Gonzaga junior forward Guy Landry Edi obviously played basketball in high school, but he also caught the eye of coaches in other sports.
“I played a little football, too, and the coaches wanted me to try track,” Edi said. “The timing wasn’t quite right to do it.”
Edi went into sprinter’s mode for a pair of highlight-reel plays during Saturday’s 77-60 win over San Diego that were more impressive for what happened in the first 75 feet than his finishes at the rim. He punctuated the transition baskets in style, one with a step-around move that led to a layup and the other with a dunk. Both were made possible through sheer hustle.
On the first, Kevin Pangos grabbed a rebound in the lane with Edi on the wing, not quite free-throw line extended. Edi reacted quickly and took off down the right sideline. Pangos took one dribble and hit Edi in stride for a one-handed dunk. The 6-foot-6 forward passed three Toreros and was perhaps four feet clear when he caught the pass. The play occurred about 5 minutes into the game so fatigue shouldn’t have been an issue with either team.
“He was actually level (with the defense), but he was out nice and wide so I could see him and lead him, like a quarterback throwing the ball,” Pangos said. “He’s athletic, he has speed and he takes it to the rim strong. He gets out wide so the angle is easy to get it to him.”
The second came after USD’s Darian Norris drove for a layup. Edi peeled off his man to play help defense so he was essentially at the baseline when Elias Harris grabbed the ball out of the net. Harris inbounded the ball to Pangos, who again took one dribble and fed Edi, who had sprinted past seven of the eight players ahead of him. Edi side-stepped the only defender in his path and scored on a layup.
“We’ve been pleading and asking the wings to get out ahead because I’m always on those point guards to throw the ball ahead,” coach Mark Few said. “A lot of times you watch the film and the wings aren’t that much in front. Guy can finish at the end of those breaks.”
Neither of those plays was the most memorable for Few. He pointed to Edi keeping a rebound alive that led to Robert Sacre’s basket while being fouled.
“Play of the game,” Few said. “We were only up four at the time.”
Edi sat out the first eight games due to an NCAA suspension. He’s slowly earning more playing time. He had a career-high 15 points in Thursday’s win over San Francisco and backed it up with eight points and four rebounds versus San Diego in his first start.
“I know all the plays now. When you know the plays you don’t have to think about it, it just comes naturally and it makes it easier to feel comfortable,” Edi said. “Starting is a good feeling to come out in front of the crowd. It’s nice, but you want to finish games more than start.”
For the only time during the WCC season, Gonzaga will have just one game this week – at Portland on Thursday – and it comes at an opportune time. Prior to BYU joining the WCC, Gonzaga had two single-game weeks with travel partner Portland but typically played at least one out-of-conference power the same week.
“We’ve been going pretty hard since finals,” Few said.
Few strives to find a balance between physical practices and keeping players fresh.
“I’m adjusting all the time and the older I get the more I rein them in,” Few said. “Mondays are now a lot of shooting, movement and not a lot of hitting. I felt last week we were starting to get tired. I try to watch the team and pace ourselves according to them.”