The trio made the obligatory Senior Night guarantee: No tears during pre-game ceremonies.
“I won’t be crying or anything like that,” said Gonzaga’s Matt Bouldin, following Saturday’s win over San Francisco. “I’m sure I’ll feel something, but it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m sure it’ll hit me the next few days.”
Bouldin, reserve center Will Foster and walk-on guard Chris Pontarolo-Maag have made their marks on the program in vastly different ways as they prepare to take the McCarthey Athletic Center court for the last time when Cal State-Bakersfield (7-21) visits tonight. Head coach Mark Few typically starts seniors in their final home game, meaning it’ll be the first for Foster and Pontarolo-Maag and the 114th for Bouldin.
Bouldin’s name is prominent throughout Gonzaga’s record book. The versatile 6-foot-5 guard is in the top 10 in scoring – he’s four points behind No. 8 Richie Frahm and 29 behind No. 7 Jeff Brown – and in the top five in assists and steals.
“Matt’s going to go down in history as one of the all-time greats at Gonzaga,” Few said. “He’s as complete a player as you’re ever going to coach, just like all the other great ones we’ve had here.”
Foster has largely been a spectator during his four years, but he’s provided valuable minutes through most of this WCC season.
“He’s really helped us in some games,” Few said.
Foster had a career-high six points against Portland, and then topped it with eight against Memphis two days later.
“I’ve come in and done my best,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep my head up. That’s a big deal to me, my confidence. I’ve been called on it over and over here and it’s something I’ve been working on.”
Foster’s remaining goal is for the Bulldogs to go deeper in the NCAA tournament than his previous three years. Gonzaga lost to North Carolina in the Sweet 16 last season after first-round exits the prior two seasons.
“I’m definitely going to miss the atmosphere that is the Kennel Club and the great fans. I know that sounds kind of cheesy,” Foster said. “It’s weird to say, but I’m going to miss Spokane. I never thought I’d say that, but I’ve kind of adapted to it here.”
Pontarolo-Maag, much in the mold of 2009 senior Andrew Sorenson, is a fan favorite who made the squad as a junior after a couple of unsuccessful tryouts. His full-throttle effort in practice has earned the respect of his teammates.
“He’s been a great practice guy that keeps us loose and does a tremendous job with our team chemistry,” Few said.
“P-Maag,” as he’s known, has played just 26 minutes the last two seasons. He made a 3-pointer last year, but he’s only taken one shot and hasn’t scored this season. All of which matters little to the Quincy, Wash., High product.
“It’s been everything I dreamed of,” he said. “It took me a while to finally make it and accomplish it, which was one of my goals, but I’ve had a great time the whole time.”