Banged-up Zags play Dons at Kennel
As coach Mark Few addressed a cluster of media after Saturday’s win, one by one Gonzaga’s top three scorers made the short walk from the locker room to the training room.
It’s been a busy place of late.
Sam Dower Jr. (lower back) didn’t play against Santa Clara. Kevin Pangos (turf toe) was in pain after catching his right foot on a Santa Clara player while trying to fight through a screen. He exited for about 4 minutes but returned to finish off a 17-point effort. Gary Bell Jr., who dealt with a hip pointer earlier this month, was limited to 16 minutes with a swollen right hand.
No. 24 Gonzaga, in the midst of playing four games in a week, doesn’t have much time to mend with San Francisco visiting the McCarthey Athletic Center Monday night. Few said there’s a chance Dower could play but the senior forward “is still really sore.” More should be learned about Bell’s status when he visits a hand specialist today. Pangos has been dealing with his toe injury for nearly a month and hasn’t missed a game.
“You sound the alarm and get everyone on board and let’s go,” said senior guard David Stockton, who scored a career-high 21 points against Santa Clara.
Gonzaga (11-2) received widespread contributions versus the Broncos to win its WCC opener for the 18th straight season. Drew Barham, who replaced Dower in the starting lineup, and Louisville transfer Angel Nunez, who made his Gonzaga debut, combined for 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
“It shows how much they care about this team, playing banged up and getting banged up even more and still getting out there,” sophomore Kyle Dranginis said. “It shows how tough we are as a team that we have guys ready to step up after our starters.”
San Francisco (8-5, 1-0) is familiar with replacing a key player. Point guard Cody Doolin, a senior with 103 career starts, left the team in November after an altercation with a teammate. USF is 6-3 without Doolin, including an 87-81 overtime win against Portland on Saturday.
The Dons, picked fourth in the WCC preseason poll, are shooting 51 percent from the field – they made 60 percent against the Pilots – and average 81.9 points. Six players are averaging at least 9.4 points. Senior forward Cole Dickerson leads the way at 14 points and 7.8 rebounds.
“They spread you out and shoot 3s and try to create mismatches,” Few said. “Same kind of situation as (Santa Clara), a perimeter-oriented attack and try to come at you with small ball.”