Good Sunday morning. Back with my day-after post following Gonzaga's easy win over San Diego last night.
Press row was pretty well packed Thursday vs. Saint Mary's. There were multiple seats open Saturday for the Toreros, who probably won't win a WCC game if they continue to play the way they did at the new Kennel.
--All together now: Sam Dower.
Take a look at the redshirt freshman’s numbers in his breakout weekend. Combined totals: 17 of 19 FG, 7 of 9 FTs, 3 offensive rebounds, 9 defensive rebounds, two steals, one block, just one turnover. Total of 42 points in 39 minutes.
“He’s just been great,” head coach Mark Few said. “I just told him in there, he’s hung with it, hung with it and he’s grown during this time, during practice, to where everybody has a lot of confidence in him. And the whole team is energized with how he’s playing because he’s such a great guy and done a really good job of sticking with it.”
Dower’s teammates weren’t surprised. They know about Dower’s offensive abilities. Remember, he opened the season with 19 points in 17 minutes against Southern and had 11 in 10 minutes against IUPUI. Along the way, though, he’s had defensive and rebounding issues, which, along with Rob Sacre’s stellar play most of the season, kept Dower’s minutes limited.
For example, Dower played two minutes against Xavier, five vs.
“That was kind of the things we were on him about,” Few said. “Moving to the ball, not accepting blockouts and being more assertive defensively. He was always too reactive. He’s done a much better job there.”
Obviously nobody likes to sit on the bench, particularly former high school/AAU stars accustomed to playing nearly every second, but Dower kept his head up during some trying times.
“He’s my roommate on the road,” Sacre said. “I just tried to talk to him and tell him to be positive and his time would come, and when it did, do what you can do. We were all high school stars. I know it’s not easy when you’re not getting the minutes you think you expect. It’s one of those things where hard work equals great benefits.”
Said Dower: “I was just waiting for my turn. I’m playing behind a good player in Rob. I was basically waiting to get my chance and it came today. Hard work pays off I guess.”
Dower and Sacre played together at times in the Saint Mary’s and
“It was fine (playing together), we’re good on and off the court,” Sacre said. “We can communicate and handle things.”
--Another player whose time appears to be coming is
Few doesn’t put much stock (no pun intended) in who starts games, but it’ll be interesting to see if Stockton gets the nod Thursday at Portland.
--After sitting out Thursday’s game (coach’s decision), Manny Arop and Mathis Keita saw time against the Toreros. Arop had shifts in both halves. He finished with three points and three boards in 13 minutes. Keita entered late in the second half and scored three points and had two rebounds in six minutes.
(Programming note: John Blanchette is planning a column on the rotation/bench this week.)
--Around the country, coaches wore sneakers in support of Coaches vs. Cancer. At GU, both Few and ex-Zag assistant Billy Grier wore sneakers and “Believe” polos, a project that was led by Gonzaga administrative assistant Brian Michaelson and his wife, Sarah. Last year, 5,000 Believe t-shirts were sold. Michaelson said 4,000 had been sold prior to Saturday’s game and that he was optimistic they’d surpass 5,000 because t-shirts also were being sold at the
A check for the $736,500 generated from Mark and Marcy Few’s Coaches vs. Cancer event last August was presented during a pre-game ceremony. That raised the total amount from the event’s nine years to more than $4.7 million in the fight against cancer.
“It’s just awesome how
STATS OF NOTE
--GU had 14 steals, tying its season high. Goodson and Carter each had three.
--The Zags made 16 of 27 shots in the first half, 16 of 27 shots in the second half (59.3 percent).
--Gonzaga finished with 18 assists (four each by Stockton, Carter and Gray).
--The Toreros finished with eight assists and 20 turnovers.
--Ten Zags scored and 12 played.
--Other than Steven Gray’s 4 of 6, the Bulldogs were 2 of 11 from the 3-point line.
--Gonzaga is shooting 50.1 percent in WCC games. The Zags have made 39.1 percent of their 3s for the season, opponents 36.8 percent.
Few on the defense vs.
Elias Harris on Dower: “When I see Sam do that in practice, I always wondered when he’d come out with that in a game and today he did. It was awesome to see how well he competes out there.”
Dower on the WCC race (GU is tied for fourth, two games behind Saint Mary’s): “We try not to worry about all the media and stuff. It’s us 14 guys. We stick together, we know what we’re capable of. We’re trying to accomplish a goal, which is to win the WCC championship and go to the NCAAs.”
Harris on getting a win after a three-game losing streak: “Even though we lost a couple of games, we didn’t lose our confidence. It’s always nice to win, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve always had confidence.”
Few on Dower’s emergence: “It doesn’t happen if you feel sorry for yourself. Think back to those November games when he was barely getting in and, again, he kept growing during that phase. He got better. We’d try him and he’d have a couple of defensive breakdowns at critical junctures of the game. Now that’s not happening. He’s always been pretty productive scoring wise, but he’s at an all-time high confidence wise.”
Sacre on Dower’s variety of offensive moves: “He’s like Zach Randolph. He just gets the job done.”
Dower: “I’m happy with how I rebounded and defended. I’m trying not to get scored on and get more rebounds.”