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Day after Wisconsin, day of Cincinnati

Last day of the Maui Invitational and Gonzaga has made it to the championship game for the second straight time. GU lost to UConn in the 2005 title game.

Read on for more.

LINKS on GU-Wisconsin: S-R gamer, Maui Times, gamer and notes, ,

LINKS on Cincinnati-Maryland: Maui Times, Cincinnati Enquirer,  

The GU-Wisconsin game looked quite a bit like Gonzaga's wins over Maryland and Tennessee en route to last year's Old Spice title in Orlando. That is, GU was good at both ends of the court, on the glass, in transition, balanced scoring, solid guard play, solid play from the forwards/posts.

--Few was asked if he’s surprised at Gonzaga’s progress through five games with a fairly inexperienced crew.

“Yes and no,” he said. “Rob is young, but if you would have watched how hard he worked coming back from his injury. Almost always when you put the time in like he has and some of our great players at Gonzaga, the game is going to reward you.

“Some of the other guys, obviously ‘E’ (Elias) we knew when we signed him, he wasn’t your typical freshman. He’s played in some high level tournaments for the German national team. I think we’re a little surprised how quickly he’s picked up everything. That’s probably what I’m most surprised about. We’ve been able to execute some things with a new group. There been some practices that I don’t know if any of us would have believed they’d pick it up this quickly.”

--The bench’s effort wasn’t statistically eye-catching, but the reserves did contribute. Bol Kong gave the Bulldogs a nice offensive lift in the first half. Shortly after he entered, Kong made a 3-pointer to give Gonzaga the lead for good, 17-14. He added a layup on a nice assist from Matt Bouldin to hike GU’s lead to 34-25.

Kelly Olynyk was in foul trouble from roughly the second he stepped on the court, but he still managed four rebounds and two points in 12 minutes. He also poked away a Wisconsin entry pass, something GU did effectively 2-3 times in the contest. Grant Gibbs was in for five minutes, with a memorable play in which he grabbed a rebound while falling, made the outlet pass while on his wallet, leading to a fast break bucket.

Will Foster checked in late in the first half and his 7-5 frame altered a couple of Wisconsin shots.

--Interesting sequence to open the second half. Wisconsin’s Keaton Nankivil missed a dunk – his third in two games – and GU’s Elias Harris made a dunk at the other end.

--Wisconsin was in the bonus with 11:41 left in the second half, not that it mattered much. The Badgers had only seven free throws attempts in the second half.

--Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was disappointed his team couldn’t connect on some perimeter jumpers to tighten the deficit in the second half. The Badgers were 1 of 13 from long distance in the final 20 minutes.

“Have you played? Wouldn’t you like to have some of those wide open 3s we had?” Ryan responded to a reporter’s question. “I was shocked. We got some very good looks at 3s. If we hit a couple of those, then it gets really interesting.”


On to Cincinnati: The Bearcats path’ to the title game has been more impressive than GU’s if A.P. rankings mean anything (early on, the rankings, especially the 15-25 in the Top 25, are difficult to gauge.). They’ve pounded Vandy and Maryland on the boards by a combined 35. GU has defeated Colorado, picked last in the Big 12 preseason poll, and Wisconsin, picked seventh in the Big 10 preseason poll.

“They are an absolute beast on the glass, they are going to work on people on the glass. That has to be the first thing we address,” Few said of the Bearcats. “Hopefully we still have some bang in us, some blocking out and some hitting left to do. I don’t think Rob ever tires of that. And we need to be able to score against their half-court defense.”

That’s been impressive, too. Vanderbilt shot 27.5 percent against Cincy, Maryland just 35.8. Both teams made frequent trips to the foul line against the physical Bearcats.

--Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said he’s been extremely pleased with how his players have bought in at the defensive end. He added that the Bearcats, who have used a 10-man rotation in the first two games, tend to get better as the game goes along.

“Most teams do not have our depth,” he said.

Nor do most teams possess Cincinnati’s athleticism. The Bearcats are relentless rebounders with six players averaging at least 3.5. Yancy Gates leads the way with 9 per game.

--Gates, a 6-9, 260-pounder, has 33 points and 23 rebounds in two Maui games. Lance Stephenson, a 2009 McDonald’s High-School All-American, has 19 points and 13 boards. Senior guard Deonta Vaughn is averaging 12 points in the tournament.

“These past two games have been magnificent,” said Vaughn, who has been through some ups and downs at UC.

Cincinnati was 11-19 in 2007, 13-19 in 2008 and 18-14 last year.

--The Bearcats are averaging 74.2 points per game, despite making just 44.1 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and 66.2 percent from the foul line. But 68 offensive rebounds in four games tends to make up for some errant shooting.



Ryan on GU’s inside presence and 42-18 edge in points in the paint: “They were getting it to the rim, getting angles on us, and our help on dribble penetration wasn’t as good as (Monday). We just didn’t shut off the rim as well as we have.”

Few reiterated that he considers Goodson the “best on-ball defender” he’s seen in his 20 years at Gonzaga.

Few on winning with a short turnaround from Monday’s game: “I was extremely happy with the short preparation how much these guys bought in.”

Yates on his improvement from his freshman season: “I’m just trying to be aggressive. I’m in better shape than last year. Last year was tough coming in as a freshman. In high school, you don’t do the weight-lifting and working out. I came in more experienced and knowing what to expect.”

Bouldin on two late post-up plays that resulted in four points: “It just so happened to come to me. Obviously I like getting the ball in those situations, but really it’s just getting good shots.”



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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