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Zag roundup

We're not going to spend much time reviewing Gonzaga's 15-minute scrimmage during Kraziness in the Kennel on Saturday but we do have a few observations and notes below.

Here's a link to my article in Sunday's S-R. Read on.

--First, a quick look back. Kraziness in the Kennel had a much smoother launch this year compared to last year’s event. A year ago Kelly Olynyk wasn’t even in the building due to an unspecified violation of the student code of conduct in what turned out to be a three-game suspension. Elias Harris basically sat out last year’s Kraziness with a groin injury. The Red team played without a sub.

No such issues this time around as each squad had eight players.

--Every season seems to bring a name change or a new pronunciation for one of GU’s players. You’ll notice in my article Sam Dower was referred to as Sam Dower Jr. Last week Gonzaga sent out a release that Dower wanted to be referred to as Sam Dower Jr. in honor of his dad.

“I really didn’t care about it but my dad said it would make him happy if I did it so out of respect I said I’d do it for him,” Dower said. Sounds reasonable.

--Sophomore center Przemek Karnowski had a couple of baskets but more notable was his two blocked shots in the paint. Olynyk (36) and Harris (19) combined for 55 blocks last year. Shem (11) and Dower (15) totaled 26, a strong number considering their minutes played in comparison to the starters.

Karnowski and Dower will log the heavy minutes this season and their ability to defend and rebound will be important to a GU team that lacks interior depth. Karnowski swatted Kyle Wiltjer’s dunk attempt and then batted away Gerard Coleman’s shot when the guard penetrated in the lane.

“We’re trying, me and Sam, to protect the paint as well as we can,” Karnowski said. “That’s what coach expects us to do, so I try to do my job.”

Said coach Mark Few: “We need to keep growing that part of his game, protecting the rim and doing a good job in the paint. We didn’t probably do as good a job of finding him and looking for him in high-low (on offense) and that needs to be a big part of our game.”

--Nagging knee and ankle injuries forced Gary Bell Jr. to rest all summer, but the junior guard seems to be in pretty good condition.

“It felt really good because I was out the whole summer,” he said. “To finally play in front of a crowd was a great feeling because I didn’t get to finish the game against Wichita State. To get back rolling feels good. I feel better than I have in a while.”

--Kyle Wiltjer, who will sit out this season under transfer rules, led all scorers with 11 points.

“So skilled,” Pangos said. “He’s going to really help us next year.”

I met Wiltjer’s father, Greg, after the scrimmage. He played at NIC and Oregon State and was a member of the 1984 Canadian Olympic team. Kyle is hard at work with GU training guru Travis Knight, whose efforts with Olynyk helped the former Zag transform his body and his game. Greg said Kyle’s body essentially hasn’t changed since high school.

Kyle even lifted weights prior to Saturday’s Kraziness. After seeing some of Knight’s drills, Greg joked that he wouldn’t mind jumping into some of the conditioning workouts.

The elder Wiltjer also said it’s been great to have his son closer to the family’s home base in Portland.

--Speaking of body makeovers, Karnowski continues to make progress redefining his 7-1 frame.

“That what I’ve been working on,” he said. “I think that’s my biggest weakness. I feel much better.”

I tried to keep a straight face when I asked Karnowski why he wasn’t entered in the 3-point shooting contest.

“I was surprised,” Karnowski deadpanned. “I asked the managers, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

--The Red team made just 7 of 27 shots (25.9 percent). Barham was 0 of 5, Nunez 0-3. The Red didn’t have a player make 50 percent of their shots. Pangos was 3 of 7 and Shem 2 of 5.

The Blue finished 12 of 29, but made six steals (two each by Coleman, Bell and Stockton).

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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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