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It was media day Tuesday, which means a Gonzaga notebook for Wednesday's S-R.
Senior wing Byron Wesley has been an ideal fit at Gonzaga, helping the Zags compile a 28-1 record. By comparison, his three seasons at USC resulted in a 31-65 record. Wesley will join Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos for Senior Night ceremonies Saturday against BYU. I also revisited the topic of court-storming with Zags coach Mark Few and updated the health of Angel Nunez and Eric McClellan.
Here's a link to my notebook.
Junior forward Kyle Wiltjer is on SI's regional cover with an accompanying feature (for subscribers).
Lots of boxing analogies tossed around after Gonzaga's see-it-to-believe-it 70-60 win over Saint Mary's last night. Indeed, the two best teams in the WCC threw haymakers all night with GU landing the final blows in a game-deciding 12-0 run that left most of an overflow crowd of 3,500 in stunned silence.
Also, coming soon to a wall near Gonzaga's locker room: David Stockton's picture in his No. 9 Kings uniform. He made his NBA debut last night and his picture will join ex-Zags who have played in the NBA. Read to the last line of this link.
Read on for my day-after post.
Gonzaga rallied once, twice and then scored the game's last 12 points to take down Saint Mary's 70-60 on Saturday night, spoiling the Gaels' Senior Night for the second straight season.
My unedited game story is below. Day-after post in the A.M.
Busy day in the Bay yesterday.
As you probably know, David Stockton signed a 10-day contract with Sacramento on Thursday. I'm not smart enough to calculate the odds of Stockton being called up by the Kings and the Kings playing at home while I was on a Bay Area road trip between GU games, but I'm pretty sure they're LOONNNGGGG. So I placed a call to the Kings, who graciously came through with a credential.
Had about a 10-minute post-game chat with Stockton, who didn't play in Sacramento's win. Still, quite impressive for the 5-foot-11 guard who was a preferred walk-on initially at GU to be on an NBA roster less than a year after his Zags' career ended. Here's my Stockton article.
In-game twitter updates tonight @srjimm.
Temporarily renamed the day-after post to acknowledge Kyle Wiltjer's point-fest last night.
More below on GU (but mostly Wiltjer) below in my day-after post.
Kyle Wiltjer had a night to remember, scoring 45 points to lead Gonzaga past Pacific 86-74 on Thursday.
Much more on Wiltjer and GU's 20th straight win in my unedited game story below.
Gary Bell Jr.'s career is winding down and the senior from Kent, Wash., reflected on his four years earlier this week.
Every morning I wade through my email and there is usually a handful of Gonzaga-related articles. That number tends to grow in February and March, when the Zags find their way into national discussions debating whether they're for real or not, whether they're built for an NCAA tournament run or not, whether they can maintain a competitive edge during the WCC season or not.
And, much like 2013, whether they're worthy of being a No. 1 seed or not. At this point, GU seems safe on the top line if it wins out (four regular-season games, three WCC tournament games). I checked with a few members of the national media for their opinions in this week's Zag notebook.
—Angel Nunez won his NCAA appeal, returning a lost season of eligibility from his time at Louisville in 2013 (concussion, mid-season transfer to GU). So Nunez will be a senior next season, but the Zags' frontcourt (Karnowski, Sabonis, Wiltjer and Ryan Edwards coming off redshirt year) again figures to be loaded if everybody returns. Nunez has averaged 7.7 minutes in 21 appearances.
—There's also a note on Kyle Wiltjer's latest trick-shot, a full-court toss that found the net on his first attempt. You can find it on twitter at @kwiltj.
Wiltjer's development since transferring from Kentucky is the subject of this Grantland article.
Gonzaga has played 14 WCC games and only three have been closer than 11 points. Two of those have been against Pepperdine, the latest a plodding 56-48 GU win Saturday.
Gonzaga ran its winning streak to 19 with a hard-fought 56-48 win over Pepperdine.
My unedited game story is below. Day-after post in the a.m.
Yup, a little slow-starting this morning, much like Loyola Marymount last night at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
More below in my day-after post.
Byron Wesley, a graduate transfer from USC, has made a seamless transition in his lone season at Gonzaga. The 6-foot-4 Wesley averages 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He’s third on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounding and second in assists. He left USC in hopes of finding a winning program that plays in the NCAA Tournament and he appears to have found both at Gonzaga.
But there’s more to Wesley than basketball. The senior wing talks jobs, music, cooking and, of course, Harry Potter.
I've seen about 45 minutes of Gonzaga practice at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season, thanks to a change in the media day schedule from pre- to post-practice. But I've heard about Monday sessions.
Like the Seattle Seahawks' "Competition Wednesdays" the Zags go at it, best vs. best instead of best vs. scout team. On certain weeks, it might represent the toughest competition GU encounters. That was topic for this week's Zag notebook, along with an update on Mark Few's coaching tree.
Like the Zags, I managed to get through last night’s so-late-I-missed-Saturday-Night-Live game that finished after 10:30.
Gonzaga was tested twice on this road trip, trailing Santa Clara by six early in the second half and USF by a bucket on several occasions in the second half. It was tied at 55 Saturday when Kevin Pangos buried a key 3-pointer – seems like I’ve written that same sentence a few times the last four years – and Kyle Wiltjer followed with two more 3s.
That run gave GU a 10-point lead, but USF quickly cut it to 68-65 with 4:06 left. It was 73-68 with 1:39 left when Matt Glover was whistled for a deadball technical foul. I didn’t see what happened (from my vantage point it was a struggle just to hear the P.A. announcer) but several folks texted/tweeted that Glover tossed Pangos to the ground.
Read on for my day-after post.
For one of the rare times this season, Gonzaga found itself in a close game in the closing minutes. The Zags, other than a few anxious moments against San Francisco's full-court pressure, executed down the stretch and pulled away for an 81-70 victory.
Kyle Wiltjer, who left the game for a few minutes in the second half after getting hit just below the belt, returned and immediately buried two 3-pointers en route to 29 points.
My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for a day-after post.
Gonzaga’s single-game record for field-goal percentage was in jeopardy against Santa Clara. And so was the outcome of the game.
Yup, that sounds odd. When the Zags stopped turning the ball over and found their defense, they pulled away from the stubborn Broncos 77-63 for their 16th straight victory.
Read on for my day-after post.
Just another wild night at the Leavey Center.
It seems to be an annual occurrence when the Zags come to Santa Clara. Thursday was no different as GU led big early in the first half, fell behind — despite shooting at a 72-percent clip — before pulling away for a 77-63 victory.
My unedited game story is below. Day after post coming in the morning.
The comparisons were bound to come, what with the teams' similar records, similar rankings, similar domination of the WCC, and, to some degree, similar makeup.
How does No. 2 Gonzaga (22-1) stack up with the 2013 team that reached No. 1 and finished 32-3? Better in many statistical categories, worse in a few.
Much more here.
I've got plans from 3-7 today so we'll get the day-after Memphis post out of the way early.
It's a pretty common theme: GU's bigs were too much for the opponent, combining for 45 points and 24 boards in an 82-64 win over Memphis.
More below in my unedited game story. Day-after post coming in the morning.
Game day for Gonzaga and Memphis.
It's one of the bigger games remaining in the regular season for GU in that Memphis carries an RPI of 79, trailing only Saint Mary's 53 and BYU's 61 of the Zags' upcoming opponents. Memphis is experiencing a down season but a GU win would still count as a nice addition to the Zags' non-conference victories. A loss would put a dent in GU's chase of a No. 1 seed.
It's perhaps the biggest game remaining for Memphis, which dug an early hole this season and needs an upset win to enhance its NCAA credentials. This is the last scheduled meeting for GU and Memphis, who are tangling for the eighth time since 2006. Memphis is 6-1 in those meetings.
Day-after Portland post below.
Gonzaga reached the halfway point of the WCC season following a 91-60 rout of Pacific last night. The Zags are 9-0, one game in front of Saint Mary’s.
More from last night’s game in my day-after post below
Gonzaga dominated at both ends of the court in a 91-60 victory over Pacific on Saturday.
Read on for my unedited game story is below. Day-after post coming in the a.m.
Gonzaga returns to action against visiting Pacific tonight. Here's a quick look at the game.
Onward for my day-after Saint Mary’s post.
Gonzaga routed its closest WCC pursuer by 21 points Thursday.
The 68-47 victory over visiting Saint Mary's leaves GU (19-1, 8-0 WCC) alone in first place. The Gaels (15-4, 7-1) dropped into second. The 47 points matched their season low (a 53-47 loss to St. John's).
The Zags led by as many as 25 during a dominating second-half performance. Kevin Pangos led the way with 14 points, Przemek Karnowski added 12 and Kyle Wiltjer 11.
Unedited game story below. Day-after post coming in the morning.
Dove into the field of analytics and how it relates to Gonzaga's program. Fascinating stuff, as Kevin Pangos says, in the article.
According to the numbers, Gonzaga is in the top 1 percent in overall offense, trailing only Notre Dame. John Jakus, who studies the numbers for Gonzaga and was gracious enough to show me the ropes, said one of the main reasons is Notre Dame using the 3-point line more than GU and the stats tend to favor 3-point shooting squads.
Opponents play zone against GU 15 percent of the time, man 85 percent. Gonzaga ranks in the top 1 percent against both defenses. There's no shortage of interesting stats and numbers.
Here's my article on how Gonzaga incorporates analytics. Here's a glance at tonight's GU-Saint Mary's game and a preview from the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's an article on the impact of transfers on the Gaels' program.
Media day today and I've got notes on the GU-Saint Mary's game and rivalry in general, as well as an update on Eric McClellan (foot) and Josh Perkins (jaw). In short, it sounds like McClellan is getting closer to his debut (guessing if not this week, then next) but Perkins remains on hold from practice.
Side note: One of my daughters had surgery which required the surgeon to essentially break her jaw and shave off a portion of the bone and reset her jaw line for alignment purposes. It was eight weeks before she was allowed to participate in her sport to protect her jaw from contact. She wasn't permitted to run for several weeks because of potential damage from the jarring motion of running. Have no idea how comparable her situation was to Perkins', but the 8-week time frame from surgery could be a fair guideline.
Morning. Football coming up, but some basketball business to attend to first.
Read on for my day-after LMU post.