Gonzaga Bulldogs

AP Photo/John Locher

Gonzaga’s Collins to declare for draft and hire agent

1 Comment

Gonzaga’s first-ever McDonald’s All-American turned out to be a one-and-done talent.

Freshman Zach Collins will declare for the NBA and hire an agent, the school announced Tuesday evening.

“This was a significant decision for my family and me,” Collins said in a statement released by Gonzaga. “It was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I just want to thank everyone at Gonzaga, especially the coaching staff and my teammates.

“This season was special and something I will never forget. It was the most fun year of my life. I want to thank all of the Zag fans for all of their support and passion. I’ll always be proud to be a Zag.”

The 7-footer averaged 10 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 65.2 percent from the field. His play in the NCAA tournament was outstanding, reaching its peak in the Final Four win over South Carolina in which he tallied his first – and last – career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds to go along with six blocked shots.

Given his size and skill – he projects as a player capable of stretching the floor, Collins is a potential lottery pick after just one season in Spokane.

The loss of Collins, along with senior Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews, certainly hurts this year’s national runner-up, but coach Mark Few certainly does not have a bare cupboard at his disposal in 2017-18. In fact, NBC Sports projected the Zags as a preseason top-10 team, even without Collins.

Przemek Karnowski’s father traveled 6,000 miles to watch him play in Final Four

Leave a comment

Gonzaga senior center Przemek Karnowski has been one of the fan favorites during the 2017 NCAA Tournament. His name. His beard. His stature. His passing ability. There’s a lot to like.

The 7-foot-1 big man has one of the best storylines in all of college basketball. Karnowski suffered a staph infection that was so severe, it almost cost him his playing career, if not his life. A year later, he’s helped send the Zags to the program’s first national championship game. And his father, Bonifacy, was there to see it, traveling 6,000 miles from Poland to Glendale, Arizona.

From Mike Lopresti of NCAA.com:

“I’m very happy. It’s a great moment for Gonzaga, for Przemek, for Polish supporters, because Polish television make a direct transmission from here,” he said. “The whole country is watching. First time in history.”

He had reached Phoenix this very day, landing at 1 a.m. through London. A little sleep, and then to the University of Phoenix Stadium. No wonder he looked a tad tired. Maybe the American television noticed, because there Bonifacy was, with the screen to himself in the first half, after Przemek caught a South Carolina hand in the eye.

Gonzaga will play North Carolina on Monday night for the national championship after defeating South Carolina, 77-73, in the first of two national semifinals on Saturday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Karnowski was poked in the eye in the first half but was able to play in the second half. South Carolina went on a 16-0 run in the second half, taking a 67-65 lead. Karnowski would help curb that run, leading the Bulldogs to seven unanswered points and recapturing a lead it would never surrender.

Karnowski ended with 13 points.

WATCH: Mark Few do a handstand after Gonzaga’s Final Four win

Leave a comment

Gonzaga is heading to Monday night’s national championship game following a thrilling 77-73 win over South Carolina in the first of two national semifinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday night.

After getting drenched with water, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, who has taken this program to 18 NCAA Tournaments in 18 seasons, celebrated the school’s first trip to the national championship game with a handstand inside the locker room.

The Bulldogs will play the winner of North Carolina and Oregon.

WATCH: Xavier scores a basket off the ground, Macura’s buzzer-beater waved off

Leave a comment

Xavier, the No. 11 seed in the West region, needed a few break to go its way in order to stay with top-seeded Gonzaga in the first half of the Elite Eight matchup from San Jose on Saturday evening.

Just before halftime, the Musketeers got the ball to bounce their way. Literally. Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams and Xavier’s RaShid Gaston battled for a rebound. Williams inadvertently spiked the ball off the basket, off himself and off the backboard for a two-board bucket for Xavier.

The bucket was awarded to Gaston. It was two of Gaston’s five first half points.

Less than 30 seconds later, J.P. Macura tried to top Gaston’s unlikely field goal with a bank shot of his own. Following a bucket from Nigel Williams-Goss, Macura heaved a three-quarters court at the buzzer. However, after reviewing the play, it was waved off.

The Zags led 49-39 entering halftime.

No. 4 Gonzaga tops Santa Clara

AP Photo/John Locher
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nigel Williams-Goss had 25 points and eight rebounds, and No. 4 Gonzaga secured a spot in the West Coast Conference title game for the 20th straight season with a 77-68 victory over pesky Santa Clara on Monday night.

Przemek Karnowski added 19 points and seven boards for the Bulldogs (31-1), who dominated inside in winning their second straight since their loss to BYU.

Gonzaga will seek its fifth straight conference championship Tuesday night against the winner of the late game Monday between No. 19 Saint Mary’s and BYU.

Jared Brownridge scored 32 points for Santa Clara (17-16), which has dropped 15 in a row to Gonzaga.

The Broncos, who lost to Gonzaga by 31 and 35 points during the regular season, played their second straight game without second-leading scorer K.J. Feagin, who was sidelined by a concussion. Then two of their starters, Emmanuel Ndumanya and Nate Kratch, each had four fouls before the second half was 5 minutes old.

But they stayed in the game behind the dynamic Brownridge, who hit 12 of 25 shots. Santa Clara cut a 15-point deficit to 56-51 on Kratch’s bucket with 8:59 left.

Gonzaga answered with Karnowski’s half-hook and two free throws and a layup from Williams-Goss during an 8-2 run.

When the Broncos again rallied to 68-63, Williams-Goss drained his only 3-pointer with 1:43 left. Las Vegas native Zach Collins’ 3 with 47 seconds left made it 74-65.

The Zags shot 56 percent from the field and had 46 points in the paint.

BIG PICTURE

Santa Clara: Herb Sendek inherited an 11-21 team and got the Broncos into the WCC semifinals for the first time in six years. The former North Carolina State and Arizona State coach overcame seven players missing time with injuries and posted a winning record in his first season.

Gonzaga: The Zags became the nation’s first 31-win team and can likely cement its status as a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament with a victory in the final Tuesday.

DEFLATEGATE?

The teams combined to make their first three shots with a ball that was under-inflated. Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins appeared to bring it to the officials’ attention during a stoppage in play 1:31 into the game. There was a delay of over a minute before a new ball was produced.

UP NEXT

Santa Clara: Sendek will need to replace seniors Brownridge and Kratch next season. Each played in all 129 games the past four years.

Gonzaga: The Zags will attempt to extend their conference tournament winning streak to 14 in Tuesday’s final.

Karnowski leads No. 4 Gonzaga past Santa Clara 88-57

Leave a comment

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Coming off a big win in a showdown with rival Saint Mary’s, No. 4 Gonzaga could have been in for a bit of a letdown.

Seeing another frenzied crowd hoping for an upset was more than enough to keep the Bulldogs on their game.

Przemek Karnowski scored 19 points on just seven shots from the field and Gonzaga remained the only undefeated team in Division I with an 88-57 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday night.

“I’ve been here for five years and basically wherever you go it’s the biggest game of the season, in the conference at least,” Karnowski said. “We have to be prepared for that. Their crowd was really into it. We came out focused and I liked our intensity.”

Karnowski made six shots against the undersized Broncos and added seven more points from the free throw line to help the Bulldogs (18-0, 6-0 West Coast Conference) extend the best start in school history with another lopsided win.

Zach Collins had 16 points and Nigel Williams-Goss added 11 points and 10 rebounds in Gonzaga’s 11th straight double-digit win.

“Every game they come out ready to go,” coach Mark Few said. “They come out with energy, effort, and attention to detail has been really good. They’re a mature group.”

Jared Brownridge scored 23 points to lead the Broncos (10-10, 4-3) but got little help from his teammates as Santa Clara dropped its 13th straight to Gonzaga and 37th in the past 39 meetings.

“We just were stagnant on the offensive end – it had everything to do with us,” Brownridge said. “They’re a great team, there’s no argument about it. Tonight’s game had to do with us.”

Gonzaga scored 13 straight points midway through the first half to open a 20-point lead and never looked back as Santa Clara struggled to get open shots and couldn’t keep the Bulldogs out of the paint.

Brownridge keyed a 15-5 run early in the second half that cut a 21-point lead to 11 but the Bulldogs quickly built the lead back to 20 and coasted to the win.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: After easily passing their first true test in conference play with a 23-point win over then-No. 21 Saint Mary’s on Saturday, the Bulldogs avoided a letdown by building the big early lead. There don’t figure to be many tough tests the rest of the regular season outside of a return trip to Saint Mary’s next month so the main task for Gonzaga will be to maintain their intensity before for the tournaments in March.

Santa Clara: The Broncos came into the game having won four of five but it was a different level of competition this game. They missed 14 of their first 18 shots – with six air balls – and never had a chance at the upset. They struggled to get any consistent offense outside of Brownridge and were overmatched inside in coach Herb Sendek’s first game against the class of the WCC.

DEFENDING BROWNRIDGE

Brownridge moved into seventh place on the WCC all-time scoring list with 2,079 points, jumping ahead of Loyola Marymount’s Forrest McKenzie. He made six 3-pointers but Few was happy with the overall defensive effort.

“Brownridge is an unbelievable player and he’s unbelievably gifted coming off those pin-downs and finding his shots,” Few said. “I thought we did a nice job, mixed up the coverages and made it hard, not just on him, but everyone else.”

LIVING AT THE LINE

Santa Clara committed six fouls in the first 4:13 of the second half and Gonzaga lived at the free throw line from there. The Bulldogs shot 18 for 23 from the line in the second half as they repeatedly fed Karnowski and Collins inside.

“They were in the double bonus early in the second half so we tried to take advantage of that and tried to go inside and pin fouls on them,” Karnowski said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A lopsided win over an overmatched opponent should do little to change the ranking for the Bulldogs in the AP poll .

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: Hosts Portland on Saturday.

Santa Clara: Hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25