PITTSBURGH – Robert Sacre never made it into the Gonzaga locker room.
After he finished a semiformal question-and-answer session in the interview room alongside teammates Kevin Pangos and Elias Harris, Sacre tried to retreat to his locker but was intercepted by about 15 media members outside the door.
Sacre’s matchup with Ohio State standout forward Jared Sullinger was the topic of the day. After hearing the same question perhaps 20 times, Sacre smiled into a TV camera and said, “Everyone’s hyping this up. This is like the ‘Thrilla in Manila.’ ”
That’s debatable, but there’s no doubt Sacre has been an ideal matchup with microphones, digital recorders, cameras and notebooks during his couple of days in Pittsburgh, and the gregarious 7-foot center has been up to the task.
A sample of Sacre-isms:
Asked about GU legend John Stockton’s involvement with the program: “Well, ‘Big J’ as we like to call him, we’ll work out with him in the summer. He’ll give you some pointers here and there. … He’s like Chuck Norris. He can do anything, man.”
Asked if anyone thinks basketball when they think about Ohio State: “You got me. I’m never speechless.”
Asked about his relationship with coach Mark Few: “I like to give him a hard time. Today I tried to set up my own isolation play, top of the key for a 3. That didn’t happen. Coach Few didn’t like it.”
Harris chimes in
Elias Harris is more understated compared to Sacre, but the 6-foot-7 German native entertained a smaller media contingent outside the locker room. Media members, interview room moderators and P.A. announcers have tried various pronunciations of Harris’ first name, but few have correctly said: Uh-LEE-us.
“I’ve heard it all the last three years,” he said. “Some people get it right, some others call me E-LEE-us. It’s just easier to go with ‘E.’ ”
Harris faced a matchup question of his own concerning Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas. Harris praised Thomas for his versatility and ability to score inside and outside, prompting a reporter to ask Harris if he was a tough matchup.
“I wouldn’t say I suck or anything,” Harris cracked. “I hope I’m decent out there and a halfway tough matchup for them.”
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes were No. 3 in the preseason poll and have remained in the AP Top 10 all season. … Ohio State has held 19 of 35 opponents to less than 60 points. … Tournament officials, noting that 100,000 people will be in downtown Pittsburgh for today’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, urged fans to leave early for today’s games and to expect some road closures. … Pro golfer and avid Zags fan Kyle Stanley was on hand for Gonzaga’s win Thursday and plans to return for today’s game against Ohio State.