Gonzaga men, women have their eyes on titles

Contributing writerMarch 6, 2013 

SPOKANE — Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few has never been a big fan of Top 25 polls.

“My kids follow the polls more than I do,” Few joked earlier this season.

On second thought, maybe he wasn’t joking. After all, when the Bulldogs became national media darlings by earning the No. 1 ranking Monday for the first time in school history, Few was so underwhelmed that he dodged reporters and left town to go fishing.

“I did all right,” Few — a devoted angler — reported Tuesday afternoon at the Bulldogs’ weekly media session.

Few gave players Monday off (“Everyone just needed to get away from basketball”) before resuming practice Tuesday to prepare for the West Coast Conference tournament.

Men’s and women’s games begin today at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, but the top-seeded Gonzaga men and women don’t play until Saturday’s semifinals. Mormon-run BYU does not play on Sundays, so the title games will be held Monday.

The Gonzaga men, 29-2 overall and 16-0 in the WCC, are certain to advance to the NCAA tournament — quite possibly as a No. 1 regional seed — regardless of their play in Vegas.

Gonzaga’s women, 15-1 in the WCC, are 25-5 overall. So sorry is the WCC’s national reputation in women’s basketball, the unranked Bulldogs might not be a lock for the NCAA tourney unless they claim the league’s automatic berth by winning the tournament. (Gonzaga made the top 30 in votes in both major Top 25 polls this week.)

Both Gonzaga teams cleaned up when WCC awards were announced Tuesday.

On the men’s side, junior forward Kelly Olynyk was named Player of the Year.

“He’s had a phenomenal year,” Few said.

Olynyk was joined on the all-league team by senior forward Elias Harris and sophomore point guard Kevin Pangos. Sophomore guard Gary Bell Jr. (a Kentridge High School graduate) made honorable mention. Center Przemek Karnowski made the All-Freshman team.

Senior swingman Mike Hart earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Few was named Coach of the Year for the ninth time.

Gonzaga senior guard Taelor Karr is the women’s Player of the Year.

“Taelor showed great leadership and played her best when we needed her best,” Bulldogs women’s coach Kelly Graves said.

Karr and junior guard Haiden Palmer represent Gonzaga on the all-WCC team. Junior guard Jazmine Redmon is Defensive Player of the Year; sophomore forward Sunny Greinacher made honorable mention; center Shelby Cheslek is on the All-Freshman squad; and Graves was named Coach of the Year for the seventh time.

The Gonzaga women have won four straight WCC tournaments, but GU’s men lost to Saint Mary’s in overtime in last year’s title game.

“That’s all the motivation we need,” Hart said.

The Gonzaga men have won 12 straight games, one fewer than the women.

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