The Zags' injury list continues to grow, as does the list of players who have stepped up to replace the walking wounded.
Drew Barham led Gonzaga with 15 points and nine boards and Gerard Coleman chipped in 10 points in a 69-41 rout of San Francisco on Monday night.
More below in my day-after post.
--Bell (hand) and Sam Dower Jr. (back) looked sharp on the bench in their dress clothes – two ties in a row for Dower, borrowed Jim Tressel’s sweater vest; Bell sporting a bow tie – but the Bulldogs would much rather see them in their customary No. 5 and No. 35 jerseys.
Dower said he still hasn’t been able to do much on the basketball court. He’s feeling better each day and expects to return soon. Whether that’s in time for Thursday’s showdown with Saint Mary’s will depend on how much he progresses over the next couple of days. He said he hopes to play (Side note: virtually every injured player I’ve ever interviewed says they plan on playing!).
Bell broke the fourth metacarpal bone (next to the pinky finger) in his shooting hand against Santa Clara.
“It’s small, like a hairline fracture. I shouldn’t be out that long,” Bell said. “I’m not thinking it should take four weeks. I think maybe one or two, hopefully.”
--Meanwhile, Kevin Pangos (turf toe) soldiers on despite a painful right big toe. He had a setback Saturday versus Santa Clara. Pangos wasn’t wearing “the contraption,” a brace/pad that protects his toe. He was taped up, feeling much better and one wrong step later “it was just pain, re-aggravated,” Pangos said. “Stage 1 again.”
That’s not good news. He’ll probably be dealing with some level of pain and limitation of his agility the rest of the season. He’s adjusted his game accordingly and produced point totals of 15, 18, 10, 14, 17 and 10 in games since the injury.
--Przemek Karnowski’s stats weren’t overwhelming – 11 points, eight boards, two blocks, two assists – but Monday was one of his most complete efforts as a Zag. He finished from close range, passed extremely well, collected rebounds at both ends of the floor and he was a defensive force that directly influenced Cole Dickerson’s 2-of-7 shooting and Kruize Pinkins’ 0-of-10 shooting. USF scored just 12 points in the paint.
The Karnowski did a nice job guarding the talented Dickerson, who often drew a quick double team when he caught the ball. Karnowski stayed in front of the senior forward and forced him to shoot over his outstretched 7-1 frame. Same with Pinkins, who rebounded well but threw up several wild shots in the paint when contested by Karnowski.
“He’s doing a great job,” coach Mark Few said, “as good as any big we’ve had (about staying vertical) maybe since Ronny (Turiaf), as far as understanding, blocking shots and he’s rebounding at a high level.”
Karnowski, who misfired on several close-range shots Thursday against Santa Clara and vs. South Alabama at the Battle in Seattle, again demonstrated the soft touch on his jump hook against the Dons.
“He has that in him,” Few said.
STATS OF NOTE
--Barham’s nine rebounds equaled his career high.
--David Stockton is climbing Gonzaga’s all-time steals and assists lists. He has 337 career assists, three away from passing Steven Gray for seventh. Matt Santangelo ranks first with 668 (John Stockton is fourth with 554).
Stockton has 138 steals, two from surpassing Geoff Goss for seventh. John Stockton is No. 1 with 262.
--GU has 19 steals in its last two games.
--The Zags were 11 of 20 at the FT line (55%).
Bell on GU’s performance: “Everybody played well, everybody played confident and aggressive. That’s all we want.”
Stockton on the Zags’ depth: “When they step up and give us great minutes and great energy off the bench it makes us a deeper team. It makes us better.”
USF coach Rex Walters on Dickerson: “Karnowski’s (size) did bother him and they did a good job doubling him. He just didn’t have a good game. Gonzaga had a lot to do with that. It wasn’t just Cole having an off night.”
Few: “I thought we were terrific. We could have felt sorry for ourselves and played the victim role, but we came out and played great. We played with energy, we played together, we played tough, we played very smart, intelligent basketball and it was fun to watch.”
Barham on Nunez: “He’s been great. He’s come in and brought energy as soon as he steps on the court. He’s getting big-time blocks and changing the momentum of the game and he’s doing exactly what he needs to do.”