PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Quentin Hall sat courtside for a few minutes during Friday’s Gonzaga-Connecticut game in the Battle 4 Atlantis and his first thought was his last game as a Bulldog.
“We played UConn, too, in 1999,” Hall said with his recognizable grin.
We remember. Nobody with even a hint of Zag history will ever forget. The Elite Eight showdown, the 5-foot-8 senior guard barking at Huskies’ All-American Khalid El-Amin and bugging another All-American, Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton, at the defensive end.
It was the last dance of Gonzaga’s wildest NCAA tournament ride, the one that ended with UConn’s 67-62 victory in Phoenix but launched a run that shows no signs of stopping.
Hall scored 18 points in his final game, including 13 of 15 in one memorable second-half stretch.
“I had a whole lot of fun,” said Hall, who played two years at North Idaho College before transferring to GU. “Memories that will last.”
Hall flew to Orlando several years ago to watch the Zags in the Old Spice Classic. He stays in touch with assistant coaches Tommy Lloyd and Brian Michaelson. He catches games when GU is on TV.
“It’s a thrill to be here,” said Hall, a Bahamas native who flew from the nearby island of Freeport, where he teaches P.E. and chases around his three boys, ages 6, 4 and 1. “I was talking to Matt (Santangelo, former teammate now on the GU radio network). I saw some of my old coaches (Mark Few, Lloyd) and their wives. Their kids are getting so big.
“I wish I could watch a home game and see how much it’s really changed.”
Hall had 10 points and four rebounds in a first-round win over seventh-seeded Minnesota and 14 points and eight boards in a victory over No. 2 Stanford. He chipped in seven points and four assists as GU edged Florida. A local newspaper ranked Hall’s performance No. 1 by a Bahamian in tournament history, ahead of Rick Fox with North Carolina and Magnum Rolle of LSU.
Hall played professionally in Europe for seven years before returning to the Bahamas. He dabbles in coaching, but “my boys, that’s the team I’m really coaching.”
He had a final thought after watching Gonzaga cruise to a 43-27 halftime lead that proved prophetic as the Zags hung on for a 73-70 win:
“They played really good, pretty impressive I must say,” Hall said, “but I know one thing. UConn isn’t going to stop.”
The new rules emphasis to clean up physical play and promote freedom of movement showed up in the form of repeated whistles in certain tournament games. Several Zags, including Josh Perkins and Domantas Sabonis, spent extended time on the bench due to foul trouble. More time than Sabonis should have, Coach Mark Few suggested.
Sabonis fouled out in 18 minutes in Thursday’s loss to Texas A&M and picked up four fouls against UConn.
“We don’t want to temper how aggressive and active and the type of energy he plays with but (missing time) affects us greatly,” Few said. “He’s one of the better players in college basketball.
“It’s getting very frustrating trying to explain to him on some of these fouls he’s picking up, not so much Friday but Thursday, he’s basically ducking in legally and asking for the ball. And they’re kind of blowing up and flopping. Again, we’re supposed to be protecting the offense, not rewarding the defense.”