olynyk

Forward Kelly Olynyk returning just in time for Gonzaga

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While No. 17 Gonzaga (3-0) hasn’t had much of an issue in any of their games to date, averaging 94.3 points per contest and winning by margins of 30+ points in each, it never hurts to add an experienced body to the rotation.

After redshirting last season and sitting out the first three games of this season due to suspension, 7-0 junior forward Kelly Olynyk is ready to see action for the first time since Gonzaga’s loss to BYU in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

And with the Bulldogs taking on a Clemson squad whose strength is up front (seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings lead the way), the Kamloops, British Columbia native will help from a depth standpoint.

“He’s going to help us a bunch,” GU coach Mark Few said. “He’s been a very good player for us in the preseason, one of our best so far in practice and all the workouts. He’s hungry to get back out there.”

Olynyk joins a rotation that already has Elias Harris, Sam Dower and freshman Przemek Karnowski, so it’s pretty clear that Mark Few isn’t lacking for answers in the paint. But if Olynyk is productive in whatever role he’s given Gonzaga becomes all the more formidable not only this weekend but for the remainder of the season as well.

Both Gonzaga and Clemson enter tonight’s game boasting offensive rebounding percentages above 40%, while the Bulldogs have been a slightly better team in regards to cleaning up their own glass (74.4% defensive rebounding percentage) and have five players averaging double figures.

Clemson plays at a slower tempo under head coach Brad Brownell, and they’ll look to combat their youth on the perimeter with the front court that also features wing K.J. McDaniels (9.9 ppg) alongside Booker and Jennings.

The Old Spice Classic tips off with West Virginia playing Marist and Vanderbilt taking on Davidson in the afternoon session, and Oklahoma plays UTEP in the first game of the evening session. The winner of the match-up between the Sooners and Miners will play the winner of Gonzaga/Clemson in one of Friday’s semifinals.

Photo credit: Gonzaga University

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: