Gerard Coleman walked swiftly across the McCarthey Athletic Center basketball court in a Patriots stocking cap, heading toward the locker room to suit up for practice.
This scene played out dozens of times a year ago, though some days Coleman would mix in a Celtics shirt or a Red Sox hat, tributes to his hometown of Boston. There’s a major difference to his routine this fall: The Providence transfer can suit up come game day.
Last year Coleman did all the drills, and then some, all the lifting and then took a seat on the bench as Gonzaga won a school-record 32 games. NCAA rules require transfers to sit for a season, a stern test for college athletes already short on patience.
“This is everything I’ve been waiting for as far as preparing for games,” said Coleman, before a recent practice. “It (sitting out) was hard for me. I played hard in practice, I always play hard, but playing hard with a purpose, I’ve come a long way in that department.”
The wiry, 6-foot-4 Coleman joins a deep guard line with returning starters Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., and dependable backup David Stockton, who averaged 18.7 minutes last year, nearly two more than the graduated Mike Hart, who started at the “3”. Sophomore Kyle Dranginis and senior Drew Barham, who emerged as Hart’s primary backup last season and is capable of playing the 3 or 4, are bidding for extended minutes.
Coleman’s strengths are in transition and slashing to the basket, bringing a “different kind of entity than we’ve had in the past,” coach Mark Few said. “He can really make plays in the open court, it’s definitely his forte. We have to play to his strengths when he’s in there. We’re still working on some other areas of his game to help us out.”
Coleman says he’s working on them, too, dating back to last season.
“Coach ‘Jack’ (former GU assistant Ray Giacoletti) used to work me out before games,” Coleman said. “I used to lift before every practice and get my shots up. My weakness was my outside shot and defense and I think I’ve come a long way with those.”
They don’t play the same position but Coleman’s two-year stats at Providence are comparable to Pangos’ numbers. Coleman averaged 10.3 points as a freshman and 13.2 as a sophomore; Pangos 11.9 and 13.6. Coleman grabbed more rebounds, Pangos had more assists.
“Just a constant ability to run the floor and finish,” Stockton said of Coleman’s game.
“Slasher, driver, he finds ways to get to the rim like nobody I’ve seen,” forward Sam Dower said. “He can push the ball like crazy off a rebound. He can push the ball ahead of the defense.”
Coleman, Dranginis and Barham provide different options at the 3 position.
“I’m just playing hard every day, never giving up,” Coleman said. “I’m just doing what I do best, play defense, score the ball and basically play with a chip on my shoulder because I sat out a whole year.”
‘Kraziness’ arrives Saturday
Fans can get their first look at GU’s team at “Kraziness in the Kennel” on Saturday. Doors to the MAC will open at 3 with the festivities beginning at 4.
The Zags will scrimmage and there will be raffle drawings for GU prizes. One lucky fan will have a chance to win $10,000 with a half-court shot. Players will have an autograph session after the event.
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