Back with some GU-EWU game notes, quotes (Eagles coach Kirk Earlywine’s provided by the S-R’s Steve Bergum) and an update on freshman guard Keegan Hyland. Read on.
—Gonzaga took Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving) off. Some players spent the holiday with their families, others feasted at assistant coaches’ houses.
—Hyland has been a spectator at practice most of the season. He had a knee problem early on and then suffered a concussion during practice roughly four weeks ago.
“I got hit in the back of the head,” Hyland said before Tuesday’s practice, which he and Elias Harris watched from the sidelines for the 40 minutes or so I witnessed. “I’m getting close. I still have a few lingering symptoms and for whatever reason they haven’t left.”
Hyland had one concussion during his sophomore year in high school. He hopes to be back next week. Hyland missed all but three games of his senior season of high school with a stress fracture in his pelvis. He said he’s completely recovered from that injury.
Hyland doesn’t think he’ll redshirt this season. GU has three walk-ons helping out at practice and Hyland’s return at the very least would help in that area.
—Robert Sacre is tied for eighth on GU’s career blocked shots list. He has swatted 80 shots, tying him with Mark Spink. Cory Violette is No. 7 with 85 blocks. Casey Calvary is No. 1 with 207.
—Gonzaga has won 22 straight and 29 of the last 30 over EWU. The Eagles’ last win in the series was on Jan. 8, 1990, at the Martin Centre.
“We know they’re going to come in hungry and try to prove themselves,” GU sophomore wing Manny Arop said. “For us, we’re 3-2. We shouldn’t take anybody lightly.”
The Zags won 94-52 last year, building a 53-25 lead at half.
“They punched us in the mouth on their first possession of the game and we didn’t recover and we didn’t fight back,” EWU coach Kirk Earlywine said. “I will suspect that won’t happen again.”
—EWU is without standout guard Glen Dean (foot) and fellow point guard Cliff Colimon (ankle) and forward Rashano McCrae (concussion) missed the Eagles’ game against Idaho on Saturday. No word on the availability of Colimon and McCrae for tonight’s game.
Without its primary point guards for a good chunk of the season, EWU has 64 assists and 94 turnovers. Gonzaga also has struggled with its assists (73) compared to turnovers (76).
“They are really good and we are going to go in there short-handed,” Earlywine said. “I’m pretty sure the referees aren’t going to let them play more than five guys, and we’ll have five guys healthy. I expect whatever five players are out there in black jerseys will compete their butts off.”
Guard Kevin Winford made a school-record eight 3s in the loss to the Vandals.
“Certainly they have great familiarity with us because we’re on TV so much and they get to see us a lot and read about us a lot,” GU coach Mark Few said. “Quite frankly I’m sure they’re really tired of hearing about it and I would feel same way if I was in their shoes. They’ll come out and give us a great effort.”
Earlywine said GU presents multiple challenges.
“Arop jumped out at me in the minutes I’ve watched,” he said. “I know Sacre is a load in the post and Olynyk is really skilled. Gray is playing like an old, experienced senior — and their go-to guy — should play. When Harris is healthy, he’s a pro.”
Arop has impressed EWU’s coach.
“I know he’s a heckuva offensive rebounder, a good athlete and tough,” Earlywine said. “When we played them last year we didn’t think he was a very good shooter and he jumped up and made 3s against us. I know he can shoot the ball. You add that to Goodson’s speed that immediately jumps out at you, and their size.”