Friday, January 22, 2010

Elias Harris and FOY

The great John Wall's shadow spans this vast continent. Its reach is felt even in Spokane, where a guy named Elias Harris is playing. See, if this year were any other year than the year of Wall, we would have a fairly interesting Freshman of the Year race. As it is, it's going to John Wall, likely along with Player of the Year honors. If you'll humor me for a moment and take a step into the twilight zone, a place where maybe the above statement is not a foregone conclusion, I will present to you the case of Elias Harris.

This 6'7 freshman forward for Gonzaga is good. Really good. I'm definitely not the first to say this, and I certainly won't be the last. The Bulldogs had a brutal four game stretch on the road, kicked of at Illinois and then continuing into the start of conference play at Portland, at St. Mary's and at San Diego. Elias averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds a game in those contests. Harris is filling a lot of voids for Gonzaga this year and is one of the major reasons they haven't experienced a drop off and are favorites again in the West Coast Conference. Remember how this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Zags? Not anymore.

Last night, Gonzaga got all it could handle from a Pepperdine squad who was battling for sole possession of first place in the conference. Gonzaga won, 91 to 84. Credit Matt Bouldin, who came up big with 32 points. But the contribution from Harris, 20 points and 13 rebounds, was that of a calm veteran, not a freshman. His game and poise have matured tremendously since the start of the season. Though even early in the season, when Gonzaga lost to MSU, Harris still came through with a monster performance. He scored 17 and got 9 boards, in the Breslin Center, in his second college game ever. Next year, he'll likely be playing in the NBA. And, he likely would have had a shot at Freshman of the Year. That is, if this wasn't the year of Wall.

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