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