Happy Big News Thursday. Let's get to it...
Santa Clara's lone senior Marc Trasolini tore his ACL on Tuesday night in an exhibition match and is out for the entire upcoming season. Reports surfaced late Wednesday night of Trasolini's injury, which occurred during a trip to his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia that the team chose to take largely due to his strong roots in the area. Hundreds of Trasolini's family and friends were said to be in attendance when the injury occurred. Players and coaches attended a team dinner at Trasolini's family home the following day, during which head coach Kerry Keating issued a statement indicating Trasolini would seek a medical red shirt year and return as a senior for the 2012-13 season. The injury puts an even higher share of the scoring burden on prolific junior Kevin Foster, who already exercises more of that burden than any returning player in the country, as well as rising sophomore star Evan Roquemore. Santa Clara was a legitimate pick to finish third in the WCC, and at least in the opinions of this author, was going to be instrumental in advancing the quality of league play to a level commensurate with its new found television exposure and overall goals of improvement. The blow to Trasolini leaves that prediction in significant jeopardy.
The Inlander reported last week that two reporters who cover Gonzaga basketball for the Spokesman-Review have accepted early retirement benefits and will be leaving the newspaper. Pithy columnist John Blanchette (who covers a wide range of inland northwest sports topics in addition to of Gonzaga basketball) and Zag women's beat reporter Dave Trimmer are said to have accepted early retirement buyouts, the specific details of which have not been disclosed to the general public. It unclear when either Zag reporter will leave the paper, but Slipper has learned that another one of the reporters named in the Inlander piece, Vince Grippi, will leave at the end of the 2011 calendar year. When questioned about what implications the personnel moves might have on local coverage, Editor Gary Graham reportedly told the Inlander, "I'm not about to share any of our internal plans with other media." Neither Blanchette or Trimmer responded to Slipper's requests for comment on the situation. Seattle Times reporter Bud Withers, who knows both Blanchette and Trimmer, was unaware of their impending early retirement when we asked him about the situation earlier this week. "Blanchette would be a huge loss for (the Spokesman)," he said, genuinely surprised. "I know a lot of what's going on over there is trying to get younger so they can pay guys less. But you're not going to find some 25 year old guy who's going to give you what Blanchette gives you."
- You may know Withers as the man who doused us Sunday with a mildly-rousing blend of facts, implication, quotes and actual journalism in this article which Zach recently excerpted. Aside from chronicling an increase in Gonzaga transfers over the past two seasons which we're all too familiar with, the article formally revealed that ex-Zag Demetri Goodson did "not really" have a good relationship with Mark Few, and caused many in the fan community to discuss the level and ramifications of the "distance" between Few and some of his players. Goodson was quoted as saying he felt he was a better basketball player than people saw him as. "It is a bit of a mixed message," Withers said of Goodson's comments in light of his decision to play football. "I think he found it difficult to play in a system where there have been really good point guards in the past. Mark (Few) definitely wants specific things out of guys. He definitely wants structure. It's hard to get inside Meech's head, but I'm assuming what he was saying was, 'I would've liked a little more freedom.'" When asked about Few's "distant" nature with players, fans and even the media, Withers noted Few "has been more than willing to spend as much time as I need with him," and is generally very obliging to him as a media figure. Withers, who knows several members of both the Gonzaga coaching staff and the Spokesman-Review, said that he couldn't speak to the nature of the Spokesman's interaction with Few or the program.
- Gonzaga's official athletics website last week posted the same 27-game version of the men's schedule we've been tweaking on our site over the past several weeks - but with two notable additions. GU will host an exhibition match against Carroll College on Friday, October 28th at 6pm, a full two weeks before the season opener against Eastern Washington. Also new is the announcement of all but six of this year's game times. It is unclear whether or not the posting means the schedule is completed or whether it is still a work in progress. The Gonzaga athletics twitter account, which recently trumpeted the announcement of the women's schedule, made no announcement of the men's posting, and the school did not release a statement saying that the schedule was finalized. Dr. Jerry Krause, known schedule curator, did not respond to Slipper's request for comment regarding the status of the 2011-12 slate. The school is allowed to add up to two more games for this upcoming season if they so choose. There is currently a 12-day hole in the schedule running from November 14th to November 26th. Most Division I teams have already completed and announced their 2011-12 schedules, but included among the few who are still advertising their availability during the second half of November on the recently revamped Basketball Travelers schedule boards are North Texas, Hawaii and fellow
JesuitCatholic institution St. Bonaventure.
- With almost eerie synchronicity, one-time heavily courted 6-7 California forward Skylar Spencer officially went off the board earlier this week just as newly-courted 6-7 California forward Chris Reyes jumped onto our collective radar. While Gonzaga was at one time considered one of the favorites for Spencer's services, Scout.com reported on August 17th that the Bulldogs mysteriously stopped recruiting him. Spencer committed to San Diego State earlier this week. Reyes - whom various sites say will visit Gonzaga either October 7th or October 8th - has offers from the Zags, Saint Mary's, Boston College and UC Santa Barbara, each of which he will visit in the next 30 days. According to Scout.com and Hot100Hoops, other WCC schools San Francisco and Loyola Marymount have also offered Reyes, whose AAU coach seems to think he'll visit at least one more school. Reyes joins Polish seven-footer Prez Karnowski and small forward Demarquise Johnson, due to visit Gonzaga September 15th, as the remaining key 2012 targets in a pool that was once overflowing with potential signings. Hopefully Zach or Max can speak (more knowledgeably) sometime soon about the absence of a single commitment, and help drown out the soft drone of crickets coming from the recruiting trail.
A quick programming note: Kelly Olynyk's Canadian National team
is currently fighting Panama on ESPN3, in case you'd like to be that guy who watches daytime FIBA basketball at work lost to Panama this morning, leaving them one spot shy of qualifying for FIBA's Olympic qualifying tournament next July.