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And more GU notes

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I put together a notebook/advance for Wednesday's S-R. The first topic deals with how the GU-Augustana game came about, followed by a couple of other items, including a shorter version of the Elias Harris' note from Monday's post.

Read on for the unedited article.

Meanwhile, Matt Bouldin and Saint Mary's Omar Samhan are co-WCC players of the week.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Gonzaga assistant coach Ray Giacoletti and Augustana head coach Grey Giovanine go way back.

“We became friends in college, working basketball camps,” Giacoletti said. “Both of us wanted to be college basketball coaches. Grey played a huge part when I got my first job as a graduate assistant at Western Illinois in 1985.”

Giovanine’s NCAA Division III Vikings (5-0) take on No. 21 Gonzaga (6-2) at 6 tonight at the McCarthey Athletic Center. It’s a big week for No. 15 Augustana, which faces defending D-III national champion Washington University in St. Louis on Saturday.

Giacoletti and Giovanine served on the same staff at Oral Roberts in 1987. Giacoletti has been head coach at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Utah. Giovanine was head coach at Lamar (1993-99) and he’s in his 11th season at Augustana. Giovanine’s father, ‘Chips’, a legendary prep coach, is in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

“As crazy as the college basketball world is, he’s found a good fit at Augustana and done a great job there,” Giacoletti said. “We talk every other week.”

Augustana has won four conference championships, three from 2006-08, under Giovanine.

Close calls

Five of Gonzaga’s games have been decided by five points or less. Get used to it. Perhaps not tonight, when Gonzaga will be heavily favored, but the Bulldogs figure to be battle-tested when WCC play begins Jan. 9.

“We’re not talented enough offensively to think there’s going to be a lot of blowouts,” head coach Mark Few said. “We need to scratch and claw and play really hard. That’s kind of our calling card. Because of that, I think we’re going to be in a lot of grinders, a lot of close ones. We’ve probably stolen a couple that we shouldn’t have and the two losses we very well could have won those games.”

Nailing the boards

After outrebounding Colorado, Wisconsin and Cincinnati in Maui, Gonzaga has been outboarded in its last two games, decisively on the offensive glass.

“It’s on me for taking the pedal off the medal, but we were kind of beat up and a little bit sore (after Maui),” Few said. “I was hoping this group would be mature enough to say, ‘Hey, we can talk about rebounding and maybe not have to drill it and beat each other up,’ but evidently we need to beat on each other and learn it by experiencing it.”

Another factor has been trying to keep the opposition’s transition game in check, which influenced whether GU sent three or four players to the offensive boards.

“When you’re playing a guard like Ishmael Smith (of Wake Forest) or (Kalin) Lucas from Michigan State, it’s a concern,” Few said. “We just need to go back to rebounding four. I think our guys were caught in no man’s land.”

Upon further review

Forward Elias Harris, ejected for a flagrant technical in Saturday’s loss to Wake Forest, will start tonight.

“It’s unfortunate you can’t factor in intent or knowing the player. I do, so I know there was no malicious intent,” Few said. “Was (Harris’ forearm) too high? Yeah, it was too high. I think his intention was to hit the guy in the chest and it just got too high.

“I’ve coached a lot of kids over the years and it’s unfortunate it happened to Elias because it’s not something he intended to do. If you’re going to get kicked out of a game, you should probably intend to do it – that would be my theory.”


Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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