Gonzaga great Adam Morrison returning to Spokane as a student assistant


One of the greatest players in the history of Gonzaga basketball is returning to Spokane.

According to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com Adam Morrison will return to the program as a student assistant, completing his bachelor’s degree while helping out head coach Mark Few. Morrison spent three seasons at the WCC school, averaging 28.1 points per game and winning Chevrolet National Player of the Year as a junior (also sharing USBWA National Player of the Year honors with Duke’s J.J. Redick) in 2006.

Following that season, which ended in heartbreaking fashion in the Sweet 16 against UCLA, Morrison was drafted third overall by Charlotte in the 2006 NBA Draft.

But the path as a professional wasn’t as smooth for Morrison, who played four seasons in the NBA (two with the Bobcats and two with the Lakers) before playing in Europe during the 2011-12 season (Red Star Belgrade in Serbia and Besiktas Milangaz in Turkey).

While Morrison’s professional career may not have been as successful as he or anyone connected to the Gonzaga program would have hoped, his experiences can only help the current players as he takes on this new role.

“It’ll be great,” Few told Parrish. “The players really respect him.”

Gonzaga did lose front court mainstays Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris from a team that earned the program’s first-ever top seed in the NCAA tournament, but with contributors such as guards Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and David Stockton, and centers Sam Dower Przemek Karnowski all returning the Bulldogs should once again be a factor both within the WCC and nationally.

In addition to the returnees there’s Providence transfer Gerard Coleman and freshmen Lucas Meikle and Ryan Edwards, with all three helping Gonzaga when it comes to their depth.

Coach Few also brings in two transfers who will have to sit out the upcoming season in forwards Angel Nunez (Louisville) and Kyle Wiltjer. A scout team with those two and Morrison can only help Gonzaga as it looks to fare better in postseason play in 2013-14.

After hanging on to beat Southern in their NCAA tournament opener, the Bulldogs were knocked off by eventual West Region champion Wichita State.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.