Freshman forward Elias Harris became a big fan of Gonzaga’s crowd Saturday night.
“Blew me away completely,” the German native said of a standing-room-only gathering of 6,000-plus that filled the McCarthey Athletic Center to watch the GU men’s basketball team scrimmage as part of Kraziness in the Kennel festivities. “I didn’t think so many people would show up just for a scrimmage. In Europe that’s not normal.”
The sight of so many Bulldogs fans, hundreds standing two- and three-deep in the upper concourse, underscored their interest and curiosity levels in the 2009-2010 team, which has nine freshmen and essentially 10 newcomers.
“The fact that it was packed to the rafters for a scrimmage on a Saturday says a lot about our fans and the community,” head coach Mark Few said. “It was probably the most impressive part of the day.”
The basketball, as one might expect with so many new faces, ranged from sloppy to entertaining. There were two 10-minute scrimmages and a 7-minute session. Several players switched teams (from blue to red jerseys and vice versa). For what it’s worth, the Blue won 56-50.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Harris had a solid debut. He scored 14 points, finishing off two dunks on nifty passes from senior guard Matt Bouldin. Freshmen G.J. Vilarino, Mangisto Arop and Sam Dower also had nice stretches.
“We see (Harris’) athleticism every day at practice,” said Bouldin, who scored 14 points. “But it’s different getting out and playing with him. You start to get the hang of each other in practice and it was nice for him to showcase a little of what he can do.”
The newcomers certainly weren’t bashful at the offensive end.
“They probably need to tone it down a hair, especially early in the (shot) clock,” Few said. “But I’ve been after these guys to be a little more assertive, because we lost so much offense from last year’s team.”
Few is asking for more offensive initiative from his veterans. Sophomore point guard Demetri ‘Meech’ Goodson popped in a couple of jumpers and used his speed to score on drives and in transition. He finished with 13 points. Redshirt freshman wing Grant Gibbs hit a 3-pointer and a high-arcing scoop shot, as he was being fouled, that eluded defender Robert Sacre’s outstretched arm. Gibbs completed the three-point play.
“I want Meech to pull up and shoot the jumper and hunt shots more,” Few said. “He’s got a good shot, (but) he’s always just drove on people.”
Over the next couple of weeks, Few said he’ll concentrate on “role identification. We’ve got to start playing to our strengths. We need to communicate that to them. We need to shore up the rebounding, that’s going to be a big key for us, and cut down on turnovers.” … Sacre didn’t have a field goal, but he did make four free throws. “He’s had a lot better fall than he’s shown in our last two scrimmages,” Few said. … Sophomore forward Bol Kong watched from the bench with an ankle injury.