After a day of classes, an afternoon of basketball practice and an early evening of studying, Domas Sabonis can usually be found at his home away from home.
No, it’s not in front of the TV or playing video games. It would be at the McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. It’s essentially Sabonis’ second address.
The 6-foot-10 freshman gets in touch with a teammate or a manager to see if they’ll join him for late-night hoops. He’s been joined lately by center Przemek Karnowski. Before Josh Perkins suffered a broken jaw, he’d accompany Sabonis to the MAC.
If others are busy, Sabonis goes alone.
“I just want to improve my game,” he said.
Sabonis was at the MAC on Thursday night, the day before the team departed for Saturday’s showdown with Arizona.
“I try to come here every night,” he said. “I can see where it’s helped for sure. My hook shots and free throws have improved so I’m happy with it. I do foot work, work on my post moves and I’m working on improving my right hand.”
Gonzaga has a rich history of players spending extra hours in the gym.
“Kevin (Pangos) comes to mind, (Derek) Raivio, a lot of this group does,” coach Mark Few said. “It’s such a fine line between being good and really good or great. It really takes that extra work and extra reps. The neat thing is he came over (from Europe) to do this so he’s maximizing everything about the situation.”
Sabonis is averaging 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. He’s encountered foul trouble in recent games, including Saturday when he picked up two quick fouls.
“If I’m in foul trouble I can’t do as many things to help my team so I have to be smart about it,” said Sabonis, who has been watching video to identify places where he can reduce fouls.
“We’re getting him more comfortable making plays facing up and understanding the nuances of how our game is called,” Few said. “The international game is really physical, especially (in the lane). They don’t call nit-picky things.”
It wasn’t easy to get extra work in when Sabonis played overseas.
“Here I have the privilege to have an open gym whenever I want,” he said. “Back home it was a little harder.”
Chris Dooley, a longtime friend of the Pangos family, is writing a book about Kevin titled: “Can’t Miss.”
Dooley, a retired teacher and coach, has interviewed Kevin numerous times and he’s been to Spokane to conduct additional interviews and research. He hopes to complete the book by next summer.
The book will feature personal anecdotes and detail the influences in Pangos’ life, including his family, coaches, teachers and experiences.
“When I started this process Kevin was in the 11th grade and he wanted to play at an NCAA Division I (school) because it’s the most direct route to the NBA,” Dooley said. “That’s his mentality. He’s got goals and he’s a driven young man.”
Dooley coached with Bill Pangos, Kevin’s father, on an Ontario provincial team in 1986 “and we’ve been friends ever since.”
There’s a story behind the title. Pangos, an 11th grader at the time, was lighting up a Guelph University squad coached by Chris O’Rourke and assisted by Dooley.
“I’m not saying Kevin is a can’t-miss NBA prospect. It’s just that his attitude and work ethic is process oriented to be successful, no matter what he does,” Dooley said. “Kevin is hitting shot after shot against us and the coach turned to me and said, ‘That guy can’t $%!# miss.’ As soon as he said that I said, ‘There’s the title.’ ”
Josh Perkins will undergo jaw surgery today. Perkins has been in contact with GU freshman soccer goalie Ben Willis, who broke his jaw Nov. 9 against Pacific. “He got his wires off (last Friday) so I’m happy for him,” Perkins said. “He said I could use his blender. We’re like best friends now.” … An additional 250 tickets for Wednesday’s GU-WSU game will go on sale today at 10 a.m. They can be purchased at TicketsWest box offices, www.TicketsWest.com or by calling 1-800-325-7328. … Gonzaga’s overtime loss to Arizona didn’t change its national ranking. The Zags (7-1) remained No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 8 in the USA Today rankings.
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