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Media day roundup

Back with a roundup from Monday’s media day. No notebook for Tuesday’s S-R because John Blanchette is writing a column, but I put some web-only notes/quotes below. (Programming note: I’m planning a Will Foster feature for Thursday’s Four Corners page.)

Read on.


—Head coach Mark Few was a bit testy with a particular line of questioning.

Asked if the loss to USF was a needed wake-up call, Few said, “No, not at all. I don’t think they need a wake-up call. First of all, they’re not the juggernaut that again everybody wants to paint them out to be. I think I’ve been consistent with that statement and that fact. We’re pretty even with most teams in this league and if we don’t play with a ton of energy and ton of toughness then, as you can see, most of our games have come down to last couple minutes. We’ve been really poised and really good at winning games at the end, but we just made a couple errors at the end of the game that allowed San Francisco to tie it up.”

Few said the players have worked hard in practice and have been resilient.

“They’re young, though,” he added. “You go through phases in seasons where sometimes you’re playing really good and sometimes you’re not playing so good. Just look across the landscape of college basketball. Unless I’m missing something I don’t think anybody has played great in every game. Some of the teams are built better to survive those than the rest of us.”

Few was asked about Portland, which visits Thursday. “We better play really good. They’re playing better than we are. They’ve been on the road and handled guys fairly easily. They’re a veteran crew, a very physical crew, worked us over inside last time, but we were playing really good basketball at that time and we were able to keep them at arm’s length that whole game.”

That led to a question about what has been the difference the last couple games, compared to how the team was playing in the first go-around with Portland. Said Few: “I think people expect us to blow everybody out. I guess sometimes you guys are like my team, you’re not hearing what I’m saying. We’re not just so overly talented that we’re just going to blow people out. Pretty much all of our games, maybe with the exception of Eastern Washington, have been tough, hard-nosed games and pretty evenly matched. So those are going to come down to the last couple plays and we’ve been incredibly poised and done a nice job to win those games. I expect the rest of the league games to go like that. That’s just the way it is.

“You go through phases. You go through phases with your golf game, with pretty much everything. We were making a lot of shots then, getting great contributions from everybody off the bench. Now we’re hit or miss there. It’s just another week in league play. Maybe next week we’ll be writing songs about everybody, who knows? That’s why I’m not big on big, sweeping generalizations.”

—Thursday’s game against Portland is part of Gonzaga’s continuing Coaches vs. Cancer efforts. GU’s coaching staff will wear tennis shoes and white polo shirts Thursday that read ‘BELiEVE’; Portland’s staff will wear purple polos with the same ‘BELiEVE’ inscription.

Sarah Michaelson, wife of Gonzaga administrative assistant Brian Michaelson, came up with the BELiEVE concept and she’s worked with Coaches-vs.-Cancer organizers with the goal to have as many people as possible wear BELiEVE T-shirts at Thursday’s game. Sarah’s parents are both fighting cancer. T-shirts cost $10 and can be purchased at Kimmel, U District Physical Therapy and Institute of Sports Performance and on-line at www.cvctee.com. They’ll also be available at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday.

Mayor Mary Verner was expected to present Marcy Few, who teams with husband Mark to put on the annual Coaches-vs.-Cancer event each summer, with a proclamation at the City Council meeting Monday night declaring Feb. 4 as “Coaches vs. Cancer Day” in Spokane.

—A play from Saturday’s game that surely had some scrambling to see a replay was when 7-foot-5 center Will Foster took off on a drive from the top of the circle. Foster got within perhaps 6 feet of the hoop, drawing a foul from Dior Lowhorn. Foster missed both free throws.

“I went to hand it off to Steve (Gray) and his guy was pressuring him out a little bit,” Foster said. “The USF guys were showing, so I figured I’d slip it and try something new. It worked, until I got to the basket.”

Foster said assistant coach Leon Rice has encouraged him to be more aggressive getting to the rim.

Asked who was more surprised, his teammates or USF, Foster said: “I think my teammates were a little more surprised because they didn’t think I’d pull that out in a game. And they pretty much know my limitations and that’s not in my jurisdiction.”

—Following Saturday’s game, Matt Bouldin sat on a stool in front of his locker and looked completely spent. For good reason, he’d played 41 minutes after logging 40 against Santa Clara two nights earlier. The Broncos bumped and crowded Bouldin on seemingly every play. Throw in the fact that Bouldin wasn’t feeling well Saturday and it made for a long couple of days.

“Just a rough day in general,” he said. “When you give it your all on the floor and want to win so badly … it was a combination of being mad and being disappointed.”

Bouldin is still dealing with lingering discomfort in his right (shooting) hand, stemming from a tumble against San Diego a couple weeks ago.

“I don’t think it’s getting much better, but it’s definitely tolerable,” he said. “I’m fine.”

QUOTES

Kelly Olynyk: “I think we have to get back to the way we were before, that Oklahoma-Illinois stretch where we were playing defense really hard, going down on offense and running, transition. Just get back to playing Gonzaga basketball.”

Few: “We need to defend better, take better care of the basketball for stretches of the game. We never had a great flow offensively for the second half. Those are things we can definitely work on.”

Bouldin on Portland: “They really scored well inside, they penetrate well and shoot the 3-ball really well. A team that shoots like that always has a chance to stay in games. I’m sure they’re going to be as hungry as they’ve ever been. After our loss to USF, they may think we’re a little vulnerable.”

Few on whether GU struggled with its interior defense against USF: “I don’t know if it’s been all that good (during the season). That’s one of the areas at halfway point we need to get better at. We’re just kind of allowing some inside guys to work us over and obviously that’s a strength of Portland.”

 


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