Kyle Wiltjer posed for pictures with a family sitting courtside. Silas Melson launched a couple of shots from a chair on the bench. Dustin Triano attempted left- and right-handed 3-pointers simultaneously, one falling and the other drawing iron.
It was all fairly casual, until they started keeping score.
Gonzaga’s competitive streak came out during a 20-minute scrimmage that concluded an entertaining 75 minutes of festivities Saturday at Kraziness at the Kennel. Freshman point guard Josh Perkins scored most of his 17 points in the latter stages as Blue rallied from 10 points down to edge Red 39-35 in front of an overflow crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“We have a lot of competitive guys on this squad and once you get the scoreboard turned on it turns into a battle,” said Blue senior wing Kyle Dranginis, who made his typical broad contribution with five points, five assists, two rebounds and one steal. “It was a fun time and having the crowd to play in front of was fun, too.”
Dranginis earlier drained half-court shots in the semifinals and finals to lift his team, which included former Zags great Casey Calvary and a GU student, to victory in a shooting competition. Wiltjer edged Triano in overtime to capture the 3-point shooting contest. The senior forward drained eight 3-pointers in 15 seconds.
The Zags return one of the nation’s top frontcourts with Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, but lost three starters – including the four-year guard tandem of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos – from last year’s 35-win Elite Eight team.
Perkins, impressive as Pangos’ backup last season before he was sidelined in the fifth game with a broken jaw, hit two 3-pointers and added a three-point play. He had two assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes. Perkins made two free throws to seal it in the closing seconds and took the opportunity to remind Red guard Eric McClellan of their pregame bet.
“I just said, ‘Pushups,’ ” said Perkins, whose Blue squad was thumped by the Red in Friday’s practice. “I didn’t want to do them. At the end of the day, Eric had to.”
McClellan wasn’t happy about cranking out 50 pushups but he was pleased with the competitiveness and defense of both squads.
“That’s how we are in pickup, in practice and in an event like this,” said McClellan, who combined with Wiltjer and Sabonis for 33 of Red’s 35 points. “With the fans here, we don’t want to come out and lollygag. I think it was a good day.”
Karnowski was on hand but didn’t participate in the scrimmage. The 7-foot-1 center found out Friday during a trip to urgent care that he has pneumonia. The concern earlier in the week had been bacterial tonsillitis. He’d been under the weather for several days but said he was feeling better after just 24 hours on medication.
“He had a great run (playing for Poland) in the European championships,” said coach Mark Few, whose team opens with a Nov. 7 exhibition game against Eastern Oregon. “He’s going to have to sit for a while now. Hopefully, we’ll get him back by the end of the month.”
Sabonis, who returned to practice Friday after taking time off from playing for Lithuania most of the summer and early fall, led all rebounders with seven. He also made 7 of 8 free throws.
Johnathan Williams, the former Missouri forward who will sit this season under NCAA transfer rules, connected on a 3-pointer and scored inside en route to 10 points and five rebounds for the Blue. Washington transfer guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who becomes eligible next season, didn’t play because of an ankle injury.
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