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Sun., Oct. 21, 2012, 1:34 p.m.

Day after Kraziness

Gary Bell Jr., left and Gerard Coleman battle for control of the ball. (Colin Mulvany)
Gary Bell Jr., left and Gerard Coleman battle for control of the ball. (Colin Mulvany)

Back with a day-after post from Saturday's Kraziness in the Kennel .

Yes, I forgot to post my article on the blog last night, but I did remember to tweet it. I tweeted 11 times during the event, and probably tweet more than that during a GU game. The point I’m trying to make -- and I’ve mentioned several times before in this space -- is is the best way to get Zag news from me. The ratio of tweets-to-blog posts is probably 15/20-to-1.

Read on for more.


--First, on the Kelly Olynyk situation. The junior forward wasn’t at the Kennel on Saturday because of an unresolved issue overseen by Student Life (tweeted at 4:05, by the way). There isn’t a link available to GU’s release, but it’s essentially the last four paragraphs of this recap.

A.D. Mike Roth declined further comment and head coach Mark Few referred questions to Roth. More on Student Life and its role at Gonzaga here. The press release notes that “per university policy, the university does not provide details on matters regarding individual students.”

Details are obviously sketchy, but here are some educated guesses, read-between-the-lines observations. Olynyk has been practicing with the team. So, it’s reasonable to assume that whatever the issue, it hasn’t been deemed serious enough for Olynyk to be held out of practice, suspended or booted from the team. It’s also reasonable to assume it’s serious enough that Olynyk wasn’t allowed to participate in Kraziness at the Kennel, knowing that his absence was certain to draw attention from the media and 6,500 or so at the MAC.

Judging by Olynyk’s track record, it’s probably not an academic issue. He was on the WCC Commissioner’s 2011-12 Honor Roll with a 3.56 GPA in accounting and I believe he’s on pace to earn his degree in December.

The second paragraph of the release reads: “We anticipate the matter will be resolved in the near future, at which time updated information will be provided.” Near future leaves plenty of wiggle room, but it appears a resolution is coming soon. It sounds as if the process has been going on for some time.

We’ll see if that resolution means good or bad news for Olynyk and the team.

--On the court – keeping in mind that it was just a 15-minute scrimmage with a couple of key pieces missing (Elias Harris, sidelined with groin injury) – the Zags may have found a long-term answer at ‘3’. The only problem is Gerard Coleman, under NCAA transfer rules, has to sit out this season. The wiry, long-armed 6-4 Coleman was a force offensively, ran the floor and finished, and showed an ability to slash to the basket that has been absent in GU’s program the last few years.

“He’s a baller,” coach Mark Few said. “He can really pass. Right now his perimeter shot isn’t his strength, but it doesn’t affect how good he is on the offensive end. And he’s a heck of a finisher.”

--Kevin Pangos and David Stockton have added several pounds of muscle, which should help both guards deal with the physical demands inherent to their position (think back-court traps, absorbing contact on drives into traffic and especially at the defensive end).

--Pangos lost in the semifinals of the 3-point contest, then came up on the short end of the Red-Blue scrimmage, despite scoring 11 points on 3-of-5 3-point shooting.

“I was a loser today,” a grinning Pangos said. “I’m going to hear about it tonight.”

Beyond his 3-pointers, the move that caught my attention was when Pangos pump-faked defender Stockton into the air, took one dribble inside the 3-point arc and buried a 17-foot jumper before the defense could provide help.

It was an example of what Pangos talked about prior to GU’s first practice, that he’s worked on expanding his offensive options, i.e. driving to the hole, creating his own shot.

--Przemek Karnowski had just six points and no rebounds – I recall Rob Sacre having zero rebounds in a Krazy scrimmage and you can be sure he heard about it from the coaches – but it’s obvious PK has a nice feel for the game. He didn’t seem totally at ease, but that’s probably to be expected. He’s only practiced a few times. His left hand has been swollen after getting whacked by a teammate prior to the first practice.

One of the preseason worries from GU followers was the 300-pounder’s conditioning level, but he appears to be in good shape and runs the floor pretty well. Doubt he’s ready for the 28-30 fast-paced minutes that Sacre played every game, but that may not be what’s asked of Karnowski. With Sam Dower and Olynyk (provided he is with the team), the minutes could be spread around at the ‘5’ -- and ‘4’, for that matter.

Karnowski did hit a soft-touch, left-handed hook shot and made a nice move before missing a fallaway 12-footer.

“He has a tremendous feel, tremendous hands,” Few said. “You maybe didn’t see it tonight, but he really has nice touch on his shot. He’s just getting into the groove of how physical it is here and so much has been thrown at him. It reminds me of when ‘E’ (Elias) first got here. Everyone wants to correct everything and the language barrier … every once in a while we just have to leave him alone. But his feel for the game is exceptional.”

Few said Karnowski has passed so well during practice that he’s had to remind the center to “be a little more aggressive offensively.”

--Speaking of reminders, after watching Gary Bell Jr. make 13 of 15 in the finals of the 3-point contest, Few noticed early in the scrimmage that Bell had attempted just one shot.

“The thing with Gary is to get him to keep hunting shots,” Few said. “I mentioned it to ‘Stocks’ at the first or second timeout that Gary had taken just one shot and he just won the 3-point contest, ‘Let’s get this guy a 3.’ And David came down right away made a good penetration move and found him.”

--Dower can fill the basket, that’s been the case since he stepped on campus. He scored 11 points, but Dower also did a creditable job defending Karnowski, despite being 55 pounds lighter. Early on, Dower left Karnowski to help on a Pangos drive and swatted the guard’s shot. Dower later poked away an entry pass intended for Karnowski that led to a steal.

--Drew Barham, who broke his nose earlier in the week, wore protective glasses. He said his nose is still broken and expects it to be re-set at a doctor’s appointment Monday. It’ll also be determined if he’ll have to wear a mask or special glasses.

“I can definitely feel it,” he said. “It did hurt, but I just tried to do as much as I could. I wasn’t going to make any dumb moves out there.”

--The Zags still have some depth, even without Harris and Olynyk. Said Mike Hart, who is battling for minutes at the ‘3’: “The depth is noticeable, the balance is noticeable. In practice, if you’re not doing your job, someone else is going to come in and do it for you.”

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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.

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