Steven Gray showed off his quick wit when asked to review the six-show run of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Magnuson Theatre on the Gonzaga campus.
“People stayed through intermission, so I think it went pretty well,” said Gray, Gonzaga’s senior guard who played Tybalt, Romeo’s rival. “Right after intermission is when I was done for the night (Romeo strangles Tybalt). A lot of people came up and said they thought we did a pretty good job, which was nice to hear.”
Sophomore forward Kelly Olynyk, urged by Gray to join the production, had roles as Abraham, Romeo’s friend, and as a watchman near the end of the play.
“When we first started rehearsals, Kelly was in the first scene and the last scene,” said Gray, who had a lead role in the reader’s play “Take Me Out” last year. “By the end he was thrown into numerous scenes because the director, Fr. (Kevin) Connell, enjoyed his presence on stage.”
Olynyk was impressed with Gray’s acting ability.
“When I first went, I didn’t know what to expect,” Olynyk said, “but he was really good, one of the better actors in the whole thing. I don’t know how he does it, but he just flips a switch and turns it on.”
Gray and Olynyk have had a busy fall, squeezing in 2-3 hours nightly on the stage after taking care of their basketball duties. Rehearsals started roughly when school began in early September.
“There were some days I’d have to go from practice to rehearsal to the library to get my homework done,” Gray said. “Looking back, it was definitely worth it. I got to meet a good group of people I otherwise wouldn’t have” met.
Basketball occupies center stage now.
“Steven has a lot of things going on in his life and he likes to spread himself pretty thin,” head coach Mark Few said. “But I’m hoping we can get him exclusively (for) basketball and school here. This team needs him, no doubt about it.”
GU, Texas scrimmage
Gonzaga scrimmaged against Texas in Denver during the weekend. It’s the third straight year the programs have met for a preseason scrimmage. The NCAA frowns on coaches and players discussing the score or statistics, but Few said it was a “positive experience.”
Gonzaga was shorthanded with Gray under the weather and sophomore forward Elias Harris sidelined with a shoulder injury. GU’s inside players, led by Rob Sacre, held their own but the backcourt struggled at times. Texas is ranked 25th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today poll. GU is No. 12 in both major polls.
Unrelated to the scrimmage, Few was asked later about his concerns and what he likes about his team.
“I’m extremely concerned about our guard play, and I have been since Matt Bouldin walked off the floor against Syracuse (in last year’s NCAA tournament),” Few said. “I don’t think it’s a secret our inside guys are pretty effective players.”
Gonzaga is a little short on numbers, so three walk-ons are helping out at practice. One of the newcomers is 6-foot-11 Matt Goode, who originally came to GU as a rower.
“He’s got the most thankless job in the world,” Few said. “He just (gets) beat on by Rob and he has to deal with that, and Rob just brings it every day, every practice.”
Said the 260-pound Sacre: “(Goode) works hard. He has to play a lot of defense in practice. It’s not fun. I’ve been a redshirt before and I give him credit.”
Just to change things up, Gray is wearing No. 41 after years of sporting No. 32. Why 41? “James Posey, my favorite NBA champion,” Gray said. “It’s just a random number nobody wears in the college game at the guard position.” … Harris worked on his shot at a basket on the side while the team practiced. “It’s getting better, but there’s no need to rush it,” Few said. “We know what we get with him.” … Freshman wing Mathis Monninghoff was a spectator at practice after spraining his ankle a few days ago. … Gonzaga entertains Southern Oregon on Friday in an exhibition game.