It's a bit of a misnomer to say that college basketball teams held their opening practices Friday. NCAA rules now permit summer and pre-Oct.12th individual and team practices, but Friday still was generally recognized as the official lid-lifter to the season.
Gonzaga opened against a backdrop of hype nationally, some of which seems warranted. This is a deep, skilled team with four capable bigs and a strong returning backcourt. However, the players and coaches were cautious about what they've seen in print, heard on talk radio or read on the Internet. That topic opens my notebook that will run In Saturday's S-R that also addresses the hand injury that kept Przemek Karnowski out of most drills and concludes with Ray Giacoletti's ties to Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Come to think of it, I failed to post the S-R article that ran in Friday's S-R. Here's a link.
As mentioned, the Zags went to work minus one rather large individual. It's the first time I've spoken in person to the 7-1, 305-pound Karnowski — though he did recall a few of our email exchanges — and other than interviewing Will Foster and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I can't remember craning my neck quite so much. He comes across as a gentle giant,seems to have a nice grasp of English and, according to his teammates, can flat-out play.
Said senior forward Elias Harris: “He's got a soft touch, can pass extremely well. Sometimes he surprises everybody, even the guards, with his passes. He's going to be a load in the post. You try to front him, but he's so big, so wide and strong, you can't push him out.”
I'll have more on the Zags on Monday.