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GU roundup

Back with some GU notes with tip-off against Pepperdine less than five hours away.

(Programming note: I've put together a feature on Elias Harris that was supposed to run in Thursday's S-R. Instead, it's been pushed back, possibly until Saturday or even next week. I spoke with Harris, several of his teammates and coaches, San Diego's Billy Grier and Dirk Bauermann, Harris' coach with the German national team. Per usual, I'll post the article the day before it runs.)

Read on.

--Pepperdine has surprised many with its 3-0 WCC start. The Waves had moments in the non-conference, knocking off Utah, but generally struggled, falling to NAIA Cal Baptist. The Bulldogs are 24.5-point favorites. (I was unsuccessful in attempts to connect with Waves coach Tom Asbury earlier this week).

“They’ve been making shots,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They’re making 10 3s a game in league, which is a lot, and also with combination of man and zone (defenses) they’ve been able to hold other teams’ field-goal percentage down. They rank right up on top with the league leaders (defensively). That’s a pretty good combo if you’re making shots and stopping guys at the other end.”

--Much of the line of questioning of Few and the players centered on GU not looking past Pepperdine and LMU, Saturday’s opponent, after the Bulldogs opened WCC play with three straight road wins over teams considered to be their primary competition.

“I think we feel really good, but I don’t think we’re satisfied by any stretch,” Few said. “With what’s been put in front of us, they’ve handled it with a passing grade. Like anything, it’s how you move forward. You can’t be satisfied, patting yourself on the back, which I’m sure they’re getting around here a lot. We have to turn around and get ready for a team that’s tied with us for first in the conference. That’s the reality of the situation.”

Said center Rob Sacre: “We don’t want to underestimate anyone in our league because that’s how losses happen. We have to be fired up going into every game, (play) like we’re down. They keep making the ‘Beat the Zags’ t-shirts (at opposing venues), so we have to keep playing.”

--Gonzaga has only played at home once since Dec. 9th (EWU on Dec. 28). The Bulldogs did play in front or pro-GU crowds in Seattle on Dec. 12 and at the Arena on Dec. 31.

“It feels very good to be at home for at least a week before we have to go on the road again,” forward Elias Harris said. “It’s nice to be on the road and see different cities, but Spokane is Spokane, its our home city, home town and home crowd.”

Said Few: “We got home in time for a birthday for one of the kids, that was huge. It’s just nice to get home. We’ve been hitting it pretty hard.”

--I had to ask Sacre about his matchup last week with Saint Mary’s Omar Samhan, who poured in 31 points after a slow start. You’ll recall a couple weeks ago Sacre said Samhan, an accomplished talker on the court, had a ‘halo’ around his head and not ‘horns’ as portrayed in the media.

The two had a brief exchange after Sacre blocked and fouled Sacre on a breakaway attempt, knocking the Gaels center into the basketball support.

“I have no problem with him,” Sacre said. “When it comes to that play I wasn’t trying to take him out. I tried to block the shot and I didn’t want to give him an easy basket, that’s how I viewed it.”

Sacre said Samhan has improved over the past few seasons.

“He’s a very tough player,” said Sacre, who had eight points and six boards in GU’s 89-82 win. “He’s really made his game as a low-post player and really gotten a lot better. It’s a challenge down there, but we came out with a win and that’s all that matters.”


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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