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Day after Portland

Gonzaga took care of business last night, drubbing cold-shooting Portland (that seems strange to write) 90-51 at the MAC. The Pilots, who have had multiple perimeter threats and solid interior play the last 4-5 years under coach Eric Reveno, have struggled this season with a young roster. Knowing Reveno's track record, the team will develop throughout the season and be a formidable outfit in the future as the roster matures.

Back to the Zags, who have interest in another Canadian, former Pitt Panther Khem Birch, a 6-9 forward who is friends with GU point guard Kevin Pangos. More on GU's rout of Portland below, but here are the links: S-R game story, Chris Anderson's photos, John Blanchette's column and Oregonian gamer.

Read on..


—We’ll begin with Robert Sacre, who looked more comfortable last night in his second game dealing with a dislocated right thumb suffered Dec. 21. He played with tape instead of a brace and produced 13 points and five rebounds. He played just 18 minutes as all 12 players saw action in the runaway.

“No question it was better for catching and feeling the ball release from my hands,” Sacre said. “It was a lot better and the thumb is getting better as well.”

Two Pilots forwards fouled out dealing with GU’s front line of Sacre, Elias Harris, Sam Dower and Ryan Spangler. Sacre was 7 of 7 at the free-throw line.

—As mentioned, every Zag played considerable minutes. Mathis Keita, who had four straight DNPs and six overall, logged 10 minutes. Mathis Mönninghoff checked in and immediately drilled a 3 from the corner, his specialty. Guy Landry Edi’s minutes climbed to 19 and he was busy, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and three turnovers. He had a pair of high-flying dunks on inbounds plays.

“We’ve had so many close games, grinder games, that it’s hard to go any deeper than 10,” coach Mark Few said. “Those kids have been going hard in practice and there’s not much separation. It’s good to finally get some guys in there who deserve some time.”

—Gonzaga’s ball movement was perhaps the best it’s been all season. The Zags had 11 assists on 15 first-half baskets and finished with 17 on 29 field goals. Gary Bell Jr. and Marquise Carter each had four assists and David Stockton had three.

On one play against Portland’s trapping zone, Bell Jr. fed Carter, who dished to Pangos at the top of the key. He passed to Harris underneath, who turned down a pretty good look to feed Sacre for a layup.

“They’re moving the ball better,” Few said, “and it’s effective ball movement.”

—I was a bit surprised that Bell Jr. drew the defensive assignment on 6-5 Nemanja Mitrovic, a 3-point threat from the wing, instead of the 6-6 Mike Hart. Pilots coach Eric Reveno wasn’t, and GU’s Few explained the choice.

“We’re trying to make sure Gary develops into that kind of guy that can shut down people like that,” Few said. “Gary does a nice job getting through screens and Mike is really more effective off the ball.”

Which is how it worked out on one early first-half possession. Mitrovic, who struggles to create his own shot, got away from Bell Jr. and was open on the wing. Hart closed in quickly to contest the shot and Mitrovic misfired.

Mitrovic made one 3 in each half. The second came against Kevin Pangos.

“(Assistant) Coach (Joel) Sobotka thought they’d do that because ‘Nem’ is dangerous,” Reveno said. “He was in the top 10 nationally in 3-point shooting last year and people know, if they’re looking at us, how can you beat us? He’s still part of that formula. We’ve just had trouble finding offensive continuity where we’re a balanced team and can move it around.”

Aside from Edi’s dunks, Bell had an individual highlight-reel play, snagging a rebound, navigating a couple of defenders and going coast-to-coast for a layup.

STATS OF NOTE

—Pangos torched the Pilots for five 3-pointers and 19 points in just 21 minutes. I think four of those 3s didn’t touch the rim on the way down. Since going 0 of 5 vs. Arizona, Pangos has made 14 of 26 from long distance.

—Hart was the only Bulldog not to score.

—Pangos, Harris and Bell Jr. drew charging fouls.

—GU’s free-throw shooting went south in the second half. The Zags were 10 of 19 in the final 20 minutes and 23 of 36 overall (64 percent).

—Gonzaga’s bench scored 47 points (Portland had 50 for the game).

—GU had a 27-2 edge in points off turnovers. The Zags committed 10 turnovers and had just 38 over the last four games.

—The Bulldogs’ 54.7 percent shooting was a season-high. Their nine 3-pointers tied for second highest total this season.

—Tough shooting night for Harris, who was 2 of 6 on FGs and 1 of 5 on FTs. One of his baskets came when he split a double team and fired a line-drive bank shot from 6 feet that somehow went down. He had five first-half rebounds and finished with six.

QUOTEBOOK

Few on Carter: “He had some bounce in his step. He’s been close in these other games, he’s been flying around on defense, the plays just haven’t been happening for him on offense. He used his feel and what he has. He can make passes in tight corners, he can split ball screens and do some things in the paint and he’s doing a nice job moving the ball instead of trying to make a play every time he’s catching it.”

Reveno on a lengthy post-game locker room chat: “I got in late and they were talking to each other, which is good. A young team, you like to see them communicate with each other. I told them just what I said to (the media), a lot of teams will lose up here. We can still have a very good WCC season with a loss at Gonzaga. We’ve had a few of those in the past.”


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