Arrow-right Camera


Sun., Jan. 30, 2011, 8:03 a.m.

Day after San Diego

Gonzaga's Sam Dower was 6 for 6 in the first half against San Diego and Chris Gabriel (42) on Jan 29, 2011. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga's Sam Dower was 6 for 6 in the first half against San Diego and Chris Gabriel (42) on Jan 29, 2011. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

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.

Not much in the way of links: Here's my game story, which was posted last night, S-R photos by Dan Pelle (before he zipped over to hockey at the Arena), and a recap by A.P.

Read on.

--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. Illinois, seven against Notre Dame, one vs. Oklahoma State, three against Santa Clara.

“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 San Diego games, something that figures to continue if Dower continues to shine. He’s a capable 4-man with his mid-range shooting ability. He made a 3-pointer against Saint Mary’s and his only miss vs. USD was a 3 that was off line early in the second half. Sacre, by the way, continues to improve as a passer when double-teamed down low (assists to Marquise Carter and David Stockton on back-to-back plays in the first half).

“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 Stockton. The redshirt freshman point guard is seeing more and more minutes (22 vs. Saint Mary’s, 27 vs. USD) and he started the second half in place of Demetri Goodson on Saturday.

Stockton has curtailed his turnovers in the second half of the season. Last night he had two, his most since he had three against Xavier on Dec. 22. He had four assists. He now has 18 assists and five turnovers in the last eight games.

Stockton’s 1.74 assist-to-turnover ratio is second highest on the team behind Goodson’s 2.0. Stockton has made 37.5 percent of his 3s and he’s 13 of 14 at the FT line (92.9 percent). The defensive matchups he faces in the WCC seem more favorable than they were during GU’s rugged non-conference schedule.

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 University of Idaho.

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 Spokane has responded,” Few said. “Marcy and all the people that have done so much work, it’s really cool. It’s a credit to the whole city, the whole region and all the people that put their time in.”


--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).

--San Diego had nine offensive rebounds but only one second-chance point.

--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. San Diego: “That’s a hard prep in one day, that Princeton stuff. I thought we guarded it well.”

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.” Randolph is averaging 20.2 points for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Dower: “I’m happy with how I rebounded and defended. I’m trying not to get scored on and get more rebounds.”

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

Follow Jim online:

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.