After six months away from action, Gonzaga men's basketball took to the hardwood for Kraziness in the Kennel on Saturday. This year’s event included a 3-point shootout, intrasquad scrimmage and skills challenge.
But fans quickly noticed something was off right after the player introductions. Where was Killian Tillie?
News broke shortly before the event that the senior forward had undergone knee surgery, according to a statement released by the university.
“It was more of a proactive exercise,” head coach Mark Few said. “It wasn’t like a real injury.”
Few said this procedure should benefit Tillie in the long run and that it was for “maintenance” purposes.
Tillie, who was named to the Preseason All-West Coast Conference team, only appeared in 15 games last season due to a stress fracture in his ankle and a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot.
As for the on-court happenings at Kraziness in the Kennel, this year’s 3-point contest winner was freshman guard Brock Ravet from Kittitas, Washington. Ravet out-shot redshirt senior Admon Gilder in a close championship round. Sophomore forward Filip Petrusev won the skills challenge after displaying his all-around game.
In the intrasquad scrimmage, the blue team defeated the white team 43-23 in the 20-minute game. Gilder led all scorers with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3 of 3 from behind the arc. Junior forward Corey Kispert added 11 points off 4-of-7 shooting as well for the blue team.
“Lot of jitters, for a lot of guys this was their first time playing in front of the fans, so just happy to get out their and log some minutes,” Kispert said.
Those jitters were apparent from the start, as both squads committed a combined 20 turnovers.
“Got to take better care of the ball,” Few said while crediting both team's defense. “They were able to make some defensive plays that we haven’t been able to make in the past.”
Defensively, the blue team set up a full-court press midway through the scrimmage, immediately pressuring the white team into a few turnovers. The blue team scored 21 points off turnovers.
The blue team shot 55.2% for the scrimmage, including 6-of-11 on 3-pointers. It also outscored the white team 14-0 on fast break points.
The offense looked like the standard GU offense under Few: quick passes around the perimeter, pick-and-pops for shooters and passing the ball into the low post for players like Petrusev to score close to the basket.
Freshman forward Drew Timme had his work cut out for him while guarding Petrusev, as both competed for positioning near the basket.
“He’s a great player,” Timme said. “There’s no better person to learn from. He’s been a huge help in teaching me the system.”
Timme is one of new nine players on this year’s roster, which presents a new challenge to Few as a coach.
“We’ve had to really slow down ... teaching the basics of what we’re all about here," Few said.
Veterans like Kispert and Tillie will also be expected to be the leaders of this young Bulldogs team.
“Can’t take any days off,” Kispert said. “There’s no time for me or any of the older guys to take a back seat, and we have to bring it every night."
But basketball is back in the McCarthey Athletic Center, and that is something all Zags fans have been itching for since the end of last season.
The Bulldogs will open the regular season on Nov. 1 vs. Lewis-Clark State in an exhibition at the McCarthey Athletic Center.