Day after Portland
Another Senior Day is over (more on that below) and now Gonzaga sits and waits for the polls to be released Monday to see if the Zags have a No. 1 by their name for the first time in school history. Most think it'll happen, but final word won't come until Monday morning.
Read on for more.
—Gonzaga pretty much has this Senior Day celebration down pat.
Prior to the game, the seniors are announced and join family members on the court. The crowd goes wild.
The game is played and the Zags win comfortably. The six senior games I've covered: Portland 81-52, Longwood 92-60, CS Bakersfield 96-49, CS Bakersfield 78-59, USC Upstate 90-40 and Santa Clara 88-54.
In all but one of those last six years, the Zags celebrate with the WCC championship trophy (2012 was the exception).
Coach Mark Few addresses the crowd post-game (he implored fans to savor moments such as Senior Day during this special season). Then the microphone goes to the seniors, who never fail to provide a blend of insight (Mike Hart pointing to the Kennel Club section he sat in as a spectator five years ago watching the team); and emotion (Hart with a lump in his throat as he started to talk about his family); and humor (Guy Landry Edi opening his remarks with a long, 'Wwwoooooooo”); and appreciation (Elias Harris: “It's been a tremendous ride, I love all you guys.”)
Throw in a few bad dances by the players at center court and the customary snipping of the net and another Senior Day goes in the books.
—A larger-than-usual media throng posed questions about the potential No. 1 ranking in a variety of ways. GU players have Sunday and Monday off and Few will be working one of his favorite fishing streams Monday.
The best of Few’s numerous comments on the rankings: “C’mon, it’d be pretty cool for Gonzaga to be ranked No. 1. My first year here we won four D-I games.”
—Edi flashed a huge smile when asked if he enjoyed Senior Day. His senior season hasn’t gone as planned, but he’s demonstrated a team-first attitude.
“Elias and Mike, everyone knows what they bring to the table and they’re great guys, too,” said Edi, who went out of his way to mention senior manager Colin, who was introduced along with the senior players. “He makes sure we have everything before games and after games. All those (managers) are working hard. I’m happy to go out with those guys.”
—A TV crew from Olynyk’s hometown of Kamloops was on hand to interview the 7-foot junior forward. Topics ranged from his dad, who coached Kelly when he was younger and is currently an A.D., to his long hair.
Olynyk patiently explained for the umpteenth time that he didn’t go home for Christmas last year so he didn’t get his hair cut. He’s never had his hair cut in the U.S.
“I had a couple of roommates that were really into soccer and got me into soccer,’ Olynyk said. “I looked at Sergio Ramos’ hair and it had that euro-band and that flow, I kind of liked it and wanted to try it out. Once it got to that level, I kind of liked it.”
The reactions from fans? “Some people love it, some hate it. Some people say, ‘cut it,’ some people say, ‘long hair don’t care.’ Opposing fans really bash it. I don’t really mind.
“I get, ‘cut your hair, get a haircut.’ I’ve heard ‘WNBA’ before. The list really goes on. It’s cool, it’s funny.”
—Olynyk appeared particularly amped up before the game. He said it was because the team wanted to make sure they took care of business for the three seniors.
“They’ve done so much all year, their whole careers, it was huge for them to get that kind of recognition,” Olynyk said. “I’m happy for them and what we’ve accomplished. We’re not done yet.”
STATS OF NOTE
—Gonzaga led 46-27 at halftime lead. In eight WCC games at home, GU’s smallest halftime lead was 11 points against LMU.
—Gonzaga committed a season-low five turnovers. The Zags’ 20 assists equaled their third-highest total of the season.
—Olynyk had his second career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
—All 13 Zags played and 12 scored. Walk-on Rem Bakamus made his ninth appearance and Brian Bhaskar his fourth.
—Fastbreak points: GU 15, Portland 0.
Harris: “I felt like people deserved to see me go out with a bang. I gathered all the energy left in the tank and went out and got it done.”
Few, on Senior Day: “I worried about Ronny (Turiaf in 2005). I wasn’t worried about this group at all.”
Few, on playing with target on chest: “As far as we’re concerned we have played under that all year. We are going to go down to Vegas trying to win the thing. We’re going to into the NCAA Tournament trying to win the thing. I don’t think we’re too caught up with what number we are at or what we’re seeded. We’re just going to go play.”