View Full Version : Meehan: "Mark Few turns into a juggler with bigs"

01-07-2013, 09:59 PM
Interesting post from our friend at the SR, Jim Meehan (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/jan/07/mark-few-turns-juggler-bigs/):
Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few has every intention of utilizing four talented front-court players, but juggling the playing time probably isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.

Take Saturday’s game against Santa Clara. Junior Kelly Olynyk was virtually unstoppable, scoring 33 points in 35 minutes. Senior Elias Harris was steady again, scoring 14 points for his 14th game in double figures in 15 outings. He played 26 minutes.

That left just 19 minutes for backups Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski, who didn’t play in the second half. Olynyk and Harris combined for 51 minutes against Pepperdine – approximately their season average – and 56 against Oklahoma State.

“It is hard, but at the same time we’re better when we can get those guys in there and we’re coming at you with multiple guys,” Few said. “We always have to remind ourselves to continue to do that. When we haven’t, I think we’ve slipped a little bit, but it is hard because at times (Olynyk and/or Harris) are getting on pretty good rolls.

“It’s probably the one downside to great depth.”

The reality is there are 80 minutes per game at the “4” and “5” positions with four capable options. In addition to a player being on a hot streak, as Olynyk has been in generating five games with at least 20 points in the last eight, there are countless variables: Practice performance, matchups and what’s needed in a particular situation (scoring, rebounding, defense, experience, size, finesse, low block, help breaking the press, etc.).

“We’re winning and that’s all that really matters,” Dower said. “When I do get in there, I’m going to do whatever I can to make this team better. I haven’t been down about anything. We’re playing good. We’re playing great.”

It’s hard to argue with the results. The quartet combines for an impressive 47.4 points per game, led by Olynyk’s 17.1 and Harris’ 15.1.

Olynyk ranks among the national leaders in field-goal percentage at 67.5. Karnowski (67.1) would be right behind if he met the qualifying standard of five made field goals per game. The four make 60.5 percent of their shots. That climbs to a whopping 63.6 percent when 33 3-point attempts are subtracted.

And then there’s the ability to absorb foul trouble while exerting foul pressure on opponents. Olynyk, with two, is the only Zag to foul out this season. Fifteen opposing players, all forwards and centers, have exited with five fouls, and that doesn’t factor in minutes lost when a player in foul trouble is forced to sit on the bench.

Olynyk, who played behind Harris and Robert Sacre earlier in his career, understands Dower’s situation perhaps better than anyone.

“I told him to stay positive,” said Olynyk, roommates with Dower for three years. “He can put up 20 a night easy, but he’s not getting as much time as he should because me and ‘E’ are playing a lot.

“Something amazing with our team … is even though guys aren’t playing on a certain night, no one is down on themselves. …, nobody is quitting. It shows how much of a family, how much of a team we are and how much … everyone wants total success rather than individual success.”

01-07-2013, 10:25 PM
Great article and his depth is an awesome problem to have.

Sorry guys but this is what keeps coming to mind..........


01-08-2013, 10:38 AM
Good article, and thanks for sharing, ZN. Although I'm not alone in thinking that Karnowski should get some more playing time, it is hard to take out Olynyk (or any other player for that matter) when he gets going.

The part of that article that stood out for me was Olynyk telling Dower to stay positive when not getting as many minutes. I have to imagine that he is having similar conversations with Karnowski. For Karnowski to see where Olynyk is at now and how hard he had to work to get there, I think it should provide a very good example for him and should be used as a learning experience.

I say this because it has to be difficult for a player (Karnowki, in this instance) who was so highly touted coming into the season to not see as many minutes as he may like, or even deserve. He is going to be an essential part of this team sooner rather than later, and I'm sure that he is likely hearing from family and friends about why he isn't playing as much. To have that outside pressure and influence can be a negative thing in my opinion, because those external forces have resulted in numerous transfers from our program.

To have Olynyk there as a mentor and example of hard work can only serve by helping to quiet his inner frustrations (not that I have seen or heard of any frustration on his part, but assuming that its there to some degree). It's hard to keep all the players content with playing time when we are blessed with this depth. For those players to stay positive is essential in order to avoid another devestating transfer.

01-08-2013, 11:03 AM
Unfortuantely you have to look at PK's free throw percentage. I know he's getting better, but Kelly, Sam, and Elias are very good FT shooters. If PK would have played more against Santa Clara it could have been a much closer game. Just imagine PK at the line instead of Kelly or Sam.