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Gonzaga has added another key transfer. Vanderbilt's Eric McClellan announced Sunday that he'll transfer to Gonzaga after he finishes up three classes this summer. Byron Wesley, a three-year standout at USC, announced last month that he'll join the Zags for the upcoming season.
McClellan will likely be eligible for the second half of the 2014-15 season, but he hopes to obtain a waiver that allows him to be eligible immediately.
I spoke with McClellan for about 10 minutes after finishing up Ironman Coeur d'Alene duties and put together the article below for Monday's S-R.
Read on for an unedited version.
Luke Meikle, who rarely saw the court as a freshman, won't return for his sophomore season. Gonzaga announced on Tuesday that Meikle has been granted his release to pursue other opportunities.
The 6-9, 203-pound forward from Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep logged just 60 minutes in 15 appearances. It wasn't immediately known what schools Meikle is considering. If he transfers to a Division I school, he'll have to sit out next season under NCAA rules.
Gonzaga landed another key addition to its promising 2014-15 roster. USC transfer Byron Wesley announced Sunday he'll join the Zags.
My unedited article is below.
A couple of things that didn't make the article. Wesley was scheduled to visit Pitt on Friday, but decided to reschedule because that was the same day as USC's graduation ceremonies.
“I talked with my family and we decided this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (to walk) and we felt it was the best thing for me,” said Wesley. “It was nothing against Pitt. Then once I decided Gonzaga was the place for me, I decided not to visit Pitt.”
Wesley said coach Mark Few and assistant Donny Daniels visited his home in Southern California. Wesley was joined by his parents when he visited Gonzaga last weekend.
“They were really impressed,” Wesley said. “They know the pedigree of Gonzaga basketball and the history and things they've done in the past. My dad is a big basketball fan and really pays attention to all that stuff.”
Gerard Coleman, a Providence transfer who played last season at Gonzaga, is transferring elsewhere for his senior season, Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. Click here for our story.
From Pullman — Football practice meant that I couldn't get this blog post up until now, but earlier I tweeted the news that Washington State will play Gonzaga in Spokane for the second straight year next season as part of a three-year contract. The terms of the contract say that Gonzaga will host WSU the first year (this past season), the teams will play a “neutral site” game at Spokane Arena in the second year (next season) with a game in Pullman during the third and final year.
It's likely that the schools will split the revenue from next year's game but I haven't been able to confirm that. I should have more tomorrow.
Domantas Sabonis, the 17-year-old son of former Portland Trail Blazer center Arvydas Sabonis, has signed with Gonzaga. Article here.
It's a big get for the Zags, who bolstered their frontcourt and added a highly skilled forward to go with Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer and Angel Nunez. As GU's release indicates, Ryan Edwards has told coaches he plans on redshirting next season.
The word that came to mind watching Sabonis on this highlight tape is smooth. He has polished moves and scores in a variety of ways. He's probably similar to Wiltjer in many ways, minus the 3-point accuracy at this point. Sabonis moves well and should only get bigger and stronger as he ages. He speaks fluent English (Spanish, too).
Numerous tweeters have asked if he'll play right away. My guess is he'll see a lot of playing time.
The college basketball season ended last night with UConn winning the national title over Kentucky. Gonzaga's season ended March 23rd with an 84-61 loss to Arizona.
I took a look back and look ahead for the Zags, who will be under the expectation spotlight again next season with a strong group of returning players joined by Kyle Wiltjer, who sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. Here's my article that ran in today's S-R.
GU is No. 15 in one of those way-too-early rankings for next season.
About the only question in the closing minutes was whether Gonzaga would suffer its worst NCAA tournament loss. They didn't, but it hardly eased their pain as the Bulldogs were crushed by Arizona 84-61 Sunday at Viejas Arena.
GU's 87-63 loss to Maryland in 1995 — the school's first NCAA trip — remains its most lopsided. This one wasn't close as Gonzaga couldn't handle with Arizona's pressure defense and coughed up 21 turnovers, leading to 31 Wildcats' points.
Przemek Karnowski had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Pangos played through a sprained ankle to make four 3s and finish with 12 points. But the Bulldogs made just 41 percent of their shots and scored only 27 points in the second half.
Gonzaga, back in its familiar role as NCAA tournament underdog, takes on No.-1-seeded Arizona tonight in San Diego.
The Zags have pulled more than their share of tourney upsets — No. 7 Minnesota, No. 2 Stanford, No. 6 Florida in 1999, No. 7 Louisville and No. 2 St. John's in 2000, to name several — but they've never knocked off a No. 1. They're 0-5.
They've come close twice, falling to No. 1 UConn 67-62 in 1999, 77-62 to Michigan State in 2001, 96-95 in double OT to Arizona in 2003, 99-78 to North Carolina in 2009 and 87-65 to Syracuse in 2010.
Here's our coverage: My game preview, my notebook and look back at the memorable 2003 contest, and John Blanchette's column on a couple of 7-footers. A capsule look at the teams and keys to victory below.
In-game updates on twitter tonight @srjimm.
Good evening from San Diego. Gonzaga defeated Oklahoma State 85-77, behind Kevin Pangos' 26 points, Gary Bell Jr.'s 17 and Przemek Karnowski's 15.
Good evening from San Diego. Gonzaga and Oklahoma State go about their business in different ways and that contrast of styles will be on display when they collide Friday in a round-of-64 game at Viejas Arena.
Lastly, we have a capsule look at GU and OSU below.
We took a look back through the S-R archives at the brief Gonzaga-Oklahoma State series. They've played five times since 2004 in five different venues in five different cities. Gonzaga has won all five.
Press conferences this afternoon. Back later with more.
Gonzaga was coming off a stinging 0-2 road trip last month that sounded warning signs, particularly with another two-game road trip coming up, followed by the neutral-site WCC Tournament and wherever the NCAA road took them, if the Zags were fortunate enough to make the big dance.
The Bulldogs gathered prior to practice for, as Sam Dower Jr. put it, “a man to man” talk. The Zags have won five games since that meeting and seem to have become a more hardened squad that deals better with adversity.
More on the meeting and the aftermath here.
Gonzaga has faced its share of adversity this season: injuries, come-from-ahead losses, tough road trips. Nearly every team goes through it.
Oklahoma State, GU's opponent Friday in the NCAA tournament, experienced the extremes of college basketball's four-and-a-half month grind. More on OSU's season here.
Eighth-seeded Gonzaga will open the NCAA Tournament against No. 9 Oklahoma State on Friday in San Diego.
Here's my article on the matchup that will run in Monday's S-R.
I checked in with Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge at the WCC Tournament for this update on Kelly Olynyk that ran in Sunday's S-R.
I cut-and-paste a capsule look at GU-OSU below.
Below that, I cut-and-paste my game story from Gonzaga's 69-68 win over OSU last New Year's Eve.
Gonzaga took all the guesswork – other than seeding, opponent and location — out of Selection Sunday by winning the WCC Tournament title over BYU on Tuesday. Had the Zags lost, most pundits still had them in the NCAA field as an at-large team but it would have been an uncomfortable few days waiting for Sunday’s announcement. (I’m guessing an 8 or 9 seed, I’m pulling for a trip to San Diego).
GU did it with a near flawless first half, leading by as many as 21 before settling for a 17-point edge at the break. The cushion helped the Zags withstand BYU’s second-half rally for a 75-64 victory.
Here’s my game story, John Blanchette’s column and Colin Mulvany’s photos. The view from Utah here, here, here, here and here. The Zags doubled up on championships as Gonzaga's women thumped BYU. My game story here and Colin's photos.
Onward for my day-after BYU post.
As junior guard Gary Bell Jr. put it afterward, “No more bubble talk.”
Gonzaga secured the WCC Tournament title with a 75-64 victory over BYU on Tuesday, earning its 16th straight NCAA Tournament berth. Sam Dower, with 20 points and 13 boards, was named MVP. David Stockton had seven assists, five rebounds, four points and three steals to join Dower, BYU's Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth and USF's Cole Dickerson on the All-Tournament team.
My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for my day-after post.
Gonzaga rode its defense to another WCC title.
The Bulldogs limited BYU to 14 first-half points and cruised to a 71-57 victory Tuesday in the championship game at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Keani Albanez led the way with 20 points, Sunny Greinacher added 16 and Lindsay Sherbert had 15.
My unedited game story is below.
Another busy day ahead in Las Vegas with the Gonzaga men and women playing for titles at Orleans Arena — GU-BYU women at 1, GU-BYU men at 6 — so we'll move on to our day-after Saint Mary's post.
It'll be shorter than usual. Heading to the arena soon and Gonzaga players had exited the locker room by the time the Bulldogs' press conference ended.
GU roughed up the Gaels again Monday night, 70-54, to advance to the championship game. Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column, Colin Mulvany's photos (many of these pictures show the physical nature of the contest), and recaps in the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times.
BYU's men went cold for the last 6 minutes of regulation but managed to advance to the title game by edging San Francisco in overtime. More on that game here, here, here and here. BYU's women pulled away in the second half against Pacific.
Gonzaga took apart Saint Mary's for the third time this season, the latest a 70-54 rout Monday that sends the Bulldogs into the WCC Tournament title game for the 17th straight year.
GU beat the Gaels by 21, 28 and 16 in three meetings.
David Stockton, building a strong case for MVP through two games, equaled his career high with 21 points. GU (27-6) will face No. 2 BYU or No. 3 San Francisco in Tuesday's title game.
My unedited game story is below.
Haiden Palmer scored 16 points, Lindsay Sherbert had 14 in the first half and Shelby Cheslek added 11 points and 14 rebounds Gonzaga defeated Saint Mary's 68-60 on Monday.
The victory moves the top-seeded Bulldogs (28-4) into Tuesday's championship game against No. 2 BYU, a 77-64 winner over No. 3 Pacific.
The brackets for the men and women at the WCC tournaments look similar, at least from Gonzaga's perspective. The top four seeds in both tourneys advanced to the semifinals.
That means No. 1 Gonzaga will take on No. 4 Saint Mary's twice today. The women collide at noon, the men at 6. No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Pacific tangle at 2 in the second women's semifinal. No. 2 BYU and No. 3 USF meet in the men's late-night semi.
Back with a day-after post from Gonzaga's 77-75 survive-and-advance special over No. 9 Santa Clara.
David Stockton hit the game-winner, a mad dash down the lane finished off by a right-handed layup from the left side of the rim. Sam Dower Jr. provided the foundation for the victory with 23 points, including a 15-of-15 night at the free-throw line.
Here's my game story and John Blanchette's column. Here's a game story from the San Francisco Chronicle and another on Saint Mary's win over Pepperdine. GU takes on the Gaels on Monday in the semifinals.
David Stockton's twisting layup with 1.4 seconds left lifted Gonzaga past Santa Clara 77-75 at the WCC Tournament on Saturday. The victory sends GU (26-6) into a semifinal matchup Monday at 6 against No. 4 Saint Mary's, which defeated No. 5 Pepperdine late Saturday night.
The Bulldogs trailed most of the game before catching the Broncos in the final 5 minutes. Sam Dower Jr. made 15 of 15 free throws and scored 23 points. Przemek Karnowski added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Santa Clara's Jared Brownridge put on a shooting clinic in the first half, using his quick-trigger release to score 18 of his 24 points. His jumper tied it at 75 before Stockton's game-winner.
My unedited game story is below.
Gonzaga's top-seeded women withstood a spirited effort from No. 8 San Francisco, posting a 81-68 victory that moves the Bulldogs into Monday's semifinals against No. 4 Saint Mary's, which rallied from 17 down to edge No. 5 San Diego.
Four men's games today at Orleans Arena, beginning with No. 6 San Diego vs.. No. 3 San Francisco (upset alert) at noon. Gonzaga takes on Santa Clara at 6 — updates on twitter @SRjimm.
The top-seeded Gonzaga men's basketball team will face No. 9 Santa Clara in the quarterfinals Saturday at 6 at Orleans Arena.
The Broncos (14-18) thumped No. 8 Pacific 81-64 late Thursday night. Guards Jared Brownridge (20 points), Evan Roquemore (17) and Brandon Clark (15) led the way with a combined 52 points. Gonzaga swept Santa Clara during the regular season, winning 54-52 on Sam Dower Jr.'s 3-pointer in the closing seconds in Santa Clara and 74-60 in Spokane.
The No. 1-seeded GU women will take on San Francisco on Friday at 6 p.m. The eighth-seeded Dons (12-18) upended No. 9 Loyola Marymount 63-62 on Thursday on Taj Winston's layup with one second remaining. Gonzaga swept USF during the regular season.
I believe it was Bill Murray who best described post-season basketball: “OK, I guess we're playing for keeps now.”
OK, I might be taking his line a tad out of context, but it's too late to type another intro. Gonzaga's men and women — I take on double duty at the WCC tournaments — move into their respective tournaments as the top seeds, awaiting Thursday's outcomes before learning their first-round assignments. Gonzaga's women open Friday, the men Saturday.
Kevin Pangos and Sam Dower Jr. made the All-WCC first-team but regular-season champion Gonzaga was blanked on the four major individual awards. Przemek Karnowski was honorable mention.
Here's my article.
Gonzaga's best chances individually were Mark Few for coach of the year and Karnowski for defensive player of the year. WCC coaches opted for San Francisco's Rex Walters for the coaching honor over Few, who kept GU on track despite injuries to its top three scorers early in the conference season. Walters guided USF to a tie for second place (the Dons were picked fourth in the preseason poll), but his methods have been called into question in a Contra Costa Times article.
Karnowski anchored a defense that ranked first in WCC play in scoring defense (61.6). Lane led the WCC in blocked shots. The Waves rank sixth in scoring defense (72.8).
“He’s a real problem solver when you can put him in there and not require any help,” Few said of Karnowski. “He's protected the rim as good as we've had in a long time. Our guards turned a lot of guys loose at the rim and he was able to master staying vertical and affecting shots by the guards. And through long sections of the league he stayed out of foul trouble.”
Coming off an 0-2 road trip, there was concern in Zagland earlier this week. Gonzaga faced the prospect of dropping four straight, failing to win the WCC outright, losing the No. 1 seed in the WCC Tournament and drifting onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.
GU erased those concerns with an impressive road trip, thumping Pacific 70-53 on Thursday and Saint Mary’s 75-47 on Saturday. The Zags will enter the postseason with a two-game winning streak. They won the conference by two games over BYU and San Francisco. They’ll be the top seed in Las Vegas. They appear to have distanced themselves from the NCAA bubble.
Here’s my game story that ran in Sunday’s S-R, and others by A.P., San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times. In case you missed it, former San Francisco players and assistants are questioning Rex Walters’ coaching tactics.
Read on for my day-after Saint Mary’s post.
Didn't see that coming. Doubt Saint Mary's did either.
Gonzaga blasted the Gaels 75-47 on Saturday to wrap up the regular season. The victory no doubt boosted GU's NCAA Tournament resume if the Zags don't win next week's WCC Tournament.
My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for a day-after post.