PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Much has been made about the renewal of the Gonzaga-Washington basketball rivalry next season, but details of the four-game set still haven’t been finalized.
The schools haven’t determined if the first game will be played at GU’s McCarthey Athletic Center or Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena. The teams got a head start on the series when the Zags hammered the Huskies 80-64 Wednesday in a Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal.
“No matter what kind of business you’re in, the devil is in the details, and the details are where do you start?” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. “It has to work for both teams.”
The Zags will play in a holiday tournament in Orlando next season. They will visit Tennessee in Nashville in a return game of this year’s Battle in Seattle and they’re tentatively scheduled to face Arizona at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Zags and Wildcats also will play in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
“I have no idea what Washington’s home schedule or road schedule looks like next year,” Roth said. “I know how ours is shaping up and where we need to be able to play a game. This isn’t new. We deal with this every time we start a series with any opponent, figuring out how to balance your schedule and the opponent’s schedule.”
Roth is hopeful it can be worked out but cautioned “until it’s done, signed, it won’t be done. It really comes down to two teams that want the same thing, to start at home.”
Gonzaga’s interior dominance was obvious with Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski combining for 53 points and 26 rebounds.
Put another way: Gonzaga piled up 42 points in the paint (obviously with guards contributing as well), another 30 at the free-throw line and six on a pair of 3-pointers. GU’s lone field goal between the 3-point arc and the lane was Eric McClellan’s baseline jumper with 1 minute remaining.
It goes beyond just scoring in the paint for GU’s bigs. The trio had five assists and numerous passes that led to free-throw opportunities. Few called the three “underrated” passers.
“In essence a lot of our offense runs through them, much like (Kelly) Olynyk and (Elias) Harris and that 2013 crew,” Few said. “Shem is vastly underrated, he’s a terrific passer. He might be our best passer.”
Ear plugs optional
First-half flow was hard to achieve for Gonzaga and Washington as officials, who have been told to clean up physical play and create freedom of movement, called 35 of the game’s 60 fouls. The teams combined for 74 free-throw attempts.
Gonzaga point guard Josh Perkins fouled out after playing just 12 minutes.
“New rules and different refs for every game,” Perkins said. “You have to adjust in every game, and I didn’t in that game.”
Perkins’ absence shifted Kyle Dranginis, Silas Melson and primarily McClellan into ball-handling roles. The Zags finished with 17 turnovers, 11 in the second half.
“I turned the ball over too many times,” McClellan said, “but ‘KD’ and Silas handled the pressure tremendously well. Without those guys the bigs couldn’t have gotten into the groove that they did.”
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