Effort and rebounding generally go hand in hand.
Lately, the Gonzaga Bulldogs haven’t been getting their hands on as many rebounds as they did earlier this season. Now, it’s hardly a crisis. GU entered last week 20th nationally in rebounding margin at plus-7.5 per game, but San Diego, the 214th best rebounding team statistically, won the boards 38-32 on Saturday night, including 25-14 in the second half.
USD grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the final 15 minutes, leading to 13 of its last 20 points.
“We kind of let our guard down and relaxed sometimes and slipped a bit on the glass,” junior forward Kelly Olynyk said. “In our conference there are a lot of guards that rebound really well so I think that’s something that hurts us a little bit, but also our bigs need to shore up a bunch of that stuff.”
Washington State was the only team to outrebound Gonzaga (32-31) before the Zags opened WCC play in early January. Five of GU’s last nine opponents have won the boards, including four of eight conference foes. Some have been close (Santa Clara and Butler were plus-2). Pepperdine and San Diego were plus-6. Saint Mary’s had a 39-27 rebounding edge.
The Toreros simply outworked Gonzaga at times and were rewarded with a 14-11 edge in second-chance points, 13-4 in the final 20 minutes. Guards Chris Anderson and Johnny Dee combined for 14 rebounds. Four of Dee’s were offensive boards.
“If you’re going to get outworked, it shows up there every time,” coach Mark Few said. “That’s all rebounding is about. It’s not about size or athleticism, but if you can get size and athleticism that plays really hard and pursues every rebound like it’s your last chance to get one, then you have a heck of a rebounding team.”
Few reiterated that this isn’t the most talented team he’s had in 14 seasons as head coach.
“We’ve shown within the league that we have to be ready to go,” he said. “If we’re not a team that plays harder and more attentive and executes defensively and offensively at the highest level then we’re not talented enough or so athletically dominant that we can survive for very long.”
Few was hit with a technical foul midway through the second half of Saturday’s game by lead official Gregory Nixon. It’s believed to be the first technical called on Few since December 2009, when Gonzaga thumped visiting Eastern Washington 94-52. Veteran official Dick Cartmell called Few for the technical long after the outcome had been decided.
Six different Gonzaga players were whistled for technical fouls between the ones on Few.
Saturday’s call came after Gonzaga scored on Gary Bell’s putback basket as players were running back to set up defensively. It appeared Olynyk was fouled on a shot attempt just before Bell’s.
“There was nothing said,” Few said of what prompted the technical. Few did say he wasn’t pleased by the lack of fouls called up to that point of the game.
Gonzaga moved up one spot to No. 6 in the AP and USA Today polls. … Gonzaga and Arizona are planning a two-game, home-and-home series beginning in the 2014-15 season, according to the Arizona Daily Star. “Nonconference scheduling is more competitive and playing good teams doesn’t necessarily hurt you,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller told the paper. “They only help.” In the current AP poll, GU is one point ahead of No. 7 Arizona. … Senior Elias Harris moved past Matt Bouldin into sixth place on GU’s all-time scoring list. Harris has 1,694 points and trails No. 5 Ronny Turiaf by 29. Harris has 883 career rebounds, seven behind No. 3 Cory Violette.