Day after Southern

Elias Harris of the Zags throws one down in the first half. (Associated Press)
Elias Harris of the Zags throws one down in the first half. (Associated Press)

Saw the first snowflake of the season this morning. Now, it's a light drizzle out there as I head out to Whitworth to cover a football game.

You can find my day after Southern post below. In case you missed it, here's my game story.

--We’ll start with Elias Harris (pictured above), the talented sophomore forward who had 12 points, all in the first half. He returned to practice earlier in the week after missing time with a slightly separated shoulder. As you read in my game story, Harris said his shoulder is “absolutely fine.” His play seemed to indicate as much.


Still, he is wearing padding (similar to that found in compression shorts) to protect both shoulders, ribs and sides. I could see the padding under his uniform when I watched the TV replay last night.


“Extra protection,” he said.


Harris didn’t wait long to show his 2009-10 form, taking a pass from Steven Gray in transition, spinning and dunking 55 seconds into the game.


“Inside, outside, he adds so much athleticism,” Gray said of Harris.


As expected, Harris started alongside 7-footers Kelly Olynyk and Rob Sacre. That’s a sizable front line, and against Southern that meant some awkward defensive assignments, which could be a recurring theme this season. Of course, that works both ways as opponents must match up with GU’s sizable frontcourt, too.


Olynyk guarded 6-6 Julius Ingram and Harris was on 6-3 Brandon White, who hit a contested 3 over Harris early on. Harris, whose defense improved as the game progressed, and Olynyk spent a great deal of time guarding near the 3-point line. Southern ran a number of plays where there was never a player in the key.


--Mathis Monninghoff drained all four of his 3-pointers, three in the first half when the Bulldogs lit up Southern’s 2-3 zone and stretched their lead to 26 points.


“My job is to shoot open shots,” he said. “That’s my role on the team.”


As we’ve mentioned before, GU figures to operate inside out, meaning there should be some perimeter shots available when opposing defenses focus on the bigs. Many of those figure to be taken by Gray, Marquise Carter, Manny Arop and Monninghoff.


“That’s kind of why we brought (Monninghoff) over here,” coach Mark Few said. “He’s been a little bit of a reluctant shooter in some of the scrimmages and things like that. We’ve been on him to be aggressive and that’s what he’s supposed to bring. It was nice to see to be quite honest. He’s capable of doing that and when he’s aggressive like that I think we are a better team.”


Harris has pushed Monninghoff to be more aggressive.


“In our exhibition game and even during practice, I wouldn’t say he was scared, but he was kind of tentative and not really going for it,” Harris said. “I talked to him, coach talked to him – just to be more outgoing and do your thing. He did a phenomenal job. He shot the ball well and it was all confidence.”


--Freshman guard Keegan Hyland sat out after suffering a concussion in practice this week. He could be a candidate to redshirt, but remember GU has just 11 scholarship players and outside shooting, believed to be one of Hyland’s strengths, is something this team will need.


--Info was hard to come by regarding Southern’s program, but yes, Madut Bol is the son of the late Manute Bol, the 7-foot-7 center (tallest in NBA history) who gave generously of his time and money to help his native Sudan. Manute Bol died in June.


Madut, 6-9 and 215 pounds, played 19 minutes and scored a team-high 12 points. He made his lone 3-point attempt.


(Couldn’t find a Southern media guide and the most recent article on the Jags’ official Website was from a February game last season.)


--Chatted briefly with Southern A.D. Greg LaFleur, Rob Sacre’s father who watched from a court-side seat. LaFleur said he should be able to see every GU game “east of the Mississippi” this season.


--GU is back on the floor Sunday at 1 p.m. against IUPUI, which finished 25-11 last season and returns two double-figures scorers in 6-5 Leroy Nobles (13.2 ppg) and 6-6 Alex Young (18.3 ppg).


“They won 25 games last year, they could be an NCAA tournament team so we have to get ready for them,” Harris said.




Gray on GU’s transition game: “Our bigs were running the floor. It finally broke them. Eventually if we keep running, that’s when it breaks teams.”


Harris on Gray: “Outstanding.”


Few on opener: “Good start to the season. I thought we shot the ball extremely well. Obviously we rebounded the ball great and we were able to get a lot of guys in, get some good experience especially with the younger guys. A lot to improve on but a good first game.”


Dower on the game: “We played good team ball, we had a lot of assists, really crashed the boards. That’s what we have to be, the junkyard dogs, that’s what coach Few says. Plus 41 (rebounding), that was the highlight of our night.”


Few on scoring 117:  “I haven’t seen one like that before, but we’re big and we hope that will be one of our strengths. This is only one game. But hopefully we can continue to take pride in that and come out every night and make that something we can hang our hat on.”


Southern coach Rob Spivery: “I saw lot of good things from my team. I thought they gave great effort, played hard, it was just that we were outmatched.”


Few on an 18-0 run that broke the game open late in the first half: “We made some shots. We’re finally were able to string some stops together. They were shooting the ball pretty darn well themselves early. I thought for the most part we were contesting those shots. I thought it was just a matter of time if we just keep making them hit shots over hands that we would eventually get going and we did. Obviously we started making two or three 3s in a row and that helps, too.”


Stats of note


--Six in double figures, solid FT% (78.8, 26 of 33), 26 assists, 9 steals.


--Monninghoff 4 of 4 on 3s, Gray 5 of 8. Team 13 of 22 (59.1%)


--Olynyk rough start, but played much better in second half, finished with four TOs. Same thing with Arop; he missed first 4-5 shots, but finished up with 9 points and 8 boards.


--Stockton, who had five TOs in exhibition game, had seven points, three assists and zero TOs.


--Arop was the first sub, followed by Carter, then Dower.


--Gray scored 25 points in 28 minutes. His career high is 27 points.



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Jim Meehan





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