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Fri., Feb. 1, 2013, 8:44 p.m.

Grier, struggling USD awaits Gonzaga

San Diego coaches Bill Grier, right, and Mike Burns returned to familiar surroundings on Saturday.  (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
San Diego coaches Bill Grier, right, and Mike Burns returned to familiar surroundings on Saturday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Good evening from San Diego.

Hard to believe it's Bill Grier's sixth year as San Diego's head coach after 16 seasons on Gonzaga's bench. Grier's team is battling to stay above .500 overall (11-11) and in the WCC (4-3) heading into tomorrow night's contest with the 7th-ranked Zags (20-2, 7-0).

My unedited preview is below.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

SAN DIEGOSan Diego men’s basketball coach Bill Grier might have a solution for his team’s scoring issues over the last three games.

Grier phoned his congratulations earlier this week to USD-bound Brett Bailey, the University High senior who broke the Greater Spokane League scoring record with 47 points against Rogers.

“We’ve got four games in eight days. I said, ‘Brett, why don’t you catch a flight and play in the three home games,’ ” joked Grier, who expects Bailey to make an immediate impact next season as a true freshman. “It’s just like the kid, the first thing he said was, ‘The good thing is we won and it was a good win, one we really needed.’ ”

Grier’s Toreros (11-11 overall) could use a win after starting conference 4-0 against Portland, San Francisco, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, a foursome with a combined WCC record of 6-27. But the WCC’s quirky schedule, thanks to a nine-team configuration, then brought BYU, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara, and three lopsided losses.

No. 7 Gonzaga (20-2, 7-0 WCC), where Grier served as an assistant for 16 years under Dan Fitzgerald, Dan Monson and Mark Few, visits the Jenny Craig Pavilion tonight.

“As ‘Fitz’ would have said, against better pitching we’ve struggled,” Grier said. “And playing Gonzaga isn’t exactly a recipe for building confidence, but it is what it is. Then we have LMU, BYU, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara. This is a brutal stretch for us.”

USD scored just 57, 48 and 50 points in dropping three straight.

“When we won those four in a row, I really attributed that to the three seniors (Ken Rancifer, Cameron Miles and Chris Manresa). They played with a real consistency,” Grier said. “They didn’t play nearly as well in our last three games. Teams are doing a good job on (guards Johnny) Dee and (Christopher) Anderson and we just haven’t had a consistent scoring punch on the interior.”

Dee averages a team-high 14.4 points, followed by Rancifer’s 9.8, Anderson’s 9.4 and Manresa’s 8.4.

“Those two little guards are really driving the train,” Few said. “Anderson can be a pest on defense and I’m sure he’ll be chasing Kevin (Pangos) all over the place. Dee is capable of making shots from all over the floor and it’s been bigs by committee.”



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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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