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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Drew Timme ready for challenges that come with Gonzaga’s preseason hype

UPDATED: Wed., June 17, 2020

Drew Timme doesn’t waste a lot of time worrying about rankings, preseason or otherwise.

The sophomore forward does put stock in his belief in Gonzaga’s 2020-21 team and he understands all the off-season hype about the Zags goes directly into the motivation file for opponents.

Gonzaga, projected as the preseason No. 1 by several outlets, has lined up a challenging nonconference slate with Texas, USC, the Orlando Invitational, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and Texas Tech – all over a five-plus week span.

Then it’s on to the WCC, which is coming off one of its strongest seasons and was virtually certain to have three teams make the NCAA Tournament before the event was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Playing here you get put on a national schedule and you better come prepared to play because if not, you’re going to get your butt kicked,” Timme said. “We love (the schedule), I love it. We want to play the best because we believe that we are the best. And the only way to prove you’re the best is to beat the best.”

Timme had one of the better freshman seasons by a GU big, finishing at 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He improved at both ends of the court as the season progressed, including a string of five straight double-digit games in February and a 17-point performance in the WCC Tournament title win over Saint Mary’s.

GU was projected as a No. 1 seed, playing at the Spokane Arena on the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. One day after the WCC title game, the NCAA announced fans wouldn’t be permitted inside tournament arenas.

Two days later, the tournament was canceled.

Northwest Passages Virtual Forum / The Spokesman-Review

“It was crushing and something I’ll never forget,” Timme said Wednesday during a Northwest Passages Virtual Forum. “I’m fortunate in the sense I’m a freshman and I have more years to come but guys like (seniors) Admon (Gilder), ‘Nico’ (Ryan Woolridge) and (Killian) Tillie, it’s bittersweet.

“It was sad to see them so hurt. Everything they put in and all the passion and hard work we’ve been through as a team, we felt we could go all the way and win it all. We understood the greater message. People’s lives are way more important than the game of basketball.”

Timme returned home to Richardson, Texas, with COVID-19 prompting stay-home orders across the country. He stayed busy, working on his body and his game.

Timme, younger brother Walker, a senior at J.J. Pearce High in Richardson, and father Matt, who played at SMU, turned the clock back with one-on-one battles on a smaller-than-regulation court in the driveway.

“We were going at it,” Timme said. “It was fun, like the good old days. We just play one-on-one back and forth. You get a stop, you go to the other end, so there’s a nice little conditioning piece to it.”

Timme was listed at 235 pounds but he dropped weight through the course of last season. His off-season goal was to regain a few pounds and add strength.

“Just trying to get more weight, but the good weight,” he said. “I feel stronger, more athletic.”

Texas eased restrictions sooner than most states, which allowed Timme to get in the gym, even playing in some pickup games, for 3-4 weeks before returning to Spokane.

Timme doesn’t miss the Texas heat – temperatures recently soared above 100 degrees – or humidity. He enjoys Spokane’s cooler temperatures and even winter snow that he rarely experienced back home.

GU players are limited to strength and conditioning workouts in small groups. They can shoot, one athlete per hoop, for an hour. Timme showed a soft touch and was effective in the paint as a freshman, but he’s hoping to expand his scoring range.

“Being able to step out and consistently shoot 3s, I’ve been hammering that a lot as of late,” Timme said. “And also my ball-handling, keeping it tight, bring it up the court myself and start the break.”

Timme came off the bench in all but four games last year. He figures to take on a bigger role whether Filip Petrusev stays in the NBA draft or returns for his junior season.

“To be honest, I have no idea what my role is going to be,” he said. “I’ll do whatever as long as we get wins at end of day. I do think leadership is an area I’m going to need step up with Tillie leaving. Corey (Kispert) is a great leader and I think I can kind of help him a little bit.”

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