Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 76° Cloudy

SportsLink

More on Portland, Foster

Cincinnati’s Steve Toyloy has his shot blocked by GU’s Will Foster in the first half of title game.  (Associated Press)
Cincinnati’s Steve Toyloy has his shot blocked by GU’s Will Foster in the first half of title game. (Associated Press)

Tomorrow's Four Corners page in the S-R will have a quick look at Portland, a couple of GU notes and a feature on reserve center Will Foster (No. 45). There's also news that Matt Bouldin is a finalist for Lowe's Senior CLASS award. More on that here.

Read on for much more.

First, here's a brief look at Portland, which visits Gonzaga tomorrow night:

GONZAGA BULLDOGS

RECORD: 17-4, 6-1

COMING UP: Thursday vs. Portland, 8 p.m.; Saturday at Memphis, 1 p.m.

OUTLOOK: The Pilots (14-7, 5-2) have won four straight, by margins of 40, 16, 16 and 22, since falling to Saint Mary’s 77-72 in Moraga. Gonzaga went 3-1 against the same four teams with wins by 7, 16 and 7. Portland has held its last four opponents to 34.8-percent shooting. The Pilots lead the WCC in scoring defense (yielding 60.7 points in conference games). Gonzaga led nearly the entire way, often by 9-13 points, in the first meeting Jan. 9 before weathering a late Pilots rally. Matt Bouldin scored 20 points, Elias Harris added 18 and Kelly Olynyk and Bol Kong combined for 25 points off the bench. Robin Smeulders’ 24 points paced Portland, which committed just four turnovers. Point guard T.J. Campbell had 12 assists and no turnovers.

 

Here's two short items that will run in a notebook tomorrow: 

Coaches vs. Cancer

Tonight’s Gonzaga-Portland game is part of Mark and Marcy Few’s continuing Coaches vs. Cancer efforts. Few and his GU assistant coaches will wear white polo shirts that read ‘BELiEVE’; Portland’s coaching staff will wear purple polos with the same ‘BELiEVE’ inscription.

 

Sarah Michaelson, wife of Bulldogs administrative assistant Brian Michaelson, developed the BELiEVE concept and she’s working with Coaches-vs.-Cancer organizers with the goal of having as many people as possible wear BELiEVE T-shirts at tonight’s game. Sarah’s parents are both fighting cancer.

 

BELiEVE T-shirts cost $10 and can be purchased at Kimmel, U District Physical Therapy and Institute of Sports Performance and on-line at www.cvctee.com. They’ll also be available at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

 

 

Raivio out

Portland senior guard Nik Raivio, younger brother of ex-Zag Derek Raivio, will miss tonight’s game with a strained right Achilles tendon. The injury has sidelined Raivio, who leads the team at 14.1 points per game and is third in rebounding at 6.1, the last four games.

Jared Stohl replaced Raivio in the starting lineup and he’s averaging 18.5 points over the last four games. In the Pilots’ win over Santa Clara, Stohl made four 3-pointers, giving him a school-record 212 in his career. Stohl scored 18 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting against Gonzaga on Jan. 9.

A

nd here's my unedited article on senior Will Foster:

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Gonzaga’s Will Foster is big and blunt.

Ask the 7-foot-5, 270-pound reserve center a question and his response comes unfiltered. He speaks openly about intense growing pains as a youngster, his three-plus years of minimal playing time and the several times he had his bags packed, ready to transfer to another school.

In one sentence he’ll tell you, “It’s been kind of a plagued four years here.” A few minutes later he’ll insist, “I’m going to look back (at his career) and be content with it.”

Foster has been more of a factor this season than the previous three. He’s played in 17 of 21 games (he was suspended for one game for leaving the court in an inappropriate manner against Pepperdine two weeks ago). He’s logged 102 minutes. He played 97 minutes combined in his first two years and a career-high 163 last season, additional time coming when Rob Sacre was sidelined with foot injury after just six games.

“What I want most out of Will is to be a great team guy and to kind of relish his role, which is to get in there, be a great interior defender, protect the rim and be a good rebounder,” coach Mark Few said. “In a lot of instances he has helped us. It’s a game-to-game, situation-to-situation thing (determining when Foster plays). I’m sure that can sometimes be frustrating but that’s how it is when you’re in that role.”

Foster was 6-feet tall in the sixth grade and 7-feet by his sophomore year at White River High School in Buckley, Wash. As a youngster, he recalls having growing pains so severe that he couldn’t take part in the egg hunt one Easter. He’s sprouted nearly two inches since arriving at GU and he experienced growing pains last week.

After dabbling in baseball, basketball and briefly with wrestling, Foster turned out for hoops as a freshman at Enumclaw. He was practically glued to the bench on the C-team. Foster’s mom and step-dad relocated to Bonney Lake the following year and he immediately connected with White River’s coach.

Foster played varsity as a junior and averaged 17.5 points and 14 rebounds as a senior. White River attended Gonzaga’s summer camp, where Foster caught the attention of Gonzaga’s staff. He was receiving interest from UC Santa Barbara, Utah, Army, Navy and some Ivy League schools.

“I didn’t really think about where I wanted to go and when Gonzaga offered, I accepted it on the spot,” he said. “I called my parents and they weren’t too happy about the choice.”

Foster said the plan was for him to redshirt as a 235-pound freshman, but that changed during the season. He devoured three protein shakes a day and gained 25 pounds during his freshman season, highlighted by a solid, 5-minute contribution against San Diego in the WCC tournament semifinals. He was then slotted to redshirt as sophomore, but that changed when Josh Heytvelt was injured. After appearing in just 14 of GU’s 33 games that season, Foster essentially made up his mind to transfer.

“I actually knew where I was going, my AAU coach was ready to pounce on it, my parents were all for it, all my friends, I was just ready to go,” he said. “And I looked at it and I didn’t feel like leaving (girl friend) Lauren (Ames, a goalie on GU’s soccer team). She’s been my rock.”

There were other reasons. His best friend from high school attends nearby Eastern Washington. Regarding basketball, he said, “I’m not a big fan of watching, I’m more a fan of playing and it’s been hard to deal with that. But I’m not a person to quit and walk away. I wanted to stay and try to prove others wrong.”

Foster understands his court time depends on the other team’s lineup. Smaller, quicker teams aren’t favorable matchups.

As a junior, he had two points, four rebounds and a blocked shot as Gonzaga rallied from a 15-point deficit to knock off Tennessee in Knoxville. Foster has made one basket in each of his last five game appearances. His 10 blocked shots this season are tied for second on the team. His dribble drive from the top of the key last Saturday against San Francisco caught nearly everybody in War Memorial Gym off guard.

“I think my teammates were a little more surprised (than USF) because they didn’t think I’d pull that out in a game,” said Foster, who drew a foul on the play, but missed both free throws. “They pretty much know my limitations and that’s not in my jurisdiction.”

Foster said he might try to play professionally overseas next season. With his senior season winding down, he was asked if he has regrets about his GU career.

“Good question,” Foster said. “I’m not going to look back and regret it. I had fun, made some friends and definitely made a lot of memories.”

 

 



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.

Follow Jim online:






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.