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Gonzaga Basketball

Like old times with Olynyk

Tue., Feb. 18, 2014

Kelly Olynyk was in town for Gonzaga Senior Night last Saturday to watch the Zags beat Loyola at McCarthey Athletic Center. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Kelly Olynyk was in town for Gonzaga Senior Night last Saturday to watch the Zags beat Loyola at McCarthey Athletic Center. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Ex-Zags star spends the weekend with his friends

It wasn’t quite like old times when Kelly Olynyk showed up as a surprise guest for Gonzaga’s Senior Night on Saturday.

Shortly after he was announced, Olynyk took off his sweatshirt to reveal his No. 13 Gonzaga uniform jersey, but he watched the game from the front row with his parents and spent a few minutes in the Kennel Club as Gonzaga defeated Loyola Marymount.

What happened over the next few days probably seemed more like old times. Olynyk, with a short break over NBA All-Star weekend, stayed in town, rejoining classmates and former roommates Sam Dower Jr. and David Stockton at their house. Olynyk was expected to join his Boston Celtics teammates Monday evening in Phoenix for Wednesday’s game against the Suns.

“He lived in the house last year and the year before,” Stockton said. “It’s like when a sibling returns from someplace, the family dynamic isn’t the same until everyone is there. It was really cool to have him back.”

What was on the agenda, aside from some late-night basketball?

“We basically did everything we used to do,” Stockton said. “Go to Taco Bell, sushi, things Kelly likes to do. Play some video games that are almost out of date.”

Olynyk surprised his teammates when he arrived for Saturday’s shoot-around.

“I was like shaking before the game, not nervous but so excited to be back, especially for these guys and these seniors that I’ve been through so much with,” Olynyk said. “This place is special. Put all that together and it was a real good evening.”

Olynyk was in New Orleans on Friday night playing in the Rising Stars Challenge. He had three steals and scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.

“I basically didn’t sleep. I got a ride to the airport at 5:30, took a 6:30 flight,” he said. “It was a real quick turnaround but something I felt was still part of me and something I had to do for these guys.”

The 7-footer from British Columbia is averaging 6.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He’s made 43 percent of his shots, 29 percent on 3s, and 80.6 percent at the free-throw line.

Olynyk has had a nice stretch recently with two straight double-doubles. He scored in double figures in three of the last four games for the Celtics (19-35), who are fourth in the Atlantic Division.

“It’s been a rollercoaster up and down but it’s been real fun,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the second half of the season, working hard and making this team better as we go forward.”

Polls and awards

Gonzaga (23-4) returned to the AP poll at No. 25 following wins over Pepperdine and LMU. The Zags jumped up two spots to No. 22 in the USA Today rankings.

• Junior guard Kevin Pangos is one of 23 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award. It’s the second straight season Pangos has been a finalist for the award, presented to college basketball’s top point guard.

Pangos is averaging 15.2 points, 4 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He’s currently 21st on Gonzaga’s all-time list with 1,275 points, 66 from passing John Stockton for No. 20.

Popular shot

The McCarthey Athletic Center went crazy when walk-on senior Brian Bhaskar nailed a 3-pointer Saturday in the closing seconds.

Bhaskar received roughly 60 text messages and his twitter feed blew up. The Monterey, Calif., native said he doesn’t have many twitter followers but he picked up a bunch more after the game.

He said he met a lot of new people, who approached him when he was walking around campus with his parents.

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