While Gonzaga students have more than three weeks off over the holidays, GU men’s basketball players get roughly 4-5 days. And as you’re reading this, those 4-5 days are already over.
The players fanned out for a short holiday break after Gonzaga’s blowout loss to Duke on Saturday in New York. Many of their flights departed Sunday from the East Coast and the players were due back in Spokane for afternoon practice on Christmas Day.
Matt Bouldin flew home to Colorado. Demetri Goodson and Elias Harris were on the same flight to Houston. Goodson was heading to Spring, Texas, to be with family, while Harris, a German native, spent the break with his father in League City, roughly a 50-minute drive from Spring. There wasn’t enough time to return to Germany.
“I’ll be happy to spend some time with my family and do something else than just play basketball for a couple days,” Harris said last week, prior to the team’s trip to New York. “Just relax and get ready for our next set of games.”
Shorter breaks are common for student-athletes. Football players often spend a good chunk of their summer on campus for conditioning and player-organized drills. There isn’t much of an offseason in today’s college athletics and there are few extended breaks in season.
“If they want space, we give them space,” Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd said. “If they want to come to the house to eat, we’re happy to have them. Sometimes they go with other teammates to their houses and a lot of times they just need a break from coaches and basketball because coaches equal basketball.”
At least two Zags, roommates Robert Sacre and Steven Gray, planned on staying in Spokane. Gray said he doesn’t mind going places, but he’s not a big fan of lengthy return trips.
“We stayed last year, too,” Sacre said. “My mom might come down (from Canada). We just hang out in beautiful Spokane. Last year we took Austin’s bed and went sledding on it. It was horrible; we didn’t go anywhere. It just stuck, but we tried.”
There are no plans for a second annual Austin Daye mattress sledding party. Cooking is on the back burner, too.
“That’s the blind leading the blind,” Sacre said of the two’s culinary skills. “Steven always puts green onions in whatever he cooks. I put in garlic.”
“We’re going to have to figure something out,” Gray said. “I make a little bit of breakfast, that’s about the extent of it.”
They have an open invitation at assistant coach Leon Rice’s house, but Sacre rarely makes long-range plans.
“I’m a one-day-at-a-time person,” he said. “Once the Duke game is over, then I’ll think about the days off.”
Rice doesn’t mind additional company.
“When the guys come over, it changes everything,” Rice said. “We have three boys. It changes the leftover factor. There are no leftovers.
“It’s a comfortable chance to get to know the players better and they get to know your families. You get to see a different side of them and it’s neat for my family.”