It’s been a season filled with schedule adjustments, game-time changes and COVID-19 protocols putting a full-court press on the players’ ability to have a traditional college experience.
Finally, a change that Gonzaga players and coaches can fully embrace. For the first time this season, players’ families will be permitted to watch in person at the McCarthey Athletic Center when the top-ranked Bulldogs entertain rival Saint Mary’s on Thursday.
Spokane’s move into Phase 2, which went into effect Sunday, means a total of 200 people can be inside the arena. Chris Standiford, deputy director of athletics, said games so far have had “north of 100” after adding up players, coaches, officials, game-day staff, media, photographers and television crews.
Standiford said the school’s first priority is accommodating players’ families.
“It’s going to be very big,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said after a 100-61 victory at San Francisco on Saturday. “We’ve been trying and trying at Gonzaga to get that pushed through. It’s taken quite a while.
“When you’re looking at a guy like Corey (Kispert), whose parents are sitting here right in the state of Washington and the only place they could watch him was when we were in Texas and Florida. That’s tough.”
Some of the players’ parents made trips to Spokane during the December holiday season, but couldn’t attend any of the five home games between Dec. 21 and Jan. 2.
The Zags will remain at home on Saturday against San Diego. The following week is a question mark because road matchups against Pacific and BYU were moved up to last week because of COVID-19 concerns in other West Coast Conference programs.
Gonzaga is waiting to hear if postponed home games against Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount will be rescheduled. Santa Clara has postponed six straight games and hasn’t played since Jan. 23. LMU edged Pacific on Saturday in the Lions’ first game since Jan. 25 due to a COVID pause.
The Broncos and Lions are scheduled to play Tuesday in Santa Clara, California.
“I’m happy that we’re going to squeeze out a couple (home games) down the stretch, and I think it’s going to really make our guys feel great,” Few said. “I know Jalen (Suggs) gets charged up whenever his family is able to watch, we’ll see if they can come. Drew’s family is good about traveling with us, so hopefully they can get in and see us.
“The other encouraging thing is families will be able to watch us (at the NCAA Tournament) in Indianapolis, so I know they’re excited about that.”
It’s Timme time
Drew Timme came on strong in the latter half of last season as a freshman. He’s back at it, in a bigger way, this season.
Timme had a memorable Saturday with 28 points on 11-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds and a solid defensive performance. He showed off a Hakeem Olajuwon-type move, driving the right side of the lane and extending the ball out with his left hand. He pivoted back to the middle, only to find a double-team, before a reverse-pivot layup over 7-foot Samba Kane.
“That’s TOUGH,” former Zag great Ronny Turiaf wrote on Instagram.
Timme has scored at least 19 points in eight of the past nine games. His lowest field-goal percentage in the past seven is 61.5. He’s had two sub-50% shooting games out of 20.
His numbers shook up GU’s statistical leaders and kept elevating his name in discussions for WCC and national honors. He moved into the scoring lead at 19.4 points to Kispert’s 19.2. Timme has scored 387 points, Kispert 383.
Timme moved past Joel Ayayi as GU’s leading rebounder at 7.3 per game (145 total). Ayayi’s at 7.2 (143).
Timme broke into the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage at 64%. Grand Canyon 7-footer Asbjørn Midtgaard is first at 74.4%.
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