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Gonzaga considering options with Anton Watson’s recurring shoulder issues

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 12, 2020

Anton Watson felt like he’d been making progress, which was apparent when he intercepted a pass Saturday and raced downcourt for a layup.

But the freshman forward took some punishment on the play. He was bumped by Loyola Marymount forwards Ivan Alipiev and Jonathan Dos Anjos. Watson tumbled into the padded stanchion that supports the rim and backboard and knew immediately his left shoulder had popped out of place again.

It’s the second time it’s happened since he started wearing a shoulder brace. The Zags are considering options with Watson having endured subluxations in four games: Texas A&M, Arizona (multiple subluxations), Portland and LMU.

“It’s hard,” coach Mark Few said. “That was definitely one of the roughest collisions he’s had. We just have to get back home and let the medical people look at it and tell us what the best thing is moving forward.

“He’s super frustrated. He was good (vs. LMU), his minutes are so valuable to us because he’s different than what we have, so versatile and he has such a good feel for the game. He was really good (vs. San Diego on Thursday) so we have to see if we can keep managing it or not.”

Watson has been effective, despite noticeably attempting to keep his left arm close to his body at times. He had four points, five boards, two steals, one block and one assist against San Diego.

Asked if there’s anything that can be done or changed, the Gonzaga Prep product said, “I think just change the way I play, but I don’t know. I don’t think we like doing that so we’re going to keep working on it and see what we can do to help it. Right now, we really don’t want to make it worse.”

Tillie’s non-scoring impact

Killian Tillie scored 42 points as GU opened WCC play 2-0 and just 14 in victories over San Diego and Loyola Marymount. His impact was big both weeks.

Tillie didn’t force shots against USD and LMU and eventually got three 3-pointers to drop. He stayed busy elsewhere with 10 rebounds and three blocks against the Toreros. He collected six boards and four assists and played solid defense on the Lions’ Eli Scott.

“When the shot isn’t falling you have to do what it takes to stay on the court,” Tillie said. “You just have to rebound, stay patient. (LMU) had a weird defense, that’s where you have to stay patient and get a good shot and that’s what we did.”

Serbian reunion

Gonzaga sophomore Filip Petrusev spent several minutes in warmups catching up with fellow Serbians and LMU freshmen Lazar Nekic and Lazar Zivanovic.

Petrusev estimated he was 12 when he played with the 7-foot Nekic for a couple of years in Belgrade. Petrusev and Zivanovic were teammates on a Serbian youth national team for one season. Zivanovic also played with Petrusev’s younger brother, David, when they were younger.

“He (Nekic) is a good friend,” Petrusev said. “I haven’t stayed in touch with him as much as (Zivanovic). We keep in touch, especially when I found out he was coming to the states.”

Nekic played seven minutes while Zivanovic, who has started two games, didn’t play.

Back on track

Gonzaga put together consecutive dominating performances after an inconsistent opening weekend in the WCC.

The Zags averaged 90.5 points. They limited San Diego to 50 points and LMU needed a hot finish to reach 62. Gonzaga grabbed 27 offensive rebounds and was plus-38 on the boards in the two games.

Gonzaga was clearly more focused and energized compared to week one of WCC play.

“We’re really a team that has to come out and play with a little bit of an edge and some fire,” Few said. “When we relax or get a little casual it really hurts us and it shows maybe a lack of crazy overall talent.”

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