February 27, 2012 in Sports

Sacre, Carter will be center of Gonzaga’s Senior Night

By The Spokesman-Review
 
File photo

Gonzaga seniors Robert Sacre, left, and Marquise Carter, right, shown in last year’s WCC tournament, will be honored tonight.
(Full-size photo)

WCC tournaments

The Gonzaga men’s team, seeded second, will play the remaining team among BYU, San Diego and Pepperdine in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

The Gonzaga women’s team, seeded first, will play the remaining team among Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount in the semifinals at noon Saturday at Orleans Arena.

Robert Sacre will be in the middle of a story and out come the blank stares.

“I’ll be talking to the younger guys about some of the older guys I played with and they have no clue,” Sacre said. “I’m like, ‘My goodness, I’m old.’ ”

Old enough to count Abdullahi Kuso, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and Ira Brown as teammates when he arrived in 2007. Sacre exits five seasons later – he redshirted in 2009 when a stress fracture in his foot limited him to five games – surrounded by one of Gonzaga’s youngest squads, including true freshmen starting guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos.

Sacre and Marquise Carter will share the stage on Senior Night as Gonzaga (23-5) closes the regular season against Longwood (10-19) tonight at 6 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Sacre expects to have a large contingent on hand, starting with “my Spokane residents.” He’ll have family from Canada and Louisiana, including a couple of special guests. Sacre maintains that his outgoing personality is modeled after his grandpa Gervis.

“Gervis is coming,” a beaming Sacre said. “And my aunt who has only flown twice – she came in for my graduation and now this. And she’s only seen like two inches of snow so this is going to be even better.”

The 7-foot Sacre has averaged double-figure points each of the last three seasons and his rebounding numbers have crept up from 5.4 as a sophomore to 6.5 this season. He’s second in career blocks and third in made free throws.

“He’s going to be a Spokane icon, if he isn’t already,” coach Mark Few said. “He’s just a huge, huge entity in this program’s history. That’s a strong statement, and I mean it.”

Sacre called his five years “pretty awesome.”

“I wouldn’t trade any of my teammates – sometimes we might not see eye to eye on things – but I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world,” he said. “The biggest thing I’m going to miss is (ex-Zag and current administrative assistant) Alex Hernandez. He’s been my mentor, he’s been my battery. When things get rough, he’s always been there for me.”

Carter has experienced a bumpy senior season. The 6-4 guard emerged in the last month of the 2011 regular season, helping Gonzaga rally to share the WCC title and earning MVP honors as the Bulldogs won the conference tournament. He was named the conference Newcomer of the Year.

The junior college transfer opened this season with 17 points against Eastern Washington and he had 10 against Hawaii in the third game. In the seventh game, Bell replaced Carter in the starting lineup against Michigan State.

“Two completely different years,” Carter said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way and you have to roll with it. Senior Night will be an opportunity to go out and have fun with Rob and the rest of my team.”

Carter struggled with his shooting accuracy early, and his assists-to-turnovers have gone from 72-39 last year to 49-42 this season.

“It’s a mystery and we all have to step back and look at the entirety of last year and not just the one month,” Few said. “He’s really shown a lot of character. I know it hasn’t gone the way he wanted but he’s been a great teammate and he’s hung with it. We’re all hoping maybe down the stretch there will be some good, positive plays that happen.”

Carter is from San Diego and he had about 15 friends and family members in the crowd for the USD game Saturday. His father and possibly his cousin will attend tonight’s game. Carter said he’s tried to keep working hard despite diminished playing time.

“I can say that I’m still battling,” Carter said. “I just cheer them on when I’m not in the game and when I am in the game I try to do everything I can to help us win. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I’m going to continue doing.”


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