The No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs have jumped out to a quick start this season and are headed to the Old Spice Classic as heavy favorites. Helping their cause was the debut of forward Kelly Olynyk in their first-round game against the Clemson Tigers where he made an immediate impact.
Olynyk was forced to sit the first three games of the season after violating the student code of conduct. The redshirt junior had a shaky start, having his first two shots of the game blocked, but quickly found his rhythm.
The big Canadian finished the game with a game-high 13 points, 3 rebounds, a block and a steal in 24 minutes played. Elias Harris also scored 13 points as Gonzaga pulled out a “grinder” of a game, according to head coach Mark Few.
“It was a very good win for us,” Few said. “We haven’t been in a grinder yet, and we need to experience that. We need to experience being successful in an environment like that.”
A big part of their success this season will hinge on the 7-footer Olynyk, who is still working on getting into the flow of the game. On how he responded after having his first two shots blocked, Olynyk said: “It was kind of like an awakening, but it was good for me. Just tried to pick it up from there.”
And pick it up he did. With Olynyk in the mix, Gonzaga has a pair of 7-footers to go along with the Zags’ player-of-the-year candidate Harris. With the playmaking ability of their front court, Gonzaga can play strong with just about anyone in the country.
The Bulldogs continue their run through the Old Spice Classic against the Oklahoma Sooners today in Orlando.