There was no shortage of memorable moments Saturday during Kraziness in the Kennel, the public’s first opportunity to see Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team.
Right-handed Rui Hachimura took off from just inside the free-throw line for a left-handed jam during the dunk contest. Freshman wing Corey Kispert called his mom out of the stands to hold the ball and provide an assist on his forceful dunk.
Zach Norvell Jr. shook off a couple of airballs and got hot in the 3-point contest. Josh Perkins was even hotter and drained 12 3-pointers to beat Norvell in the finals.
Johnathan Williams drove in from the top of the key and elevated for a monster dunk during a 15-minute scrimmage, helping the Red team to a 31-26 win over the Blue.
But the McCarthey Athletic Center seemed to produce the most noise when head coach Mark Few was introduced and when the team’s Final Four banner was unveiled to an appreciative, overflow crowd.
Few was named Naismith Coach of the Year during the Final Four and was presented with the award Saturday. A few minutes later, a black curtain was dropped and revealed the Final Four banner on the east end of the building.
“Probably the highlight of my night,” Perkins said. “Something came into me and I just screamed. I don’t know where it came from.”
Few presumably didn’t scream, but he enjoyed the visual.
“It was awesome,” he said. “They did a great job with it and everything really stands out, as it should. Special, special moment. I wish we could have brought all our guys, Shem (Przemek Karnowski), Z-bo (Zach Collins), Nigel (Wlliams-Goss) and Jordan (Mathews) to kind of share in it, but good stuff.”
Time marches on and the Zags are back with a roster that doesn’t have the size, depth or experience of last year’s 37-win team, but the cupboard isn’t empty.
Williams showed off several nice moves, finishing with eight points and four rebounds.
“He looks like he’s ready for a great senior year,” Few said.
Williams is joined by backcourt veterans Perkins (seven points, three assists, three turnovers) and Silas Melson (seven points, two assists, four turnovers), and sophomore forward Killian Tillie, who sat out the scrimmage with a sprained ankle.
“We’re in the building process,” Williams said. “It’s changed a lot because we had great players like Shem and Z-bo, but coach Few told me what I have to do. I have to continue to grow, continue to watch film and continue to pick my spots.”
Hachimura, bidding for a starting position, scored eight points and pulled down five rebounds. He had a pretty finish inside over two defenders while getting fouled.
Freshmen Jesse Wade (two 3s, eight points) and Kispert (two points, two rebounds) had solid debuts. The biggest Zag, 6-foot-11 center Jacob Larsen, sidelined by a torn ACL last year, made all three of his field-goal attempts and grabbed four boards.
It was sloppy at times as the teams combined for 16 turnovers.
“It’s only Oct. 7,” Melson said. “That’s really our first up and down live scrimmage with real refs so we have stuff to watch and learn from.”
The stakes weren’t as high as the last time the Zags took the floor in the championship game, but the competitive juices were on display during the scrimmage. Perkins drew a charging foul on Melson and Blue team coach Tommy Lloyd mildly protested an over-and-back call.
“Always have the pushups (for the losing team),” Perkins said. “We didn’t (set) a number yet. A 102 sounds good, but it’s always fun making little wagers between the guys.”
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