Back with the day-after post following Gonzaga’s 58-47 road win over
(Programming notes: I’m working on an article on the Zags’ five seniors as they await their final home game Tuesday at the
—Senior point guard Jeremy Pargo savored Gonzaga’s 14-0 WCC record, but not for long.
“It’s kind of a big deal for us,” he said, “but it’s over with now. Now we want to focus on winning the conference tournament. We didn’t do that last year.”
First up, however, is Senior Night when South Carolina Upstate visits Tuesday. Not much chance of Pargo overlooking that one, with his mom, sister, grandmother and two nieces coming to
—Coach Mark Few pointed out one lineup that was particularly effective in the second half as GU expanded its lead. The five included Demetri ‘Meech’ Goodson, Steven Gray, Matt Bouldin and Micah Downs. Ira Brown, and Josh Heytvelt also saw time in that stretch.
Goodson entered after Pargo got beat defensively on consecutive plays. .
“That group really got out and climbed up on them and that’s really what turned the game a little bit,” Few said.
—Heytvelt’s points came in bunches. He had three field goals, two of them 3-pointers, in the first 2:45. At one point he was 3 of 3 and his teammates were 0 of 8. GU’s first non-Heytvelt field goal came with 7:52 left on Pargo’s steal and dunk.
A minute later, Heytvelt had a putback dunk, but the basket was disallowed as the senior forward was called for a foul. It was his second foul and he immediately went to the bench.
Heytvelt opened the second half with a free throw and a mid-range jumper from the baseline in the first 75 seconds. Those were his final points in an 11-point effort.
—Backup center Robert Sacre practiced for roughly 20 minutes Friday, his first participation in team drills since re-injuring his surgically repaired foot in December. Sacre’s absence has been felt. He was playing well before the injury as the primary backup to Heytvelt.
“He looked good. He was battling around in there and he really made a difference,” Few said. “He’s what we don’t have. He’s physical and he pursues the ball.”
Minus Sacre, GU has pieced together post minutes from the 6-foot-4 Brown, 7-5 Will Foster, and occasionally 6-11 Austin Daye with varying degrees of success. Against
Brown returned in the second half and was more effective defensively. Pomare, playing in his final home game on Senior Night, scored eight points in the first 10 minutes, but was fairly quiet the rest of the way.
Few said no decision has been made on whether Sacre will see game time. He’s eligible for a medical redshirt, but he loses that opportunity if he plays in a game. GU has one regular-season game before the WCC Tournament.
“It’s still too early,” Few said. “It’ll be a tough call.”
—It’s been a tough year for the Toreros, who won the WCC Tournament and a first-round NCAA game in Bill Grier’s first season. His second season has seen several players break team rules and an unfortunate season ending injury to star guard Brandon Johnson. Earlier this week, starting guard Trumaine Johnson exited the program and he will transfer.
Grier, who was an assistant at Gonzaga for 16 years, said he’s trying to get certain players to be disciplined, make correct decisions and “understand there’s a bigger picture.”
“I was like that (in college), I thought in terms of, ‘What am I having for lunch?’ and not ‘What’s the rest of this year and my future like,’ ” he said. “That’s been the hard thing.”
The Toreros remain a strong defensive team and there’s no questioning their effort level.
“The last two years, they’ve been at their best when their backs are pressed against the wall,” Few said. “That showed coming into this game.”
Added Few: “He’s a great friend, a great coach and he makes great game-time adjustments like he did tonight (with) some things we weren’t ready for. Being up at Gonzaga (as an assistant), he knows the blue print. Now he just has to get the right group of guys that understand he’s a hell of lot smarter than they are.”
“After he got the ball stolen from him (by Pargo in the first half), he got real tentative until about the last 7-8 minutes,” Grier said.
Pargo on running the WCC table: “We wanted to take it a game at a time and win as many of these games as we could. We ended up winning 14 of them.”
Grier on Gonzaga: “Against them, you have to play darn near perfect.”
Bouldin on the offense enduring some sluggish stretches: “They know all our stuff to a ‘T’. It’s obviously hard to run our sets and they do a great job of packing it in. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. Pomare kind of got it going, but defensively, in terms of their 3-point shooters I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Few on finishing with two hard-fought road wins: “Just looking at this when the schedule was sent out, I knew this was going to be a tough place to end it. It was nice that we’d already clinched it, but this was going to be a tough, tough trip, especially with the way
Bouldin on the physical nature of the game: “It was a grinder. My body hurts as much as it’s ever hurt. Very physical. We were taking it in there and sometimes you get the call and sometimes you don’t. It takes a toll.”
Grier on GU’s 16-3 run to end the first half: “We just couldn’t stop the bleeding. We were getting the ball inside to Gyno early and he was doing a good job. Then they cranked up the pressure and I felt like our guards played very tentative.”
Pargo on manufacturing points in a methodical contest: “In a (low-scoring) game like that you have to create opportunities when you can. We had some opportunities in the middle and at the end of the first half and I think we took advantage of those.”