Trey Gross’ off-again, on-again relationship with Eastern Washington’s men’s basketball program is off again, and this time it might remain that way.
Gross, a 6-foot-2 sophomore and backup shooting guard from Stockton, Calif., did not return to campus following Christmas break and neither Eagles coach Kirk Earlywine nor any of his players have found out why.
“He won’t return any calls, and neither will his parents,” Earlywine said of Gross, who lettered as a freshman last season, but decided during the summer to enroll in a junior college near his hometown, only to change his mind and return to Eastern this fall. “I’m not even altogether sure he’s OK. I’ve left messages saying, ‘Hey, if he’s not coming back, that’s OK. Just let me know that he’s fine and he didn’t get shot or something.’
“But neither I nor any of his teammates have received any return phone calls.”
Gross played in each of Eastern’s first 12 games, made two starts and was averaging 4.6 points before heading home on Christmas break.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Earlywine said. “In my mind, I’m resigned that he’s not coming back, for whatever reason, and all I’m trying to do now is verify that he’s OK.”
Offense near bottom
Though Washington State still leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense (35.1 percent) and in scoring defense (50.8 points per game), the Cougars have fallen to 303rd (out of 330) in scoring offense at 59.2.
A big part of the latter statistic comes from an inability to get easy buckets. WSU has a negative turnover ratio and ranks 309th in the nation in steals.
“When you don’t score, (and) we are struggling to score in the 50s or high 40s the last couple games, that does put some pressure on you defensively,” WSU coach Tony Bennett said. “We just have to keep finding ways, looking at adjustments, certainly.”
One adjustment might be the return of Nik Koprivica to the starting lineup at a wing in place of Daven Harmeling, who has taken just one shot in two games.
Harmeling seems more comfortable coming off the bench and playing the power forward spot.
Back at it
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is concerned with the quick turnaround his team faces after playing Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday before Portland visits the McCarthey Athletic Center on Saturday. The Pilots’ last game was a 71-67 victory over Seattle on Sunday afternoon.
“It comes immediately following us traveling all the way across the country,” Few said. “I tried to get it moved to Sunday, but couldn’t get it done. You just have to put that aside and play it. We set this (schedule) up with a veteran group and would hope they’d hold up through this.”
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