Good morning. I hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year's celebration. The Zags' celebration of their 73-52 win over Oklahoma State probably didn't last too long. They were on a bus this morning at 6:50 for their charter flight across the country and a date with Wake Forest on Sunday morning.
One note before I get to the day-after post. Freshman guard Keegan Hyland has left the program, coach Mark Few confirmed. Hyland has requested his release to at least a couple of schools, and I'm guessing those are located back East. Hyland is from Portland, Maine.
Hyland has rarely practiced in the first three months of the season. He had a knee problem early in fall camp and was later sidelined by a concussion. He didn't appear in a game. It was probably going to be a difficult task for a healthy Hyland to crack into the rotation with GU's options at guard/wing (Gray, Goodson, Carter, Stockton, Arop, Hart, Keita, Monninghoff, etc.) and with a guard-heavy 2011 class.
Onward. The links: My game story, John Blanchette's column (I couldn't find S-R photo gallery, other than this shot of Sacre and Arop blocking a shot), and game recaps in the Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World..
Read on for my day-after post.
—We’ll begin with the curious case of Mathis Mönninghoff’s ankle. He had a noticeable limp and sat out Friday’s win. I visited with him briefly and he couldn’t pinpoint how or when he injured the hinge. Some potential guesses were that he might have torn scar tissue or has an infection, but the freshman forward wasn’t certain of the cause.
He said it was feeling better Friday.
“Last night was horrible,” he said, referring to Thursday night.
He said he hopes to be able to play Sunday against
—Gray, much like Wednesday night, appeared tentative early on. Before he made a layup in the closing minute, he had gone roughly 34 minutes (spanning two games) without scoring a point. The bucket seemed to propel him in the second half, as he opened with two quick field goals, one on a drive (which he’d rarely done over the previous 34 minutes) and one with a 3.
“It’s just been really hard getting him back fully trusting his body,” head coach Mark Few said. “I knew when he started driving again he was back.”
Gray absorbed some jostling from OSU players, nothing out of the ordinary, and a couple of bumps from teammates Sacre and Manny Arop pursuing loose balls. He also drew a charging foul and was called for a charging foul.
It’ll be interesting to see how Gray, who left the Baylor game on Dec. 18th with back spasms, and his teammates respond with a swift turnaround before Sunday’s game at
Gray logged 37 minutes. He played every second of the second half until 1:21 remained. In that regard, Gray wasn’t alone. Demetri Goodson, who rebounded from a so-so first half, and Arop did the same. In fact, GU’s only substitutions in the second half, other than a line change with 1:21 left, were Kelly Olynyk for Sacre at 13:02, Sacre for Harris at 9:17 and Harris for Olynyk at 5:03.
Gray (37), Harris (32), Sacre (33), Arop (34) and Goodson (29, 19 in second half) played extensive minutes.
—I caught the last part of
“Stocks gave us a big lift in the first half,” Few said. “He came in and made some big plays.”
As he did in the first half of the Xavier game,
—You could tell it might be a good night offensively for Gonzaga when Harris made a tough, contested shot in traffic in which he barely left his feet in the first half. Other signs: Goodson canning a 3-pointer with time dwindling on the shot clock, just his second 3 of the season, and Olynyk burying a 3 when the Cowboys backed off defensively.
“Every time they hit a shot, we came down and hit a big shot,” said Arop, who made a 3 with 2:51 left in the first half to put GU up 35-24. “Kelly hit a big 3, Steven hit a big 3 and obviously Rob and ‘E’ were monsters in the paint.”
—Arop was relentless on the glass, hauling in 10 boards, three offensive. He hustled down one ball that was heading out of bounds and fired a 30-foot pass to Harris. The second chance resulted in a Harris field goal.
“That’s a main part of my game, that’s one of my main things,” Arop said. “This was definitely a night we needed everyone to be physical and attack the glass because they’re a strong team and a pretty good rebounding team.”
Arop was closing in on a double-double, but missed his only two second-half shot attempts and also was 0 of 2 at the foul line.
“Manny played the way we all hope Manny plays,” Few said. “He lifts us up when he brings energy and he’s dialed in.”
—Gonzaga’s defense, a sore spot earlier in the season, has been solid over the last five games.
OSU’s 52 points was its second lowest output of the season (51 in a loss to Virginia Tech). The only game OSU hadn’t made at least 42 percent of its shots was Virginia Tech (28.8)
Marshall Moses was a handful inside and finished with 17 points, but he was about the extent of OSU’s reliable options.
“He’s a really tough guy to handle, but I thought we did a great job on (guard Keiton) Page, he’s one of their guys,” Few said. “I don’t think he had a 3 tonight.”
STATS OF NOTE
—OSU made just 5 of 14 free throws. The Cowboys entered the game at nearly 72 percent.
—GU outboarded OSU 44-32. OSU was plus-7 entering the game.
—Gonzaga had 10 turnovers (9 vs. Notre Dame is GU’s season low). Of those 10, Sacre had five. The only turnover by a primary ball-handler (Goodson, Gray, Keita, Carter, Stockton) was Gray’s (on a charging foul, if I remember correctly).
—At one point early on, Harris was 3 of 5 from the field and the rest of the team was 0 of 9. That changed as GU finished at 45.3 percent. Harris ended 8 of 12.
—Gonzaga had 11 assists on 14 first-half baskets.
—Olynyk put up five points, seven boards and a steal in 12 minutes.
—GU is 82-5 at the MAC.
—Keita made his first start. It was all zeros on the stat sheet other than the ‘6’ in the minutes column.
—GU, behind Harris and Sacre, had a 32-22 edge in points in the paint.
OSU coach Travis Ford: “They were just a tougher team tonight.”
Few on winning his 300th game at Gonzaga in 12 seasons: “I wasn’t even aware of it until they announced it and (Steve) Hertz made a big deal in there (locker room). They’re so hard to come by. Only coaches know how hard they are, every one of them. I can’t believe I’m at 300 already.”
Harris on different players stepping up: “I think we’re figuring out our roles and what to do to help the team to as many wins as possible. As soon as somebody goes out, we just need to step up and play as hard as possible.”
Olynyk: “It’s a great little streak we have going. It was a huge win against a very good team. We played well defensively and we executed on offense. I think we’ve been coming together after having a little lapse earlier in the season. Everyone is holding each other accountable. We’re all doing what we can out there and the pieces are really coming together. People are contributing on different nights.”
Olynyk on the environment: “The crowd was great even without the students. They were in it the whole time.”
Arop on Gray: “He’s getting back into it; he just has to get back in that groove.”
Ford on 10-day stretch between games: “Ten days is way too many to take off. We should have played a game like they did (vs.
Ford on Sacre, Harris: “They get 38 points and 19 rebounds out of their post players. They’re going to win a lot of games when that happens. It’s their inside game that makes them great.”
Few on playing with a big lead: “I wasn’t expecting it against those guys. We built it brick by brick and kept it going and didn’t let them get back into it and make a run.”