Notebook: Confident Gray on hot streak
Gonzaga junior guard Steven Gray has put together a solid four-game stretch, averaging 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He’s made 55 percent of his shots and 84.6 percent of his free throws.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” teammate Matt Bouldin said. “When he looks to score and plays aggressively he’s tough. He’s definitely shown he can guard just about anybody in the country.”
Beyond the numbers, Gray has been involved in two memorable loose-ball pursuits. He collided with a San Diego player to retrieve a 50-50 ball and was involved in a four-player pileup (two Zags, two Gaels) that resulted in a tie-up against Saint Mary’s.
“If you take time to think about it, you might not get the ball,” Gray said of the play in San Diego. “I know we needed the ball, so you just go get it.”
Bouldin makes point
Gonzaga senior guard Bouldin scored 51 points in two wins last week to move past Derek Raivio into 12th place on the school’s all-time scoring list. Bouldin has scored 1,464 career points.
Bouldin was selected player of the week by the WCC and ESPN.com.
Klay Thompson has been the go-to guy offensively for Washington State all season. The 6-foot-6 sophomore wing is still the sixth-leading scorer in the nation (at 22.3 points per game) and leads the Pac-10. But recently Thompson has seen his scoring average (18.3 in conference) and shooting percentages drop.
In the eight Pac-10 games, Thompson is shooting 39.5 percent from the floor after hitting 48 percent when conference play started.
The drop has been more precipitous beyond the arc, where Thompson’s shooting percentage has fallen from 45.9 in preconference play to 25 percent in the Pac-10. He has hit nine of his last 38 3-pointers.
“He’s a better shooter than that,” WSU coach Ken Bone said of Thompson’s Pac-10 numbers.
And the Cougars need him to be.
“If we make some 3s, it tends to really open up some other things we try to do,” Bone said.
After Boise State pushed Monday’s game at Idaho into overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Vandals coach Don Verlin stuck firmly to his position that teams should not foul in the final seconds when up by three points.
“What you worry about in a situation like that is you foul him and he shoots a 3 and makes it,” Verlin said after the 77-67 loss to BSU. “That’s the only way you can lose the basketball game. So, no, I did not think about fouling (Anthony Thomas). My philosophy has always been, ‘Make them shoot a contested shot.’ ”
Thomas’ 3 would have been irrelevant had the Vandals not missed two free throws and committed three turnovers in the final 3 minutes of regulation. Two of those turnovers – on an errant pass and inbounds play – led to four BSU points in 12 seconds.
UI’s turnover problems have cropped up all year. It had 19 against BSU, despite Verlin going with more three-guard lineups to get more ball-handlers on the court at the same time.
Recovery at home?
Eastern is 6-15 on the season, with four of its victories coming at home.
“It should help,” coach Kirk Earlywine said of EWU being able to play its lone league game of the week on its own home floor. “I said after the PSU game a month ago that I didn’t do a good job of preparing our team on the defensive end of the floor for what PSU does. And we’ve made some changes, so we’ve been much better offensively since that game.”
The Eagles are coming off an 89-67 loss at Weber State in which the Wildcats opened a 10-0 lead and led the entire way. Eastern’s previous three losses in its current losing streak came by a combined 13 points. With starter Alden Gibbs missing EWU’s last four outings with a sprained ankle, the Eagles have played those games with just nine players available.
Area teams on TV
Area basketball games on TV this week include Gonzaga at Santa Clara Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 and Gonzaga at San Francisco on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on KHQ.
Idaho’s home game against Fresno State on Thursday at 7 p.m. will be aired on SWX.
Washington State will be at Washington on Saturday at 12:30 on FSN. Eastern’s game against Portland State on Saturday will be shown via tape delay on SWX at 10 p.m.