Back with some notes, quotes and impressions from Gonzaga’s first practice.
OK, we’ll leave the impressions to senior center Rob Sacre. More below.
--The energetic Sacre was revved up Friday, even by his standards. He sported a cleanly shaven head and a headband.
“Just got bored,” he said. “Don’t leave me alone in my apartment because I’ll get bored and start doing dumb things like get tattoos and shave my head. That’s what happened.”
Sacre performed the hairectomy by himself, noting that nobody was injured in the process. “This,” he said, pointing to his face, “is the moneymaker right here, not the body.”
Sacre had mixed emotions about the on-set of the season.
“I don’t really want to get it started because I know how fast they go, so I want to just take my time one day at a time,” he said.
Sacre is thrilled to have a chance to play in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C. GU will face Hawaii at the B.C. Classic. Director of operations Jerry Krause does most of the scheduling and he worked on the Vancouver game for many, many months. It’s never easy to find the right date, opponent, etc.
“They surprised me, I didn’t expect that,” Sacre said, breaking into an impression of Krause. “Coach Krause said, ‘I have a surprise for you Rob, you have to be ready for it.’ I didn’t know what that meant. He surprised me with playing back home. That’s a great gift. I’m happy for myself and the team to see Vancouver.”
--I asked senior guard Marquise Carter for a rundown on the five freshmen.
“They’re unbelievable, really good,” he said.
On Gary Bell Jr.: “He can do it all, shoot, pass it, penetrate.”
On Kevin Pangos: “An all-around point guard, he sets us up well and he doesn’t really make a mistake.”
On Kyle Dranginis: “A really good shooter. He came in with confidence, shooting the ball well and he’s not afraid to shoot it.”
On Chris Sarbaugh: “He’s just aggressive, a hard worker who wants to get better in the weight room and on the court.”
On Ryan Spangler: “Can’t leave out the big fella. He pushes the big guys. He’s very aggressive, not scared of anybody. He goes against Rob hard, goes against ‘E’ (Elias Harris) hard. He rebounds the heck out of it.”
Pangos on Bell: “I couldn’t wait to play with him. We’ve been talking a lot about our first year and the future. We’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves, but we both have high expectations. He can flat-out ball.”
--During one five-on-five session, I saw at least three occasions when the ball was fed inside and then kicked back out to guards Pangos and David Stockton. On three occasions they swished 3-pointers as defenders couldn’t recover in time on the perimeter. GU appears to have more options in terms of players who can take advantage of those kick-outs to spot-up shooters, which should happen frequently with GU’s interior threats.
--Head coach Mark Few on GU’s non-conference home schedule (EWU, WSU, Michigan State, Butler, Notre Dame, Air Force, Western Michigan (at Spokane Arena), Oral Roberts: “I would guess there is nobody in the country in the non league that has something that can rival that. When it’s all said and done, I think it’ll be the highest-rated schedule we’ve ever had.”
--Sarbaugh had knee surgery in late July and wasn’t on the court for several months. He said he’s progressing well and seemed to move around pretty well at practice. My guess is he’ll redshirt, but several weeks of practice will determine that.
Guy Landry Edi’s MCL injury didn’t require surgery and he was able to participate Friday with his knee wrapped. Few said they purposely “slow played it” to assist his recovery. Landry Edi will probably have to work his way back into top condition. The 6-foot-6 Landry Edi was known for his defending and rebounding at the J.C. level, but coaches like his scoring potential. He could emerge as an important player at the ‘3’ and he gives the Zags another option when they want to go with a sizable front line.
By the way, his first name is apparently pronounced ‘Gee’ not ‘Guy’. Name pronunciation changes have become the norm the last few years, really since Rav-ee-o/Rie-vee-o, Kie-tuh/Kay-tuh, Merninghoff/Mawninghoff, Sac-ray/Sac-ree, etc.
“It’s Gee,” Few said. “The other day, I asked him what his mother calls him because he’ll just tell you Guy or Gee.”
--From a distance Sarbaugh, with his mop top, looks like ex-Zag Matt Bouldin. From a distance or close up, Pangos and David Stockton look like brothers. The two are built roughly the same with similar facial features. Pangos is a couple inches taller and about 25 pounds heavier, but they could pass as twins. More than one media member did a double-take and checked uniform numbers to make sure who was who.
--Half-circles have been painted on the courts at the MAC, a new touch this season that re-emphasizes the rule with the intention of limiting under-the-hoop collisions. The NBA has had the half-circle under the basket for years.
“I’m all right with it,” Few said. “I’m an anti-flop guy so anything that can do away with flopping and faking charges is better for the game.”