Good morning. We'll get right to it because I get to be a fan of my kid's games today!
Read on for my day-after San Francisco post.
—Redshirt freshman Kyle Dranginis made his first career start, mainly due to the style of defense employed by USF. He struggled a bit early, but was solid for the majority of his 21 minutes. He had three points (all at the FT line), two assists and three steals.
“They like to trap and do different things,” coach Mark Few said. “Kyle has a great feel for the game so I thought it would give him a chance to open the floor up and make some plays.”
It also underscores the value of Mike Hart, who has started most of the games at ‘3’ since the Campbell contest on Dec. 19, with the exception of a couple of Guy Landry Edi starts mixed in. As Few says often, Hart does what he does defensively, rebounding and in the hustle department. And Hart does it whether he’s starting and playing 23 minutes or coming off the bench for 3-minute cameos. Few pointed out earlier this season that Hart has volunteered his starting position to others if he thought it would help the team or another player get his game going. I doubt that was the case this time – certainly Hart has earned the starting job – but his steadiness gives GU that luxury.
Dranginis found out he was starting at Friday’s practice.
“Just getting in at a different time of the game,” Dranginis said. “I’m still trying to bring what I try to bring to the table, making plays and bringing energy.”
But it was nice to start, no?
“I’m not going to lie, it was fun,” he said. “But I was dialed into the game so I didn’t really look around too much. I just have to keep getting shots up, kind of get used to shooting the ball in the game. I think it will come in time, but it needs to hurry up and come.”
He was 0 for 4, 0 for 3 on 3-pointers.
—Maybe my eyes aren’t as bad as I thought. Sam Dower’s tough, fadeaway 15-foot jumper did come after the buzzer to end the first half, but he was credited with the hoop anyway. I watched the replay and the ball was clearly in his left hand for a half-count after time reached 0.0.
Officials ruled that the basket counted. When the officials walked over to the scorer’s table I assumed the play would be reviewed, but they had a short discussion and left the floor.
—Edi (ankle) went through warm-ups, but didn’t play. He was in the training room receiving treatment after the game.
—Przemek Karnowski had the wind knocked out of him after absorbing an elbow on a clean post-up move by 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tao Xu. The 7-foot center had to leave the game for a few minutes but returned later.
Karnowski has been battling a cold/fever seemingly for weeks. On Tuesday at media day he’d lost his voice, but he was feeling a little better by Saturday. He said he’s been taking antibiotics. And yes, his voice was back.
—The Dons did what several others have done this season against Gonzaga: They sagged off one or two perimeter players to pay more attention to Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. They basically ignored Dranginis and at times Gary Bell Jr., staying 4-5 feet away when either had the ball. Same with Mike Hart (as USF coach Rex Walters mentioned in my game story).
Belldid make two 3s and Drew Barham again added a spark off the bench, nailing two 3s in the first half, as well as making two steals and blocking a shot. Barham’s emergence has the added benefit of forcing opponents to respect GU at the 3-point line and opening up more space for interior players.
—Blanchette wrote about Harris dialing up his intensity/effort in his column, and here are a couple of perfect examples. Early in the first half, Harris had the ball, leading a 3-on-1 fastbreak, but his pass was intercepted. Harris’ momentum took him to the free-throw line, some 70 feet from USF’s basket. The Dons went the other way and hoisted a transition 3. When the ball left the shooter’s hands, there were six other players closer to the basket than Harris, but he raced in and grabbed the board.
And there was this sequence late in the first half. Harris pogo-sticked into the air five times trying to keep an offensive rebound alive that eventually went to the Dons. At the other end of the floor, the ball was poked away from a Dons player and hustling Harris dove to tie the ball up with USF’s Cole Dickerson.
Harris had another double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), his second in a row, fourth of the season and 25th of his career.
—A post-game exchange between Walters and Olynyk on Twitter wasn’t quite as it appeared, but it was funny nonetheless.
An Olynyk parody account @BigKellz13 (Olynyk’s account is actually @BigKelz13) tweeted to Walters: “You can send the money to fix the scratch in the floor from your clipboard fiasco to 502 E. Boone.” Walters slammed his clipboard to the court in frustration during a first-half timeout.
Responded Walters (@USFBBallcoach): “Next year, you’ll make enough money 2 buy a new arena for Fewey! Just get them a new floor, I want to get a Dub there 1st.”
Walters called Olynyk a “lottery pick” in his post-game comments. Obviously he wouldn’t be broken-hearted if Olynyk decides to skip his senior season.
STATS OF NOTE
—Gonzaga’s 23-point second half equaled its season low for 20 minutes. The Zags scored 23 points against Clemson in the first half at the Old Spice.
—Bell didn’t have a great shooting night (3 of 8, 2 of 7 on 3s), but his 8 points was his highest since scoring 12 at Santa Clara on Jan. 5.
—David Stockton had four more assists. The junior has had at least three assists in his last eight games. He has 70 for the season, just five behind the team-leading Pangos.
—Gonzaga shot 44.8 percent (thanks to a 29.6% second half), actually its second worst effort of the season (43.4 vs. Pepperdine).
—GU wore out USF with a 20-2 edge in points in the paint in the first half. By game’s end, it was 26-16.
Dranginis, on GU’s defense of late: “Against BYU we played great on defense. We’re bringing so much energy and hustle, when we do that we’re a very hard to beat. We have to keep bringing it on the defensive end.”
Walters, on GU’s defense: “They did do some things defensively that bothered us with their ball-screen defense, they turned it up and they got physical with us. We made some adjustments and it was better in the second half, but at that point it was a little too late. I’m not going to say Gonzaga played their ‘A’ game in the second half, but I thought our ball movement was better, I thought our handling of ball-screen defense was better and our personnel defense was better against them.”
Pangos, on Barham providing a spark of late: “Yeah, when he shoots it. I tell him, ‘Shoot the ball.’ He’s lights-out in practice, that’s what we need as a team. And more than just that (shooting), he’s playing good defense.”
Dower, on GU’s effort: “Teams that don’t play hard don’t win as many games. Coach (Few) emphasizes playing like junkyard dogs.”
Harris on rebounding: “It’s kind of my fuel, it gets me going.”
Harris on climbing GU’s all-time rebounding and scoring lists: “I’m proud obviously to pass great guys that come through this program … but I’m not going to get too caught up in that.”