Men's Basketball Gets Pre-Season Tune-up With Exhibition

Nov. 4, 2010

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few gets his first look at the 2001 version of the Bulldogs men's basketball team Friday when Southern Oregon University of Ashland, Ore., visits the McCarthey Athletic Center for an exhibition contest.

Tipoff is 6 p.m. The game will be televised on KHQ-TV and FSN, and will be broadcast on the radio locally on 1510 KGA and 101.1 FM, as well as ESPN 1410 in Walla Walla, Wash.

The Bulldogs will be facing a Raiders squad that already has one game under it's belt after falling at Humboldt State University 74-51 last Saturday. Sam Osofsky and Kellen Hawley both scored in double-digits for the Raiders. Osofsky made three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Hawley had 11 points to go with nine rebounds. Southern Oregon struggled from the field making just 16 of 58 shots (28 percent).

SOU, a member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference and NAIA, is coached by Brian McDermott in his 15th season.

Returnees Drew Herrera, Hawley and Scott Tiefenthaler look to team with freshman Kyle Tedder and junior Jordan Highland to start the season as a starting five, with senior Austin Wolfer and juniors Joe White and Osofsky coming off the bench.

Herrera averaged seven points and led the team with 36 steals and finished with 54 assists last year as a part-time starter. Hawley and Tiefenthaler both red-shirted last year, while Tedder and Highland are new to the program.

Wolfer averaged almost four rebounds coming off the bench last year.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will be hoping 13 is their lucky number in the 2011 season.

With four returning starters and seven returning letterwinners in all, Gonzaga seems poised for another run at the West Coast Conference title and a 13th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga was ranked 12th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 pre-season polls.

Three of the four top scorers from a year ago return in sophomore Elias Harris (14.9 ppg), senior Steven Gray (13.6 ppg) and junior Robert Sacre (10.3 ppg). Harris (7.1 rpg) and Sacre (5.4 rpg) were one-two for the Bulldogs last year in rebounding.

 

 

Junior point guard Demetri Goodson is also back, having averaged 6.4 ppg and 1.8 assists/game a year ago.

Kelly Olynyk, who has grown to become a 7-footer along with Sacre, is perhaps the likeliest candidate for the fifth starting spot. He came off the bench in all 34 games last season as a freshman, averaging 3.8 ppg and 2.7 rpg. But Mangisto Arop will have something to say about that. He appeared in 31 games off the bench last year as a freshman before seeing his season come to an abrupt end in the West Coast Conference Tournament with a broken foot. He averaged 3.8 ppg and an equal number of rebounds.

Redshirt freshman Sam Dower, a 6-9 center/forward, is expected to see plenty of minutes if he doesn't find himself in the starting lineup.

The nucleus is intact, although the Bulldogs did lose 2010 WCC Player of the Year Matt Bouldin, who left with 1,683 career points, 444 assists and 170 steals.

"We have a good nucleus," Few said. "We have a lot of experience and this team has three or four guys - maybe more - who can hurt you."

The lone senior on the team is Gray, who also had 4.0 rpg and 2.9 assists/game, and Few hopes he gets off to the same hot start that propelled him to a solid season a year ago. Gray scored in double figures in nine of the first 10 games a year ago, including a career-high 27 against the University of Colorado in the opening game of the Maui Invitational as the Bulldogs came from 15 points down to post the victory. That propelled the Bulldogs to their first Maui title in three tries, and Gray and Bouldin shared MVP honors.

Gray has 958 career points as he zeroes in on becoming the 33rd member of the Bulldogs 1,000-point club, and his 98 steals are close to moving him into the career Top 10.

"We need a strong senior season from Steven," Few said. "He's a good leader and he's constantly improving his leadership skills. He's not a vocal leader, but he has the respect of his teammates and will definitely leave his mark on this team and the program."

Sacre and Harris give the Bulldogs two solid veterans with some muscle.

Sacre, who returned to play a full season last year after having the 2009 season cut short with recurring foot problems, averaged 5.4 rpg last season and had 65 blocked shots. He scored in double digits in 19 games, including a career-high 23 against Davidson College in the Battle in Seattle. He's also a career 51.3 percent shooter, and has continued to develop his offensive game.

"Rob might be the most improved player on the team if you consider the progress he's made since his freshman year, plus the fact he missed almost an entire year because of his injuries," Few said. "He has worked hard to improve all facets of his game, especially offensively. He will take on some leadership roles with Steven, and I'm certain they'll feed off each other."

Harris had one of the best freshmen seasons in Bulldog history, pacing the team with his 7.1 rpg and shooting 54.7 percent from the field while finishing second to Bouldin in scoring. Harris really came to the front in just his second game of his collegiate career as he scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as Gonzaga's upset bid at second-ranked Michigan State University fell short 75-71. But Harris put himself on the national map with his performance.

Harris, one of six international players on the Bulldog roster, grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds against the University of Illinois in the United Center in Chicago, scored the winning basket with :12 to play in overtime and then grabbed the rebound at the other end to seal the victory in one of the biggest wins of the season for the Bulldogs.

"Elias is one of the most athletic players we have," Few said. "He has the size to bang inside and the finesse to play outside. He's stronger than he was last year so he will be even more of a force under the basket last year. He has a great instinct for the ball, as shown by the way he rebounded a year ago. He'll only continue to get better and be a major factor in our success."

Harris' status for Friday will be a game-time decision as he recovers from a shoulder injury suffered late last week in practice, and if he does play he's not expected to see many minutes.

Olynyk has also bulked up since last season, growing an inch to stretch the tape to 7-0 and gain nearly 25 pounds to tip the scales at 245. He averaged 12.3 minutes/game last year as a freshman, but his role is expected to be even bigger this season.

"Kelly has worked hard in the off season to improve his strength. He had the skills as a freshman but he lacked the strength to really compete down low," Few said. "That won't be the case this year. He'll be able to muscle his way to points this year."

Olynyk averaged 3.8 ppg and 2.7 rpg a year ago and went 49-for-98 for an even 50 percent from the field. He came off the bench in all 34 games.

Arop is back at a forward spot. He suffered a broken foot in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament a year ago and missed the remainder of the season. He came off the bench in the first 31 games prior to his injury, averaging 12.0 minutes/game, 3.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg. He went 2-for-6 from the field in limited minutes through the first seven games last season, but as the season progresses his minutes - and his production - increased.

"Manny was probably our most consistent guy off the bench from mid-season on," Few said. "It may not have been reflected in his stats, but he did so many other little things for us that contributed to our success."

Goodson, a junior, returns at point guard to give the Bulldogs experience at perhaps the most important position in Mark Few's system. Goodson averaged 6.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 1.8 assists/game as he and Bouldin basically operated in the role of two point guards last season.

"Demetri needs to jump his game to the next level this season," Few said. "He's shown he can run this team and he's worked on his game and his confidence in the off season. With our lack of experience at the guard spots we need a big season out of him."

Sophomore Mike Hart is a shooting guard who could see minutes this season. He came off the bench in 14 games a year ago but played just 37 minutes.

"Mike is someone who could come in and give us some good minutes," Few said. "He's a good shooter. He's the type of blue collar worker every team needs. He's not flashy, but he's solid."

A pair of freshmen redshirts will also be in the hunt for playing time this season. Sam Dower, a 6-9 center/forward, and guard David Stockton sat out last season.

"Sam has made great strides in his game. He worked hard in his redshirt season, which is sometimes difficult to do," Few said. "Sam's great strength is at the offensive end. He can score for a big guy. He's a lefty so that makes it harder to defend because most people aren't used to seeing a lefthander. He can make a difference and is a unique post player."

Few said Stockton has also improved his game.

"David has gotten stronger, which is something he needed to do to play at this level. He has great court sense and could come off the bench and provide us with some quality minutes," Few said.

Four newcomers will also jockey for playing time - and perhaps a starting role. Junior college transfer Marquise Carter is expected to give Goodson plenty of competition at the point. Freshmen Keegan Hyland (6-4, forward), Mathis (ma-TEEC) Keita (6-5, guard) and Mathis (mat-tis) Möenninghoff (6-7 forward) give the Bulldogs a solid group of youngsters.

Carter comes to the Bulldogs from Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo. He averaged 14.5 ppg and 4.5 assists his freshman year on his way to Region XVI Player of the Year and second team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American honors. His sophomore season he averaged 17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals as Three Rivers CC advanced to the title game of the NJCAA title game. He scored 35 points in the title game and was an NJCAA All-Tournament first-team selection.

"Marquise is a winner," Few said. "He is a true point guard who has an outstanding feel for the game. He can shoot from the outside, he can penetrate and pass. He makes his teammates better. He'll make a big contribution this season."

Mönninghoff and Keita are two more in a long line of international players Few and his staff have recruited.

Mönninghoff and Keita both played in the in 2010 European U18 Championship. Mönninghoff played nine games for his native Germany, averaging 6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.8 assists while averaging 20.2 minutes/game as Germany went 4-5.

Keita played for France, going 5-4 to finish seventh as he averaged 8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, and 1.3 steals while averaging 20.9 minutes/game.

"The two Mathis' are typical of the European game," Few said. "They both strong perimeter games and a great court awareness."

Hyland attended South Portland High in Portland, Maine, but saw virtually no action last season after suffering a stress fracture of the left pelvic. He returned for just three games of his senior season, playing in the regular-season finale and two Western Maine State Class A Tournament games. He scored 32 points in South Portland's tournament semifinal loss. His junior year he averaged 27.7 ppg to lead the Southern Maine Athletic Association and was named to All-State teams selected by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and by the Bangor Daily News.

"Keegan is a shooter. He's a terrific shooter off the pass and off the dribble," Few said. "I think he'll continue to develop his game and will have a very good career at Gonzaga."

"This is an outstanding group of newcomers. Our depth will have to come from this group," Few said. "It's just a matter of who is ready to step in and perform at this level."

Another tough schedule faces the Bulldogs, with games against San Diego State University, Kansas State University, the University of Illinois, Washington State University, University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, Xavier University, Oklahoma State University, Wake Forest University and the University of Memphis dotting the non-conference slate. Plus, another tough WCC schedule awaits the Bulldogs, who have won or shared 10 straight WCC regular-season titles.

"It's a tough schedule, but I say that every year," Few said. "Our guys like playing that kind of schedule. It's what makes us better and helps prepare us for the post-season. But we can't look ahead to anybody if we are to be successful and compete every night."

And the goals remain the same.

"We have two goals - to win our conference and to play in the NCAA Tournament," Few said. "I think we have the team to make both of those things happen."

And hopefully 13 will be lucky for Few and the Bulldogs.

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