Senior point guard Josh Perkins off to healthy start for Gonzaga at Kraziness in the Kennel
This was Josh Perkins’ fifth Kraziness in the Kennel, but he was probably the most excited Zag on the court Saturday.
“As soon as I got that news that I was good to go,” Perkins said, “October 6th couldn’t come fast enough.”
The senior guard is returning from shoulder surgery, a lengthy process that kept him off the court and out of the weight room for a large chunk of the offseason.
Perkins’ right shoulder passed an early test Saturday in front of a packed house of 6,000 – and a couple hundred more standing in the concourses – at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
That was the biggest takeaway during the hour-long festivities, which took some doing because Brandon Clarke was a presence defensively and showed some offensive punch and Zach Norvell Jr. didn’t forget how to score over the offseason.
Perkins drilled a bunch of 3s in the 3-point contest. He made the White team’s first two baskets in a 15-minute scrimmage, one on a contested layup and the other a pretty reverse layup. About 90 seconds later, the senior guard buried a 3-pointer.
“I would say I’m full go as far as playing,” Perkins said, “but I still have to get some strength. I’m not really lifting yet. As far as being on the court, I’m going to give it my all, just like the last five years.”
Perkins finished with a team-high 10 points for the White, which lost to the Blue 30-22.
“It (surgery) knocked him down for quite a while but he’s bounced back pretty good,” coach Mark Few said. “He still has little twinges and tweaks, I think the scar tissue is kind of getting jostled around in there, but so far so good.”
Perkins is currently the only experienced point guard on the roster. That figures to change in the next 10 days or so as North Dakota transfer Geno Crandall appears to be on track to finish his degree and become immediately eligible as a grad transfer.
“I can barely tell (Perkins) isn’t at his full speed,” said Clarke, the springy 6-foot-8 transfer from San Jose State who won the dunk contest for the second straight year. “He’s probably around 85 percent right now, but it’s always cool to see a teammate go through that process and come back from it.”
Crandall, a 6-4 combo guard, plans to enroll for Gonzaga’s B Session graduate classes, which begin Oct. 23.
“He needs to graduate, that’s why they’re called graduate transfers,” Few said. “He’s getting close. We knew it was going to be hard all along with the amount of credits, but he’s worked really hard.
“I think we’re getting close. The plan is obviously he’s going to be here, suited up and ready to go. He’ll have to cram quickly on all our offensive and defensive things, but there’s been massive communication through this whole process.”
Clarke, who sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules, had eight points, four rebounds and three blocked shots for the Blue team. He limited Rui Hachimura, listed on a couple of preseason All-America teams, to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
“Going up against him is hard,” Clarke said. “He’s so strong and quick and fast, too. I have to go hard, bring my best or I’ll look bad. It’s fun having that challenge every day.
“Blocking shots is one of my favorite things to do. It’s always good when you can get some on him, but he always finds a way to get me back.”
Eight Japanese media members were on hand to chronicle the beginning of Hachimura’s junior season. He sat out the dunk contest with a sore knee.
Norvell led all scorers with 12 points. He added two assists and two of the Blue’s eight blocks.
Norvell outlasted Perkins earlier in an entertaining 3-point contest. The sophomore guard from Chicago edged Killian Tillie in the opening round while Perkins defeated freshman Filip Petrusev.
Both Zag guards were white hot in the 45-second final, especially in the closing seconds as the crowd kept count with each made shot. They both hit 13. They both missed in a one-shot tiebreaker before Norvell hit the winner in the next round.
“I couldn’t see it but I just heard the numbers counting up super quick and it was, ‘Snacks’ (Norvell’s nickname) must have got hot again,’ ” Perkins said. “He made the dagger in overtime. Another big shot for Snacks.”