Zags get ready for physical matchup
Gonzaga coach Mark Few has a pretty good idea of what his team is up against with Colorado State Monday night, even if he doesn’t have a complete handle on the Rams’ personnel.
Few knows Larry Eustachy-coached teams are built on defense and rebounding. Eustachy, head coach at Idaho from 1990-93, guided the Rams to a program-best 26-9 record in his first season and the school’s first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 1954. CSU went 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, losing to eventual national champion Louisville.
“Very tough, great rebounding team and we just don’t have a lot of time to prepare,” said Few, whose team is coming off a 100-76 season-opening win over Bryant two days ago. “We have to do some stuff (Sunday) and get our helmets and shoulder pads on, it’s going to be a physical game.”
Colorado State is replacing all five starters, including center Colton Iverson, who played with former Zag Kelly Olynyk on the Boston Celtics’ summer league team. Iverson is playing professionally in Turkey. The Rams return just 20.4 percent of the scoring and 25.2 percent of the rebounding from last year’s squad.
CSU rallied from 10 points down with 4 minutes left to defeat Division II Regis 70-69 in an exhibition game. The Rams routed D-II University of Colorado-Colorado Springs 99-70 on Friday. Junior guard Daniel Bejarano, a transfer from Arizona, had 17 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. He was the Mountain West Conference sixth man of the year last season.
Junior forward J.J. Avila, who transferred after two productive seasons at Navy, had 15 points and six assists. He scored 25 points versus Regis. Jon Octeus, a 6-4 junior guard, added 12 points and five assists, and 6-10, 200-pound forward Marcus Holt had 14 points and five rebounds. Bejarano and Octeus both saw extended playing time last season.
“Their games haven’t been on television, so it’s hard to get any film on the new guys or if they’re doing anything different,” Few said.
The Rams have played in two straight NCAA tournaments. They were picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West preseason poll.