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Day after Santa Clara

I'm thrilled to post the day-after Santa Clara because it means I'm finally home! Seven-day road trip and my longest stay in Los Angeles since the 1997 Rose Bowl.

The links: My game story, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury-News and A.P.

Read on for more.


—Kelly Olynyk was virtually unstoppable, inside and outside. Santa Clara rarely double-teamed the 7-footer and he made them pay. Of course, it’s not easy to double when a number of Olynyk’s touches are coming 12-17 feet from the basket. Earlier in the week I spoke to Broncos coach Kerry Keating, who made a comment that explains in part why SCU shied away from doubling GU’s bigs.

“Our (inside) depth is pretty good. We knew Gonzaga had a roster of big kids coming back, but I felt confident we’d have the depth to deal with it,” he said. “The primary issue is (guard Kevin) Pangos, to be honest. They’re all the primary issue; they’re talented at every spot. One of the more important guys is a former walk-on (Mike Hart). It’s a credit to the type of team Mark is developing and his recruiting and they’re established.

“But you look at Pangos and someone has to keep it all together. He’s as good as advertised.”

Olynyk shrugged his shoulders when asked about having 1-on-1 matchups most of the game.

“You’d have to ask them,” he said. “They doubled me once and when I started to penetrate I saw guys come over, but then it was easy to drop (the ball) off to Sam (Dower). It’s hard to double if you’re accustomed to it. It leaves things wide open if you’re not good at it.”

—The game was barely a minute or two old and Kevin Pangos was rubbing his right eye after being inadvertently poked by Santa Clara’s Evan Roquemore. Pangos’ vision was fuzzy. He eventually checked out of the game and went to the locker room for medical attention.

“Right off the bat, I’m just dribbling up the court and by accident, a complete fluke, he poked me,” Pangos said. “My eye kept watering, I couldn’t see, it stung and everything was blurry.”

Pangos went to the locker room and saw “the eye doctor guy and he got me fixed up a little bit. It’s still a little foggy. He put a bandage contact in my eye, just to cover up the scratch so it wasn’t painful.”

Pangos said Roquemore was apologetic about the mishap.

As he spoke, Pangos was unraveling the tape wrapped around his hamstring, which has been bugging him off and on for about a month. It’s the kind of thing that often goes unnoticed but it’s a common sight post-game in the locker room as nearly every player is dealing with some tweak, strain or pull as the season reaches the mid-way point. Most of the time, they seek treatment, get taped up or braced, and head back on the court.

—The free-throw line, a sore spot earlier this season, was good to the Zags on this road trip. GU was 15 of 18 (83 percent) against Oklahoma State, 25 of 29 (86 percent) against Pepperdine and 27 of 30 (90 percent) versus Santa Clara.

“Coach (Few) has been on us,” Pangos said. “It’s two things: Time in the gym and also mental toughness. Guys have been committed, just focusing and knocking them down. That can be the difference in a game.”

—Backup guard David Stockton had an impressive road trip. In three games and 57 minutes of playing time, Stockton had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 turnovers and 7 steals.

 

STATS OF NOTE

—Olynyk’s three-game totals: 23 of 35 field goals (65.7 percent), 2 of 4 3-pointers (50 percent), 22 of 26 free throws (84.6 percent). He averaged 23.3 points and 7.7 rebounds.

—Not only was Olynyk’s 33 points a career high, but his 10 boards equaled his career best. Saturday marked his second career double-double.

—GU followed up its season-low 43.4% FG shooting against Pepperdine with a Division I, season-high tying 55.3% against SCU. The Zags shot 64% against NAIA LCSC and 55.3% against South Dakota.

Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster surpassed 2,000 career points.

—GU was outrebounded for the second straight game (32-30) and just the third time this season (WSU, Pepperdine).

—Olynyk has scored in double figures in 12 of his 13 games and Harris in 14 of his 15 games.

—Gonzaga (27 of 30) has had four games with at least 30 free throw attempts and nine with at least 25.

—With Olynyk’s 33-point effort, GU now has four players who have had 30-point games (Pangos, 33 vs. WSU; Harris 31 vs. Saint Mary’s and Kyle Dranginis 30 vs. LCSC).

QUOTEBOOK

Harris, on returning to Spokane after a seven-day road trip: “I’m so ready to go home.”

Pangos on Olynyk: “He played amazing, inside, outside, getting to the line. It was fun to play with him.”

Harris, on the road trip: “It was the longest road trip but also the toughest since I’ve been here. We were poised, we stuck together and got three really important wins.”


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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