Geno Crandall considers himself a positive person, which came in handy during several of the most stressful months of his young life.
Crandall was in the midst of trying to earn his degree from North Dakota to complete his graduate transfer to Gonzaga. Stress levels ascended as his arrival date kept getting pushed back, from early August until mid-October.
“It was a journey. There was a bunch of school work involved, a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff,” he said. “I’m just so glad to finally be here and put on this red, white and blue uniform.
“I always have a tendency to believe things always work out. I wouldn’t say I ever doubted, but it was kind of something new coming up, OK, what’s the next obstacle? Definitely a crazy journey. I’m glad I never have to go through it again.”
After completing his last assignments, the waiting game began. His family went on a vacation to see relatives. Crandall wanted to go, but opted to stay home in case he received word regarding his eligibility.
Finally, the call came from Gonzaga assistant coach Brian Michaelson.
“It was about 5 in the afternoon,” said Crandall, who was in his hometown of Minneapolis at the time. “I got the call: ‘You’re cleared, NCAA cleared you, North Dakota cleared you, Gonzaga cleared you.’ I was on a plane by 8. I barely got to pack anything. I called my mom and said, ‘You might have to send me a few packages.’ ”
Crandall arrived Oct. 12, around midnight. His first practice was the next morning at 10.
“I don’t think I got a rep off the whole practice,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “They were trying to get me up to speed. That was a rough day for me.”
Crandall has been a quick study, digesting new schemes at both ends of the court. He calls them complex, but those around him have been impressed by his ability to absorb everything thrown his way.
“He’s a really smart guy who picks things up quickly,” coach Mark Few said. “He has a great feel for the game and some intangible leadership things, talking, that are perfect for that position.
“It’s kind of what we need, kind of what we’re lacking. This isn’t the strength of some of our guys to talk or lead. Quite frankly, it’s nice to have somebody like that.”
He has 17 points, 10 assists, five steals and three turnovers in the two games.
“He can get me off the ball a little bit,” point guard Josh Perkins said. “He can run the team. He’s a vocal guy. You add an asset like that, it’s all positive.”
Crandall isn’t shy about communicating with teammates.
“That’s really big for our team,” sophomore wing Corey Kispert said. “It’s not a library on the floor. His energy is contagious. Great hands on defense and a jumper that’s a problem for teams to guard.”
Crandall is still learning Gonzaga’s strategies at both ends of the floor. The Zags installed a new play last week and Crandall locked down the details in a hurry – except for one fairly important detail.
“I knew the play, but I couldn’t remember the name,” Crandall laughed. “So the next morning I was like, ‘What was the name of that play we put in?’ ”
Crandall’s teammates filled him in, and it was on to the next task.
“At first, it was kind of a lot really fast. I just got here and everybody was in the swing of things and they had sets put in and principles on offense and defense,” he said. “The coaches and players were great about accommodating me. There have been some bumps here and there, but everyone just pats me on the back and says, ‘You’re good.’ And it’s on to the next play.”
Showing that his positive outlook is more than just talk.