Believe it or not, Gonzaga’s annual Kraziness in the Kennel has often been newsy as well as entertaining through the years.
The public first learned of Killian Tillie’s knee surgery last October and Jacob Larsen’s exit from the program in 2018 at the Zags’ annual tip-off event.
Kraziness was also where Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge (2019), Josh Perkins (2018) and Przemek Karnowski (2016) demonstrated during the scrimmage that they were back, or at least well on the road to recovery, from off-season surgeries.
Kraziness on Thursday offered another example as sophomore forward Anton Watson, who missed the second half of last season following shoulder surgery, showed he’s healthy.
Here are three Kraziness takeaways with a reminder not to go too crazy over a 16-minute scrimmage.
Suggs, as advertised
Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga’s prized recruit, more than looked the part.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound freshman delivered the scrimmage’s biggest highlight: a monster dunk in transition on fellow freshman Dominick Harris.
“It’s just a sneak peek of what he can do,” said senior wing Corey Kispert, who finished with 14 points. “He’s a special athlete, gets up high in the air, and he’s fearless, too. That half the battle. When the ball goes up, he’s a super fierce competitor and that’s something everybody can learn from.”
Suggs took over down the stretch, scoring 10 of the White team’s last 19 points in a 45-36 win over the Blue. During that span, Suggs offered a glimpse of his versatility, hitting a jump shot and 3-pointer, getting loose in transition for the dunk and adding a three-point play on a drive down the right side of the lane.
Suggs and grad transfer Aaron Cook shared White point guard duties. Suggs finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Cook was solid with a 3-pointer, five points, four assists, two blocks and one steal.
“He missed some shots early – he’s been shooting the ball really well,” coach Mark Few said of Suggs. “He was banged up at the start of camp. He’s been practicing a lot more and it’s really starting to show. He’s a quick learner, aggressive by nature. I would say he’s one of those guys that made a jump this last week.”
Sophomore forward Drew Timme is poised to add his name to the program’s long list of elite big men. He backed up an elite post, Filip Petrusev, last season, but Timme’s per-minute production was impressive.
Timme’s stats could soar as the main man, provided he can stay out of foul trouble. He looked unstoppable at times, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He drove around defenders and on two plays essentially drove through Kispert and backup center Pavel Zakharov.
Timme also connected on a couple of mid-range jumpers, which should make his dribble moves even tougher to defend.
“Obviously I’m a post, I love playing in the post,” Timme said. “I’m not going to lose that, but having the ability to step out if that’s what the game presents, I believe that I have the confidence from everyone to do it. That’s a nice feeling to have.”
Watson has been working on his jumper and it looked smooth, too. He swished a face-up 17-footer over Zakharov and a 3-point attempt rattled in-and-out. He also had a pair of hard drives to the rim but wasn’t able to finish.
The annual dunk contest was called off, much to Timme’s dismay. He said he was ready and showed as much with several impressive slams during warm-ups.
“I think I was going to surprise a lot of people,” he said.
Ballo ready to ball
Oumar Ballo, coming off an academic redshirt year, appears to have the inside track at backing up Timme.
The 7-foot, 260-pound native of Mali had three field goals, one rebound and one block in roughly 11 minutes. The 7-foot Zakharov played five minutes and contributed one point, two boards and an assist.
“This team desperately needs (Ballo) as our best rim protector, his low-block game is starting to come together,” Few said. “He’s worked really hard on that (with assistant coach Roger Powell Jr.). We need him to be a better rebounder than he’s been showing and hopefully that will start coming to fruition.
Few said Ballo is in the best shape of his life.
“Jalen and Julian (Strawther) and Dom, everybody gets their focus on the freshmen,” Few said. “Oumar is a freshman and young, very young and very young to the game. He’s so much younger to the game than them. He’s made some real strides here, especially in the last 2-3 weeks.”