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Media day Tuesday and the primary topic was the addition of forward Angel Nunez, who transferred roughly a year ago from Louisville.
Naturally, I put together a notebook on Kevin Pangos' toe, Przemek Karnowski's parents, Finals Week and Christmas wishes. You can read it here.
OK, I also checked in with Nunez, who adds to GU's thin frontcourt. He's the subject of my article for Thursday's S-R. I'll probably post it tonight.
The big man has made some big and small steps forward.
Przemek Karnowski is coming off his best game as a Zag — 19 points and 13 rebounds — and seems to be improving on several other fronts. More on PK below, also an update on the health of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. as well as Elias Harris' next move.
The Zags are back at practice, including Przemek Karnowski, who squeezed in a trip home to Poland during the holiday break that required essentially two days of travel . The big man said he was feeling some of the effects of the Spokane-to-Torun, Torun-to-Spokane venture, but was glad to be at home for an early Christmas.
I'll post a GU-Baylor preview later tonight.
It's a bit of a misnomer to say that college basketball teams held their opening practices Friday. NCAA rules now permit summer and pre-Oct.12th individual and team practices, but Friday still was generally recognized as the official lid-lifter to the season.
Gonzaga opened against a backdrop of hype nationally, some of which seems warranted. This is a deep, skilled team with four capable bigs and a strong returning backcourt. However, the players and coaches were cautious about what they've seen in print, heard on talk radio or read on the Internet. That topic opens my notebook that will run In Saturday's S-R that also addresses the hand injury that kept Przemek Karnowski out of most drills and concludes with Ray Giacoletti's ties to Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Come to think of it, I failed to post the S-R article that ran in Friday's S-R. Here's a link.
As mentioned, the Zags went to work minus one rather large individual. It's the first time I've spoken in person to the 7-1, 305-pound Karnowski — though he did recall a few of our email exchanges — and other than interviewing Will Foster and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I can't remember craning my neck quite so much. He comes across as a gentle giant,seems to have a nice grasp of English and, according to his teammates, can flat-out play.
Said senior forward Elias Harris: “He's got a soft touch, can pass extremely well. Sometimes he surprises everybody, even the guards, with his passes. He's going to be a load in the post. You try to front him, but he's so big, so wide and strong, you can't push him out.”
I'll have more on the Zags on Monday.
Przemek Karnowski, the 7-foot-1 Polish center who verbally committed to Gonzaga last week, followed up by signing his letter of intent. He's the likely replacement to Robert Sacre.
His commitment to GU is partly the result of assistant coach Tommy Lloyd's overseas connections and diligence — he's been recruiting Karnowski for two years. Head coach Mark Few joined Lloyd on a trip to Poland. The Zags have signed several European players over the last few years — Elias Harris (Germany), Mathis Monninghoff (Germany), Mathis Keita (France) — but this was believed to be Few's first recruiting trip to the continent.
As it turns out, Illinois State hired Dan Muller (not Ron Judson, as reported by the Pantagraph newspaper on Monday) as its head coach. GU's Ray Giacoletti was one of the finalists.
It's been a day filled with phone calls, e-mails, texts, etc., trying to gather more information on Przemek Karnowski, who committed to Gonzaga on Wednesday. I was fortunate to exchange emails with the 7-foot-1 center from Poland.
Karnowski is the main item in a Gonzaga notebook that will run in Thursday's S-R. GU assistant Ray Giacoletti will interview for the Illinois State job on Thursday and the Zags are working on an agreement to face Kansas State in the Battle in Seattle this winter with the two teams meeting the following season in Kansas City or Wichita.
A couple of additional items on Karnowski. He signed his email Przemyslaw Karnowski. I'm told that Przemek and Przemyslaw is along the lines of, in my case, Jim and James. The 'P' in Przemek is almost silent so it's roughly pronounced — and don't hold me to this! — “Shemick”. He was coached early on by his father, who stands 6-2.
Karnowski is still completing some paperwork, but an official announcement from Gonzaga could come as early as tomorrow. He also has some academic work to finish up, but no problems are anticipated.