Before I start, it is imperative that if you didn't check out the site earlier, you MUST click this link (or scroll down) and read EDZ's interview with Elias Harris. It's a thing of beauty.
With that little disclaimer, I feel like I should probably admit my initial skepticism regarding Harris and how that is all now but gone, even before he sets foot in Spokane. In case you weren't aware, Elias Harris is currently playing with the German men's national team in Poland at the 2009 Eurobasket tournament. This field is typically loaded with the best players from their respective countries and this year is no different. Today, Elias and the German national team, playing for their first time without NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, took on France which touts some familiar names. First and foremost, Gonzaga fans will recognize the name Ronny Turiaf. Ronny was one of the pillars of what is right about Gonzaga basketball. From his outgoing and in-your-face demeanor on the court to his aggressive style of basketball, Turiaf helped put Spokane, Washington on the map. France also has up-and-coming Portland Trailblazer Nicolas Batum and veteran Boris Diaw (who Bill Walton absolutely loves, which is huge in my book). The most recognizable name is Tony Parker who is a bonafide all-star.
Germany is by no means a favorite to do a whole lot in this tournament but if we have learned anything while tracking this team is that they rise to any occasion. If you are not familiar with this version of the German national team, it has gone through some severe changeover from the time of Dirk Nowitzki. They decided to inject some youth into the senior team and now have five players under the age of 21. Here is what German head man Dirk Bauermann had to say about today's contest against France:
"Overall you have to be satisfied with how we played. A lot of people thought that we would be a push over here. But we're not and we proved that today. We have to proud of ourselves because we played hard and stuck to the game plan except the final minutes,"
see how Elias performed in Germany's game against France after the jump...
Obviously from that quote you can tell that Germany fell short of France today but it was close. The Germans fell five points short 70-65. Gonzaga's Elias Harris played 11 minutes in the game and was 2/3 from the floor, finishing with four points. He also added two steals and two rebounds for the German team and seemed to play very well within himself. Elias has kind of run the gamete this summer in terms of national play. For his junior national team, he had to be the star along with Robin Benzing. He played most every minute of each game and sometimes struggled in this role. As a part of the senior men's national team, his minutes are limited as it is pretty obvious that Coach Bauermann just wants to get his young players feet wet for what hopefully becomes a long and excellent international career.
We've had people come to the blog and express their concern over Elias' international play and the fact that he isn't with the team in Spokane right now but I couldn't be more excited for what he is doing in Europe. Like we've said before, the best part about all of this international play is that he is playing against professionals and mature players. Going against guys like Ronny Turiaf and showing enough confidence in himself to actually throw up a few shots really impresses me. We've seen players roll through Gonzaga and never develop the confidence to fully show their skill set and I think it is pretty clear that this will not be an issue with Elias. He's got plenty of confidence in his game and will instantly impact Mark Few's team. He's bouncy, athletic, and from our interview with him he is very modest but confident in his skills on the court.
Anyone else feeling as excited for Elias as we are? I know Bol Kong has kind of been the story of the summer but I believe this kid will be the key of the 2009 class. Mangisto Arop and Elias Harris are going to provide a very mature physicality for this class that hasn't been seen at Gonzaga before.