Gonzaga’s season opener is nearly three weeks away but the Bulldogs’ considerable depth is already being put to the test.
The public had their first opportunity to see the men’s basketball team Saturday during GU’s annual Kraziness in the Kennel. The Bulldogs held a 3-point shooting contest, won by Gary Bell Jr.’s 13-of-15 effort in the finals, and then played a 15-minute scrimmage in front of an overflow crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Two players didn’t participate. Senior forward Elias Harris has been slowed for about a week with a groin injury. He went through some warm-up drills, but said “it probably wasn’t the right time to risk anything.”
Junior forward Kelly Olynyk wasn’t at the event as a result of an unresolved issue overseen by Student Life, according to a Gonzaga release. No other details were available. The release noted that GU anticipates the matter will be resolved “in the near future.” Olynyk has been practicing with the team.
“Kelly is going through the same process to which all students are subject when there is a matter under the purview of Student Life, and we support that process,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. “Kelly is cooperating fully.”
Add in freshman center Przemek Karnowski returning from a swollen left (shooting) hand and senior wing Drew Barham wearing protective glasses after suffering a broken nose earlier in the week and the Zags weren’t at full strength for the scrimmage.
They still put on an entertaining show. The Blue team, led by Sam Dower’s 11 points and Bell’s nine, edged the Red 33-31. David Stockton added five points and five assists. Both teams shot well from the field, combined to make 7 of 19 3-pointers and produced 10 fast-break points. Kevin Pangos had 11 points and former Providence wing Gerard Coleman, who will sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules, added nine points and five rebounds for the Red, which played without a sub. Karnowski chipped in six points.
The Blue’s Guy Landry Edi and Barham combined to make 4 of 4 free throws in the final 18 seconds
“We’re still kind of beat up and banged up and we had to play a couple guys out of position, but that’s kind of how we’ve looked all fall,” coach Mark Few said. “Guys shared the ball very well and ran the floor. It gives us a start to work with.”
The 3-point contest was equally entertaining. In the semifinals, Barham defeated Pangos and Bell defeated Kyle Dranginis. Before the final, Barham lobbied to shoot at the east-end basket, but Bell wouldn’t budge.
“That’s the reason he said he won,” Barham said. “He had the home-court side. We always shoot on that side.”
The crowd kept a running count as Bell, who was 2 of 2 on 3s in the scrimmage, buried shot after shot. Bell said it was a belated birthday present for his father, who was in attendance.
“I was a little nervous with all these fans here,” he said, “but once I saw the first one go in it was, ‘OK, it’s just like practice.’”
Gonzaga entertains Northwest Nazarene in an exhibition game Saturday. The Bulldogs open the season against Southern Utah on Nov. 9 at the Kennel.
“I think we need to establish some more toughness and a little nastiness and see how we’re going to be around the basket,” Few said. “Offensively, I’m pretty pleased, transition-wise we’re good and I think our core defense has been decent, thought it’s hard to say when you’re playing against a bunch of guys that can shoot like we have this year.”