It’s become a practice ritual for Powell to challenge Gonzaga’s bigs to hit 10 consecutive free throws. If the bigs come through, Powell and Batista drop and do 25 pushups. If they fail, the bigs are the ones doing pushups.
Nearly two years later, Mick Cronin still hasn’t watched the video of Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs’ 40-footer at the buzzer that handed the Bruins a 93-90 overtime loss at the 2021 Final Four in Indianapolis. The Bruins’ fourth-year head coach watched video of that instant classic and Gonzaga’s 83-63 rout over UCLA last season at T-Mobile Arena, but he froze the image after Johnny Juzang scored on a putback with 3.3 seconds remaining. “You mean that shot?” Cronin said. “I studied the game (Monday night). I hit the pause as soon as we tied it. What do I need to watch that for – you think I’m a masochist?”
Drew Timme has known UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. for years, dating back to their days as prep standouts. They were roommates at the Ballislife All-American game and caught up at the ESPYS when Gonzaga’s pulsating 93-90 overtime against the Bruins in the 2021 Final Four won “Best Game” award. Their friendship is taking Thursday night off when third-seeded Gonzaga tangles with No. 2 UCLA at T-Mobile Arena.
It’s become a popular route for Gonzaga players upon checking out of games. They’ll trade words with Mark Few. They’ll go down the line of folding chairs exchanging high-fives and fist bumps with teammates. Finally, they’ll stop at the end of the bench and pull up a seat next to the team’s first-year student assistant.
The Zags have certainly seen the nastier side of social media, which presents a double-edged sword for student-athletes. They’ve grown up in the social media age, so they’re accustomed to adoration that typically follows a good performance and biting criticism that rolls in if they or their team have a subpar showing. No topic appears to be off limits.