Bill Grier spent 16 years as a Gonzaga assistant coach and he helped recruit many of the current Gonzaga Bulldogs before moving on to San Diego two years ago. In his first trip back last year, USD fell behind 15-0 en route to losing 80-70 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Grier is back for round two Saturday, but this time he's not battling his emotions or fielding endless questions about his return to Spokane.
More below in my unedited GU-USD advance.
There’s a different feel to Bill Grier’s second trip to
“Last year it was really emotional,” Grier said. “I had all kinds of emotions coming back and it just felt weird. Now it’s totally different.”
What hasn’t changed is that the Toreros, and everyone else in the West Coast Conference, are still chasing Gonzaga. The 20th-ranked Bulldogs (15-4, 6-0), eight-time defending regular-season champions, are alone in first after defeating No. 22 Saint Mary’s 69-62 on Thursday. Saint Mary’s and
“Saint Mary’s was a good win for us, it was important, but (
“It’s been a struggle, probably offensively more than anything,” Grier said of playing without Brandon Johnson, who was named MVP of the 2008 conference tournament after USD knocked off Gonzaga. “We’ve had some dry spells at the offensive end, but the thing that has kept us in games and helped us win games is the way we’ve been defending – until the last two games.”
The Toreros were handled by Saint Mary’s 65-42 and
“We’ll go from a track meet (against Saint Mary’s) to a possession-by-possession game,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose team is riding a seven-game winning streak. “They’re comfortable playing in the 50s, sometimes even the 40s, and they’ve done a nice job winning those games. We have to prepare ourselves to have quality possessions, play defense like we did in the second half (Thursday) and rebound the ball a little bit better.”
Forward Gyno Pomare (14.5 points, 6.9 rebounds), Trumaine Johnson (12.9 points) and forward Rob Jones (10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds) are
Sophomore guard Matt Dorr, a