WHAT WE'VE LEARNED - WCC BASKETBALL - NON-CONFERENCE WEEK TWO
By John Crumpacker, WCC Columnist | @CrumpackerOnWCC
For most people, Thanksgiving means stuffing oneself with turkey and recovering on the couch watching football games. For a select group of others, meanwhile, the holiday means going light on the bird and hard on the court in basketball tournaments from Alaska to Hawaii to Florida and points in between.
Nine of the conference's 10 teams are involved in holiday tournaments between now and the end of the year, seven during Thanksgiving and two during Christmastime.
BYU put up a tremendous effort before falling to No. 15 San Diego State in the Maui Classic. Gonzaga will measure itself against Georgia on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-off tourney. Pacific is at the Great Alaska Shootout preparing for a Wednesday game against host Alaska-Anchorage.
San Francisco is in the midst of the Gulf Coast Showcase, having defeated Hawaii in the opener. Santa Clara faces Tennessee on Thanksgiving in the Orlando Classic. Portland is gearing up for three games in three days at the Challenge in Music City, there to face Murray State on Friday, Drake on Saturday and Valparaiso on Sunday.
San Diego is hanging around Southern California during Thanksgiving, playing in the Wooden Legacy against Xavier on Thursday at Cal State Fullerton.
Next month, Loyola Marymount will be in Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic, there to face imposing Wichita State on Dec. 22. Pepperdine is in the Gotham Classic for a Dec. 20 game at Madison Square Garden against Richmond.
Only Saint Mary's is staying at home, during Thanksgiving and Christmas, although the Gaels do have a game at Creighton on Dec. 13 and another at St. John's on Dec. 19.
My biggest take-away from the first day of the Maui tournament, other than those vivid blue aloha shirts worn by BYU coach Dave Rose and his staff (I want one), is that the Cougars are nothing if not resolute in their approach to offensive basketball. Put it up and see what happens.
WCC teams that want to beat BYU had better be prepared to fill up the basket, as San Diego State did in Maui. After the Cougars took a 76-71 lead in the first overtime on Tyler Haws' hi-arcing short jumper in the key, the Aztecs went on a 21-11 run the rest of the way to earn the victory. Haws, who has no hesitation about hoisting up a shot, finished with 26 points.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- GONZAGA might be even better than advertised, if that's possible. In getting off to a 4-0 start, the Zags look like they have plenty of depth to go with all that talent. Coach Mark Few's team piled up an aggregate 203-97 score against St. Joseph's (94-42) and St. Thomas Aquinas (109-55). In a reserve role, 6-8 senior forward Angel Nunez had 24 points and 11 rebounds in 19 minutes. Freshman Domantas Sabonis, another reserve, also played 19 minutes and scored 19 points.
- Brad Waldow is one crafty character around the basket. Faced with the prospect of going against a man eight inches taller than him, the 6-10 SAINT MARY'S pivot simply shot over and around UC Irvine's 7-6 monolith, Mamadou Ndiaye, as he scored eight of his career-matching 28 points against the big man in the Gaels' 72-69 win.
- In a tough 76-69 loss at Washington on Sunday, PACIFIC'S T.J. Wallace came up big with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers are 2-2 and now head to the Great Alaska Shootout. Pack those parkas, Pacific. Temperatures are expected to be in the 20's later in the week.
- Coach Eric Reveno has a player on his PORTLAND roster who has a name worth remembering ... and spelling, as well. In a 75-53 win over SIU Edwardsville, 6-10 senior Volodymyr Gerun had 21 points in 23 minutes, along with 8 rebounds and one each in the assist, turnover, block and steal categories.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Gonzaga Basketball @ZagMBB 37m37 minutes ago Right now Zags are #9 in the nation in FG% and #7 in FG% defense..Only team to be in top 10 in both categories!
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK
How about this beauty: 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 6 6 0 0 8 1 0 1 20?
What all those zeroes added up to, for Loyola Marymount point guard Chase Flint, was no field goals attempted, no 3-point shots taken, no free throws attempted, no personal fouls, no points and no blocks. But his contribution in LMU's 82-60 win over San Diego Christian was still significant, as he had 8 assists (vs. 1 turnover) 6 defensive rebounds and 1 steal in 20 minutes of work.
Flint was more than content to let teammates Evan Payne (28), Patson Siame (16) and Ayodeji Egbeyemi (13) fill up the scoring column.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"That's all I watch when I watch old basketball, to see what he did.''
That's Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr., referring to his hoops-playing father, Lamond Sr., who starred at Cal and went on to play 11 years in the NBA. "Old basketball,'' of course, is a relative term. The elder Murray's glory days at Cal were 1992-94.
So what's new?
With Lamond Sr., you ask? Lamond Jr. reports that his father runs an AAU basketball team in Orange County, has a personal training business and also conducts PE classes for home-schooled kids.
The younger Murray, meanwhile, had 6 points, 3 rebounds and a steal in Pepperdine's 63-44 win at San Jose State on Wednesday playing a swing role for the Waves. He said his dad never put any expectations on him except to have fun.
"He always told me, my life is a different life. I don't have to live up to his,'' Murray Jr. said. "It took a lot of pressure off me so I could go out and have fun. That's what made him a great father figure.''
His coach, Wilson, said, "He's getting better. I challenged Lamond with his mind and his ability to rebound and defend. When they start clicking, he'll help us. Our guys need him.''
As in, the USF Dons don't play in Florida very often. The Dons are in the Sunshine State for the Gulf Coast Showcase, having defeated Hawaii 88-73 on Monday night. It's only the second time in school history that USF has been to Florida for basketball.
The first time? It was Dec. 17, 1963 in Miami and a fellow named Rick Barry led the Hurricanes to a 95-83 victory - this was decades before the shot clock and 3-point shot) - by pumping in 35 points. For the Dons, senior guard - and future head coach - Jim Brovelli scored eight points.
FOLLOW THE THREE DOTS...
That win by the Dons was No. 101 at USF for coach Rex Walters. ... Walters picked up a national letter-of-intent from 6-8 forward Dont'e Reynolds for 2015-16. He's currently at Odessa College in Texas. ... Corbin Kaufusi was all set to play football for BYU until he experienced a growth spurt while on his Mormon mission to South Korea. He came home topping out at 6-10 and is now a freshman center on the basketball team. Father Steve is an assistant coach on the football team and brother Bronson is a player on the football team.