And now a word or two from Saint Mary’s center Omar Samhan, who has never been shy about exercising his right to free speech.
“I always say we’re lucky to have each other,” Samhan said of the Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga rivalry, which renews tonight at 8. “We don’t like Gonzaga and they don’t like us, but it makes it much more fun for the fans and the league.”
Samhan said he can’t wait to be reunited with the 6,000 who fill McCarthey Athletic Center.
“They hate me. I get e-mails from all their fans. They tell me how overrated we are, they don’t like how I play,” Samhan said. “Their students are crazy and fun and hilarious. I truly say they like me. Spokane is like a home away from home for me.”
It was a phone interview so it was hard to tell how far Samhan’s tongue was planted in his cheek, but the effusive center clearly enjoys the give and take. Same goes on the court.
“Josh (Heytvelt, GU forward) doesn’t want to talk on the court,” Samhan said. “I don’t know why he’s so serious. If Josh doesn’t want to talk to me, I’ll find somebody else to talk to.”
“I don’t think I get along with anybody I play against,” Heytvelt said. “I’m just fine with guys off the court, but as soon as I step inside the lines it’s completely different.”
Samhan’s take on the game? “It’s going to be up and down because we get out and run, high scoring, exactly what the fans want. They get to see me play. Everything they could want in Spokane.”
Up and down
Washington State’s shooting woes against USC – the Cougars were 14 of 51 from the field for a season-low 27.5 percent – came on the heels of a second half against UCLA in which WSU shot 63.6 percent, hitting 14 of 22 attempts.
Asked to explain, WSU coach Tony Bennett couldn’t.
“We were solid,” against UCLA, Bennett said. “Against USC, I thought we got as many good looks … as we’ve had in a long time. … We just struggled to knock them down.”
Monday, Bennett worked with senior Daven Harmeling, who has scored just 10 points in Pac-10 play, adjusting Harmeling’s release and the arc of his shot. Harmeling, who last started in the conference opener against Washington, is slated to start at the small forward tonight.
Eastern Washington University is 2-8 on the road heading into this week’s annual swing through Montana.
Yet the Eagles’ road woes pale in comparison to most Big Sky teams, which are a collective 22-71 in true road games. EWU’s road record is tied with Montana’s for the fourth best in the conference behind league-leading Portland State (6-3), Weber State (5-5) and Montana State (3-5).
Northern Colorado is right behind the Eagles and Grizzlies at 2-9, followed by Northern Arizona (1-10), Idaho State (1-11) and Sacramento State (0-12).