Good morning. As previously mentioned, GU senior center Robert Sacre was the coverboy for the S-R college basketball section. Here's my article on one of the most interesting characters to come through the program during its rise to national prominence. (Since his mother, Leslie, called him Robert throughout an interview, I'm going to try to write Robert in the S-R all season instead of Rob!).
There's more below, with a list of Sacre's favorites, a look at the schedule and at GU's difference maker (Elias Harris). Sacre's hometown paper in Vancouver also had an article on the 7-foot center and there are previews of Saint Mary's here and here.
We also had a Gonzaga preview with its season opener approaching Friday night vs. Eastern Washington.
UPDATE: Here's a link to the entire college basketball section (tons of info on all the area schools): http://www.spokesman.com/sections/college-basketball-2011-2012/
GONZAGA DIFFERENCE MAKER
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior had a strong freshman season, but his production tailed off last year, in part because of early season shoulder and Achilles’ injuries. In conference games, Harris averaged nearly 4.5 points less in 2011 than 2010. Harris trimmed down by 10 pounds in the offseason and says he feels quicker and more explosive without losing any of his strength.
The Bulldogs need Harris to return to form with the frontcourt expected to carry the scoring burden, particularly early with Gonzaga’s inexperience at the guard position. Harris figures to be a go-to option on critical possessions in tight games. He’s capable of scoring in transition, from the 3-point line (45.1 percent as a freshman) and on the low block. One key will be Harris’ ability to get to the foul line. He attempted 185 free throws two years ago, 123 last season.
It’s another rugged non-conference schedule, but the difference this season is many of the biggest showdowns (Notre Dame, Michigan State, Butler) will be in the McCarthey Athletic Center. “You’re not going to find a better one in college basketball,” coach Mark Few said of the non-conference home slate. Two huge December road challenges loom. Illinois (Dec. 3) has reportedly cut back practices because the intense sessions were resulting in injuries. Xavier (Dec. 31), which is in the top 15 in both major polls, carries the highest preseason ranking on GU’s schedule and features Tu Holloway, one of the nation’s top point guards. Arizona (Dec. 17 in Seattle) is No. 16.
The biggest games in the WCC in recent years have been Gonzaga’s clashes with Saint Mary’s. But the most anticipated conference matchups this season will likely be GU’s contests with WCC newcomer BYU. The Cougars are 166-16 at the 22,700-seat Marriott Center the last 12 years, including winning streaks of 44 and 53 games.
- Brigham Young
- Saint Mary’s
- San Francisco
- Loyola Marymount
- Santa Clara
- San Diego