Dranginis Not Accustomed To Bright Lights Of Center Stage
By Matt Breach
Special to GoZags.com
SPOKANE, Wash. - There was only one point during his club's latest outing when Kyle Dranginis seemed bothered by the bright lights of the big stage. And that was after the outcome had long been decided.
"I'm not used to this at all," he said to a small cluster of camera-wielding journalists in the lockerroom following the game. "I can't even see right now there are so many lights in my eyes."
Dranginis never lost his focus Thursday night, scoring a career-high 30 points while leading Gonzaga to a 104-57 triumph over Lewis-Clark State College at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The win pushed the 12th-ranked Zags' record to 7-0.
"Kyle can do that," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It wasn't like it was an out-of-body experience. He's capable of doing that."
Dranginis, who spent his freshman season redshirting, finally proved that somewhere other than practice. He was the first Bulldog to score 30 points in a game since Kevin Pangos torched Washington State for 33 in November of 2011.
"It's a great feeling to just get back in that kind of groove," Dranginis said. "It was a fun night, for sure."
Dranginis had struggled with his outside touch through the Bulldogs' first six games. He had made just one of seven attempts from behind the arc and had accounted for only 16 points. But against Lewis-Clark State, an NAIA school from Lewiston, Idaho, the reserve guard found his stroke.
"I hit a couple in a row," he said, "and started to feel it a little bit."
Dranginis, the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Idaho, went 12-of-16 from the field. He drilled four of the Bulldogs' season-best 11 3-pointers. He scored 21 of his points in the second half and finished with seven assists and six rebounds, also both career highs.
"He is capable of that," Few said. "We have been kind of pushing and prodding him to get to that and to view himself as a player that can do that instead of viewing himself as a backup."
Dranginis received plenty of encouragement from teammate and roommate Gary Bell Jr. During every break in the action, Bell, who didn't play against the Warriors so he could heal some bumps and bruises, was urging Dranginis to shoot for the 30-point plateau.
"Every timeout, he was like, 'Drop 30 on them,' " Dranginis said. "We're real best friends, so it was good to see that from him."
For Dranginis, the only sight he welcomed more was his shot finally swishing through the net because it surely wasn't the collection of reporters and the stifling glare of their cameras.
NOTES - With Thursday's result, Gonzaga is now 10-0 all-time against Lewis-Clark State ... the 47-point win was the Zags' largest of the season ... Gonzaga topped 100 points for the second time this season. They also accomplished that feat in a 103-65 victory over Southern Utah in the season opener ... the Zags were 43-of-67 from the field, for a season-best 64 percent ... Drew Barham, a transfer from Memphis, scored 11 points, his highest output in a Gonzaga uniform ... the Bulldogs doled out a season-high 28 assists, seven of which came from David Stockton, tying a career high ... senior forward Elias Harris didn't play for the first time since his sophomore season, when he missed a game against Eastern Washington with a strained Achilles tendon ... Mark Few is now just one win from 350 in his career.