I don’t know how many offensive rebounds he had (four), but he went really hard to the boards. He was dialed in and played well from the tip.”

I planned on interviewing Harris, but he departed the locker room while Few was wrapping up his post-game comments.

--Manny Arop had a season high for points (10) and assists (6). Along the way, he made 3 of 4 3s and snagged seven rebounds. Five of his rebounds came at the offensive end.

“He has a knack for (rebounding),” Few said. “He had that in those junior world games when he played for Canada. He just has a nose for the ball. We definitely need that on this team because some of our guys don’t have a nose for the ball.”

Arop played 18 minutes. Harris played 27 minutes, but nobody else was above 22.

“I’m happy with the assists,” Arop said. “It’s important because the last game we struggled scoring, we had only 41 points, and we’re a much better scoring team than that. It’s those guys that hit the shots, I just tried to give them the ball when they were open.”

--Sophomore guard Demetri Goodson was open most of the night. In a strategy teams employed often against Jeremy Pargo last year, defenders are backing off Goodson, daring him to take the outside shot. Goodson has struggled from the perimeter (1 of 12 on 3s after going 0 of 3 vs. EWU). On one occasion, Goodson caught the ball on the wing outside the 3-point line and his defender literally had one foot in the paint, providing help-defense on a post player. On another play, Goodson caught the ball outside the arc and was able to drive in and connect on a 14-footer before the defender closed in.

Goodson didn’t make his 3-point attempts, but he remained aggressive.

“If I’m open and I feel good, I’m going to take the shot because I’m a pretty good shooter,” he said. “The coaches want me to take shots. If not, I’m going to look to catch, penetrate and get Matt (Bouldin) and Steven (Gray) open looks and try not to be selfish with the ball.”

Said Few: “They tried to play off Meech and not guard him and I thought he gave us some good minutes. He kept the ball moving and attacked when he needed to. We ended up having one of our better offensive performances because of that.”

--The outcome was never in doubt. Gonzaga racked up 53 points, its biggest single half of the season other than the 56-point second half against Davidson, to take a 28-point lead at the break. Eventually, 11 players scored and 14 saw court time. The victory was GU’s most lopsided this season. The next closest: 79-40 over Augustana.

It was also GU’s biggest win over EWU since a 99-54 outcome in 1993. That’s a credit to widespread contributions from Gonzaga’s bench, led by Arop.

“I thought it was a great chance for some of our young guys that don’t log a lot of minutes to get in and show what they can do,” Bouldin said. “And it didn’t drop off at all. Usually in games like that you tend to slack off toward the end or it gets sloppy. I didn’t see that at all tonight.”

Bol Kong (four points, seven rebounds), Grant Gibbs (six points, six rebounds) and Kelly Olynyk (10 points, three rebounds) were solid.

“This group of freshmen is different than normal freshmen,” Goodson said. “Last year I was the only freshman that got playing time and I played a role behind Jeremy. Bol’s role is to come in and shoot. Manny’s role is to come in and rebound and look to score. We have a nice group of freshmen.”

--Stats of note: Arop was just 1 of 3 on 3-pointers before making three straight Monday and finishing 3 of 4. Harris nailed his only 3-pointer. He’s 5 of 14 on the season. Coupled with his ability to drive, Harris can be a handful to defend. Olynyk missed both of his 3-point attempts and dropped to 0 of 9 on the season. Olynyk was a capable 3-point shooter in high school but has yet to find his stroke as a freshman at GU.

Gonzaga’s 19 assists was a season high (previous high 16 in season opener against Mississippi Valley State). Monday was just the fourth game Gonzaga has had more assists than turnovers (Michigan State 12-11, Wisconsin 10-8, Wake Forest 13-10, EWU 19-16).

As I mentioned in the game story, Gonzaga scored 24 points on EWU’s 16 first-half turnovers. GU finished at 24 as the Eagles only had two turnovers in the second half. GU’s 14 steals equaled its season high of 14 vs. Augustana.

The Bulldogs made 15 of 29 free throws, dropping them to 66.4 percent on the season. (However, their free-throw ‘defense’ is outstanding -- opponents are making only 62.8 percent!) GU has attempted 128 more free throws than opponents.

QUOTEBOOK

Few on putting Duke in the rear-view mirror: “To get back and compete again and just play … I think was very important.”

Few on Bouldin returning to form: “He’s got enough practices under him. It was tough to sit that amount of time and then get thrown into such a high-level game in New York. Now he’s got his legs back under him. I thought he played well.”

Arop on how he spent the holiday break: “I went back home (to Canada) and spent some time with my family, my little nephew and niece. I ran around when I could so I could stay in shape. I just enjoyed it. Now, it’s back to basketball.”

Bouldin on his holiday break: “Went home (to Colorado), caught a Nuggets game.”




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