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Day after MVSU

Back with the day-after post following GU’s 92-74 win over Mississippi Valley State.

Read on.


 —It’s appropriate to start with this: GU honored retired P.A. announcer Harv Clark prior to the game. Clark, who has been battling health issues, was moved by the tribute. Handed the mic, Clark got the crowd fired up with his trademark: “And now, let’s playyyyyyyyy some basketballllll.”

—Thought our sub-head: “Gonzaga veterans look strong, youngsters struggle in victory” wasn’t entirely accurate. The veterans certainly carried the day but freshman forward Elias Harris had an impressive debut.

Harris was a force inside. He carved out space on his post-ups and did most of his damage within 5 feet of the hoop. He did hit a 15-foot bank shot. His first miss was a 3-point attempt from the wing that hit the back iron.

Harris is replacing Austin Daye, who left early for the NBA, at the ‘4’. Their lid-lifters were similar. Harris had 18 points and seven rebounds in his first game. Daye had 20 and 10, respectively, vs. Montana as a freshman.

Harris and Sacre combined for 35 points and 16 rebounds. Sacre’s 17 and 9 were career highs.

“It’s really nice to have people that want to be in there and bang, get touches in the paint, score in the paint, draw fouls,” guard Matt Bouldin said. “It’s only going to help the perimeter because they’re drawing attention and they’re willing to kick it out.”

—Steven Gray had a packed stat line: 16 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal. He took the ball to the hole aggressively a couple times and was usually rewarded.

“I thought he was kind of sleep-walking for a while and all of a sudden it was kind of a Steven outing,” head coach Mark Few said. “He can do a lot of things; we’re counting on him to do a lot of things. He’s gotta fill that stat sheet, all the way across the board. That’s kind of what he is – a complete guard.”

It was an enjoyable week for Gray, who finished a three-night run on the stage at Magnuson Theatre on Friday. He’ll be back on stage sometime, but not during basketball season.

“For now, it’s basketball,” he said, “because we have so much stuff coming up. Once the season is done, I’d like to do something again because it was a blast.”

—Few said the decision to redshirt Sam Dower and David Stockton was “more a reflection of maximizing their careers here. They certainly could both play right now. I’d be more than comfortable playing both and they’d help us.”

Few reiterated that both are on essentially on-call if necessary.

—Bol Kong didn’t suit up because he hasn’t cracked the top 12. The oft-injured forward is still finding his way in GU’s system.

“As soon as he does that (cracks top 12), then he can suit up and travel and all that. There’ll be some opportunities if he keeps plugging away,” Few said. “There will definitely be some opportunities; some of the wings didn’t play particularly well tonight.”

—Will Foster, the seldom-used 7-5 center, had several productive minutes in each half. He had two points, two blocks, two rebounds in eight minutes. He blocked a shot quickly after checking in and retrieved the ball. He also picked up a loose ball and nearly made a reverse layup that Harris followed with a putback.

—The starters, as expected: Harris, Sacre, Bouldin, Goodson and Gray. First sub: Kelly Olynyk, then Manny Arop, then Grant Gibbs, followed by G.J. Vilarino and Foster. Andy Poling played roughly the last minute of each half. Eight players scored in the first half; 10 overall.

—Ex-Zag Abdullahi Kuso was at the game and spent time in the locker room afterward visiting some of his former teammates. He has a short break during his professional career, but smiled broadly when he said he’s headed for France next.

—GU pressed full-court (sometimes man, sometimes trapping) much of the game and the Bulldogs got out and ran at every opportunity. They had 16 points off nine MVSU turnovers in the first half. Few said GU’s running game, triggered by Goodson and Vilarino, is a point of emphasis.

—The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here. Wait, that’s Steve Martin’s line from The Jerk. The new media guide is here. No surprise that Matt Bouldin is on the cover, surrounding by 11 NCAA Tournament rings (1999-2009). The back cover has pictures of Goodson, Gray and Sacre.

QUOTEBOOK

Gray on becoming comfortable with new teammates: “We were pretty comfortable with each other. We were ready to come out and start beating up on people other than ourselves. It was a lot of fun to come out and get season started and get the games underway. I think a lot of things we did, we were playing off pure adrenaline and emotion. We played with a lot of energy. That’s something that will cover up a lot of mistakes. Now we have to concentrate more on our assignments and the game plan coaches draw up.”

Few: “There was some good and bad. I thought there were some stretches of pretty good effort and pretty good execution at times, then there’d be a silly turnover that would lead to a run-out and they’d climb back into it. I thought Mississippi Valley State played their tails off and made shots when we broke down on defense.”

MVSU was 11 of 26 on 3-pointers.

Bouldin on facing Michigan State on Tuesday: “I’ve played in some really tough places and this is right up there. They’re obviously an awesome team with a lot of experience. We need to go in there the same way we go every where.”

 


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