Back with my day-after post from Gonzaga's 74-60 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday. Here's my game story, Jesse Tinsley's photo gallery and John Blanchette's column. Another gamer from Vince Grippi working for AP.
UPDATE: According to Gonzaga, junior guard Gary Bell Jr., who injured his right hand in the first few minutes against Santa Clara, will see a hand specialist on Monday.
—Gonzaga’s training room has been pretty crowded lately.
Sam Dower Jr. (lower back) didn’t play vs. Santa Clara and I’ll be surprised if he plays Monday against USF. He hasn’t been able to run. My guess is he’s pointing toward Thursday against Saint Mary’s and Saturday vs. Pacific for his return, but even that isn’t a guarantee.
Kevin Pangos was in agony when he caught his injured right big toe on an SCU player while trying to fight through a screen in the second half. He departed for about 4 minutes, but returned to finish off a 17-point, zero-turnover effort.
Pangos changed shoes before returning to the floor and trainer Jen Nyland grabbed something that I’m guessing was the “contraption,” the brace/pad that Pangos has been wearing to protect his toe. Pangos wasn’t available for interviews after the game, but he told me a while ago the brace requires him to wear a bigger shoe.
“Kevin again was really courageous,” coach Mark Few said, “as bad as he’s hurting to make those plays at the end to kind of seal it.”
Bell wasn’t quite sure how he hurt his right (shooting) hand, but it was puffy afterward and he was being taken for X-rays.
“I kind of remember the play. (Brandon) Clark had the ball and tried pass over me,” Bell said. “I think I tipped it and after that it started hurting. I honestly don’t know how it happened.”
Bell took only four shots and played just 16 minutes. He didn’t attempt a shot in 7 second-half minutes.
“I really couldn’t shoot,” he said. “Coaches put me in there and I tried to do everything they wanted to do on defense.”
Said Kyle Dranginis: “It shows how much they care about this team, playing banged up and getting banged up even more and still getting out there. It shows how tough we are as a team, that we have guys ready to step up after our starters.”
—As you can guess from the first item, GU-SCU wasn’t going to be a work of art but it was interesting to watch as the Zags cycled through the roster to find production with their three leading scorers stuck on the injury list.
The starters, Przemek Karnowski, Pangos and particularly David Stockton (21 points, 4 steals), did their share, but GU needed help elsewhere and found it from Drew Barham (who started in place of Dower), Angel Nunez, Kyle Dranginis and cameos from freshmen Ryan Edwards and Luke Meikle.
“Stockton’s a senior, he’s smart and he understands the flow of the game and what has to get done,” Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said. “He’s become a little bit of a riverboat gambler on the steal and helping off guys. He did what a senior guard should do in this league.”
Stockton’s previous career high was 19 points vs. Michigan State. His season high was 10 points.
—It seems odd to point out Gonzaga’s defense after SCU shot 54 percent in the second half and 47 percent for the game. While the Zags gave up some quality shots, they also forced 15 turnovers (which turned into 28 points) and kept SCU off the offensive glass.
Gonzaga’s six blocked shots was its third highest total this season.
“That has to be the normal, that’s how we have to bring ourselves into every game,” Stockton said. “We’re scrappy, a lot of little guards playing, even at the 4 spot. We have to be junkyard dogs.”
—Nunez, who didn’t play against Kansas State, logged 13 minutes and finished with eight points, three blocks and three boards. He played in a couple of exhibition games for Louisville last season and was used sparingly in his freshmen season with the Cardinals.
“It was just fun,” Nunez said of his Gonzaga debut. “I just had fun. I just tried to win, making winning plays. I couldn’t even describe it.”
Nunez, an athletic 6-8, 200-pounder, gives GU some options. He’ll mainly play the ‘4’, but he’s capable of playing the ‘3’ or ‘5’. He was a presence defensively vs. the Broncos. He declined a couple of perimeter jumpers and drove to the basket, earning trips to the free-throw line.
“I’m just glad I was able to be versatile,” he said. “We can do a lot of different things when I go out there, try to switch some things and contest shots at the rim.”
Few was pleased with Nunez’s play, but wants to see it on a more consistent basis.
“He’s a high-level athlete,” Few said. “When he chooses to play with energy and effort then he can make plays that high-level athletes can make. He needs to simplify it and find his way around on offense. Picking up the system has been difficult for him. Maintaining effort for long periods of time has been very difficult for him.”
STATS OF NOTE
—Karnowski made a couple of nice post moves but wasn’t able to finish from inside 4 feet. He still had 10 points and eight boards, but committed three turnovers.
—SCU’s Evan Roquemore nailed a long 3-pointer early, but finished 1 of 6 from distance. He also had seven turnovers and was called for a technical foul after slamming the ball in frustration with 1:14 left.
—GU had the upper hand in several categories: Points in paint 32-16, points off turnovers 28-11, second-chance points 5-3, fastbreak points 8-5 and bench points 15-6.
—The Bulldogs made 23 of 31 free throws (Karnowski was 6 of 11). SCU was 6 of 12.
—Pangos has scored in double figures in 12 of 13 games. He had nine points vs. Coppin State. He’s scored at least 13 points 11 times.
—Gerard Coleman hasn’t scored in three games. He’s 0 of 4 from the field in 19 minutes in that span.
—Edwards is 7 of 8 at the FT line this season.
Few on Edwards: “He’s getting himself in (good) enough shape where he can help us in short stints.”
Dranginis on SCU’s guard line of Clark (22 points), Brownridge (12) and Roquemore (11): “Those three guards really get after it on the offensive end. I think (SCU) might surprise some teams in conference.”
Few on Dower: “He’s getting better every day. He has a chance (Monday), but again that was a pretty horrific fall. He’s still really sore.”
Stockton on GU’s short-handed roster: “You sound the alarm and get everyone on board and let’s go.”
Nunez: “We’re hurting right now, but we’ll be just fine.”
Few on the rotation: “They all got opportunities to be out there, and some of them handled those opportunities better than others. You have to go with what you think is going to work and who you think is going to work. We had the opportunity to pretty much try everybody. We played the guys that were making plays.”