Gonzaga freshman forward Ryan Spangler was doing one the things he does best – rebounding – but an ill-timed collision left him with a broken pinkie finger on his left hand.
Spangler, who was injured during practice Monday, had surgery Tuesday afternoon.
“Elias (Harris) was going up for a rebound, I tried to block it and my finger got caught on the ball,” Spangler said. “I messed up the joint so they’re going to put a couple pins in.”
Spangler is expected to miss 2-3 weeks, but he has his own take on the recovery.
“They said three weeks,” he said, “but I’ll make myself be back quicker than that.”
The 6-foot-8, 232-pounder from Blanchard, Okla., has played in 13 of 17 games. He’s averaging 6.9 minutes, 2.2 rebounds and shooting 56 percent (14 of 25) from the field. He’s the fourth ‘big’ in the rotation behind Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Sam Dower.
“He’s been a little banged up and wasn’t moving great so he can use this time to rest up and get his legs back and hopefully he can help us down the stretch,” head coach Mark Few said. “It’s just hard playing four bigs consistent minutes with as many competitive games as we’ve had.”
Mike Hart, who starts at the ‘3’ (small forward), and Guy Landry Edi could help out at the ‘4,’ Few said.
“Mike has done it in the past,” he said. “They’re a little undersized, but both of them are tough enough to guard in the post.”
For the first time in more than a month, a span of six home games, Gonzaga will have the Kennel Club back in full force when San Francisco visits Thursday. GU played in front of sellout crowds while going 6-0 with the students on winter break, but the atmosphere wasn’t quite the same inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the fans on break at all,” freshman guard Kevin Pangos said. “They brought energy and it was still pretty loud in here, but the student section is like no other.”
Sacre’s statistics didn’t make a huge jump, but he was more effective in Saturday’s win over Loyola Marymount than in Thursday’s loss to Saint Mary’s.
Sacre, who has scored in double figures just three times in the last 10 games after averaging 16.4 points in the first seven, had eight points, six rebounds and two blocks against LMU. He was limited to four points and three boards by the Gaels.
Few chatted with Sacre following Thursday’s game.
“He was very active (vs. LMU),” Few said. “For whatever reason he kind of lost his way the last two weeks. We just want him getting back down there and engaging people in the post.”
Sacre got the message.
“He told me if I’m more aggressive it’ll help the team out, even if I’m not getting the ball,” Sacre said.
Three for three
Gonzaga has lost three games, with all three opponents cracking the Top 25 after wins over the Bulldogs. Michigan State and Illinois entered the rankings following seven-point wins over Gonzaga last month. Saint Mary’s, which thumped Gonzaga 83-62 last week, entered this week’s Associated Press poll at No. 24 and the ESPN/USA Today rankings at No. 23.
GU was ranked in the preseason and in the first four regular-season polls. The Zags slipped out of the rankings after falling to Illinois on Dec. 3 and returned to the AP Top 25 after a New Year’s Eve road win over Xavier before dropping out again this week.