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Wednesday, January 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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GU gets started

I've been stationed at my computer in the bowels of McCarthey Athletic Center for about an hour after the first media opportunity of the young season. I can hear the squeaking of shoes and coaches barking out instructions out on the court, so GU's first practice rolls on.

Meanwhile, here's our first-day practice story that will run in Saturday's paper. The unedited version is below.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Instead of handing out name tags, Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few surveyed the court and helped a visitor at practice identify several of the newcomers that dominate the team’s roster.

The process took a minute or two.

“We’ve never had this situation where our newcomers or inexperienced guys far outnumber our experienced guys,” said Few, just before the team’s first practice Friday at the McCarthey Athletic Center. “That’s why we have to move real slowly this preseason. I like the new guys, I really like them. I think they have a chance to be really good, whether that’s in 2012 or later in 2010 I don’t know. But they all bring something to the table that can help us.”

It’ll take time for the newcomers, headed by the six members of the recruiting class, to get up to speed.

“We’re going to start slow and hopefully build up,” Few said. “Coaches need to be patient, players need to be patient and hopefully the fans will be patient.”

The Zags will lean heavily on a handful of returners, especially early. Jeremy Pargo was the vocal leader last season, but he was one of five seniors to graduate. Add in Austin Daye’s early exit for the NBA and Gonzaga must replace a lot of talent, points, rebounds, experience and leadership.

Senior guard Matt Bouldin is expected to assume the leadership role.

“This year’s team is going to need me a lot more as a leader,” said Bouldin, GU’s second-leading scorer at 13.6 ppg last season. “It’s easy when you have a bunch of seniors like last year. I was a leader, but there were a bunch of others as well. This year there will be much more of a demand and I think Rob (Sacre) and Steven (Gray) are really going to play a big leadership role.”

It’s an important job, Few said.

“Matt’s been around the most, he was our best player last year, so this needs to be his team,” Few said. “His stamp will be different than Pargo’s, which was different than Derek’s (Raivio), which was different than Adam’s (Morrison) or Blake’s (Stepp). It needs to be assertive and every night because if it isn’t and he or Steven have a bad night, we’re going to struggle.”

Sacre, who missed most of last year with a foot injury, trained with ex-Zag Casey Calvary most of the summer.

“I helped Casey lose some weight,” Sacre joked. “We worked out almost every day. We pushed each other. He was a great part of my development this summer.”

Of the newcomers, forward Elias Harris, who played on Germany’s national team this summer, has caught Few’s eye. He’s also impressed with forwards Sam Dower and Kelly Olynyk.

“Elias has played a lot against good competition,” Few said. “He just got done playing against Pau Gasol and he even guarded (ex-Zag) Ronny (Turiaf) some. He’s very athletic, explosive.

“Sam and Kelly are going to be good. It’s just going to take some time.”

Gonzaga opens with a Nov. 2 exhibition game against Alberta, followed by a home date with Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 14. GU visits Michigan State, which lost to North Carolina in NCAA title game last season, on Nov. 17.

 




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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