Zags expand options at ‘3’
Studied up a little more on Gonzaga-Saint Mary's today by watching the replay of the first game. Drew Barham and Kyle Dranginis didn't step on the court last month but they figure to be in the mix in Thursday's rematch.
We talked about that and the juggling at the '3' position in general in the lead item to the Gonzaga notebook that will run in Tuesday's S-R.
I visited with Kelly Olynyk about where he stands on returning for his senior year or turning pro. He's not going to make a decision until Gonzaga's season ends. (USA Today checked in with a feature on Olynyk. A New York Times reporter stopped by practice for an upcoming article.)
Also, GU moved up one spot in the AP poll to No. 5 and three spots in the USA Today poll to No. 3.
A couple of notes that didn't make the notebook: Louisville transfer Angel Nunez (concussion) is hoping to be cleared to begin practicing on Feb. 19. Providence transfer Gerard Coleman has been sidelined with a dislocated thumb.
Read on for more.
By Jim Meehan
It’s been a month since Gonzaga held off visiting Saint Mary’s 83-78 and here’s how things can change in that period of time:
Two Bulldogs who didn’t see the court in the first game figure to play a larger role when the WCC rivals collide Thursday in Moraga. Drew Barham and Kyle Dranginis have seen a steady bump in their playing time the last few weeks at the ‘3’ position.
“I think they’ll both definitely play,” coach Mark Few said. “Saint Mary’s likes to play off David (Stockton), Mike (Hart) and Guy (Landry Edi). We’ll see if they choose to play off those guys.”
The Bulldogs have used a variety of options at the ‘3’. Edi started 13 games, but his playing time has dwindled since the Oklahoma State game. Hart has made 10 starts and been a solid rebounder and defender. He’s committed just four turnovers in 380 minutes.
Barham and Dranginis both have started one game. They’ve provided a boost offensively of late.
“I’ve been in here working, getting shots up and staying prepared so when people go zone or they help off the ‘3’ or double our bigs, I’ll be able to come in and give the team a boost,” said Barham, who has hit 9 of 14 3-pointers in Gonzaga’s last five games.
Few went with Barham as the starter for Pepperdine because the Waves tend to play zone and sag off the ‘3’. Few started Hart against Loyola Marymount because he anticipated a physical contest that was “going to be about rebounding and getting in the gaps and playing defense.”
Dranginis has played double-figures minutes in four of the last five games. He’s averaging 5.6 points during that stretch.
“We find out (who is starting) usually the day of the game or the day before,” said Hart, who had six rebounds against LMU. “It doesn’t matter to any of us. We’re all happy contributing anyway we can.”
Hart has demonstrated he can start or come off the bench and provide quality minutes.
“It just shows you the quality of his character,” Few said. “He just wants us to win.”
Olynyk stays focused
Kelly Olynyk is showing up on more mock draft boards, but the junior forward said now isn’t the time to be thinking about the NBA.
“We’re too successful as a team to put that in front of anything,” said Olynyk, who has made 65.2 percent of his shots and is averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. “It’s definitely an after-the-season thing because I’m focused on how far we can take this as a team.”
Olynyk has already earned his accounting degree.
“I started my Master’s this semester and right now we have it mapped out where I’ll finish it by the end of next year if I choose to do so,” he said.
Gonzaga’s coaching staff traditionally assists players pondering an early exit by compiling information from an NBA advisory committee and other league sources.
Zags move up
Even if sophomore guard Kevin Pangos wanted to avoid the hype around the national rankings, he wouldn’t stand a chance. He hears where the Bulldogs are ranked each week from well-intentioned classmates.
“A lot of people around campus were, ‘No. 5, No. 5,’ ” said Pangos, who gets a weekly update from one GU student and this week a few others joined in.
Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0 WCC) moved up one spot to No. 5 in the AP rankings and No. 3 in USA Today’s poll after an upset-filled week. It’s the highest Gonzaga has been ranked since it was No. 4 on Dec. 8, 2008.
The Bulldogs received two AP first-place votes and one from the coaches. GU hasn’t received first-place votes since late in the 2006 regular season.
“I think it means a lot more the second week of February than it does in November,” Few said.
Saint Mary’s (21-4, 10-1) received votes in both polls.