Gonzaga received some good news in the aftermath of its 72-62 loss to Kansas State. According to GU, X-rays on Sam Dower Jr.'s lower back were negative and he's heading home for Christmas with his family.
Here's my game story. More on Dower's nasty fall and other items below in my day-after post.
--Back in the 2007-08 season, Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo took a nasty fall near the end of a Zags’ win over Georgia. Pargo, ever the tough guy, said, “Put it this way: If it happened in the first half, I would have finished the game.”
Pargo played the next couple weeks with a large, puffy bruise that spanned the width of his back. Pargo, ever the showman, wasn’t shy about showing off the bruise when asked. His toughness is legendary in the program.
Pargo’s fall and Dower’s fall were similar in that both weren’t able to protect themselves on the way down. Dower’s happened about 25 feet from my seat on the baseline and he was in excruciating pain, holding his lower back.
The good news is it appears nothing’s broken and GU has a few days off before beginning preparations for Saturday’s home game against Santa Clara. The bad news is Dower will almost certainly be dealing with some amount of pain and stiffness.
The scary thing is this has happened before to Dower.
“He had one of those (falls) earlier in practice about a month or so ago, where he didn’t get his hands under him or anything,” coach Mark Few said. “I thought it was going to be the same thing.”
--Minus Dower, Gonzaga went small around 7-1 center Przemek Karnowski, who logged 17 of 20 possible minutes in the second half. Pangos, Bell, Dranginis all played 20 minutes and Barham played 15. Stockton played six minutes and Luke Meikle played 2 minutes at center.
Forward Angel Nunez was eligible to play for the first time, but coaches cautioned during the week it was unlikely he would see many minutes, if at all. Turns out Nunez didn’t see the court.
Gonzaga attempted to spread the floor and create off the bounce. Karnowski had moments throughout, making 5 of 6 FGs, but he missed all six of his free throws, including two when he replaced the injured Dower at the stripe. Karnowski’s extended minutes seemed to be a factor defensively when K-State’s Thomas Gipson maneuvered for several key baskets in the latter stages.
“We kind of went away from going inside at the end,” Bell said. “Shem was open a couple of times and we didn’t give it to him. We have to find other shots if we’re not going to do that, better shots.”
Few said Gonzaga was basically reduced to being a “jump-shooting team.”
Said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber: “In some ways it helped them. He is their second-leading scorer but what they did was went small ball and spread us out and that is where they were getting us was on the penetration and kick. We could not help as much … and we did not do as good of job with the weak-side help as we did in the first half.”
--Pangos scored all 14 of his points in the second half (I had him for 12 points overall and Dranginis for 10, different than the official book). Bell struggled throughout, making 1 of 7 shots for 3 points. While opponents sag off Coleman and Stockton, they pay close attention to Pangos and Bell.
“Everybody is kind of face-guarding Bell and Pangos,” Few said. “Gary just missed a bunch of shots, a bunch of wide open shots. They did a nice job chasing him, but he’d tell you those are shots he’d normally make.”
Gonzaga has scored 80, 80, 68 and 62 points in its last four games – four of its five lowest totals this season.
STATS OF NOTE
--Both teams made 15 of 28 shots (53.6 percent) in the second half.
--GU’s 3-point shooting in the last four games: 4 of 10, 7 of 20, 2 of 14 and 7 of 21 vs. K-State.
--Gonzaga’s 12 turnovers matched a season high (Chaminade).
--The Zags never led by more than one point.
KSU forward Shane Southwell on Marcus Foster’s dunk over Stockton: “I am surprised that I did not get a technical foul because I was standing over Stockton looking at him. But a play like that always gets the team more energized and it builds team moral. Marcus is really athletic and once he got into that motion to jump, I knew it was over for Stockton.”
Karnowski on FT shooting: “I’ve been practicing, but I don’t know. I don’t know what I can say. It does not go in.”
Southwell on KSU’s defense: “I think that everyone has seen how great of a defensive team we are and honestly as a program we feel really good. Basically, coach Lowery and coach Weber asked us who was going to break first being that they are we are one of the better defensive teams in the country and they are one of the better offensive teams in the country, so it was all about who was going to break first.”
Few: “They came out in both halves with a little more energy than we did, a little more emotion, a little more fight to them. We did a nice job fighting our way back in and putting ourselves in position to win the game with 5-6 minutes left but they just made the plays from that point forward.”