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Four corners notebook: Local talent gives San Diego a boost

Jim Meehan And Jim Allen

San Diego’s annual visit to the McCarthey Athletic Center is old hat for Bill Grier, a Gonzaga assistant for 16 years before becoming the Toreros’ head coach seven years ago.

It’ll be a newer experience for the Toreros’ Chris Sarbaugh, who helped Gonzaga Prep win the 2011 4A state title, and Brett Bailey, a former University High standout.

Sarbaugh, a former Gonzaga walk-on who played at North Idaho College last season, has worked his way into USD’s rotation. He’s averaging 5.4 points and 20.4 minutes in WCC games. He’s reached double figures in two of San Diego’s last five games, including a season-high 12 points vs. Pepperdine. He has 25 assists, tied for second on the team.

“He doesn’t do a lot of stat-stuffing things,” Grier said. “He does a little of everything and he has a good feel for how to play. He can guard multiple guys; that’s an area he’s really helped us. I think he’s kind of a winner and he does whatever it takes.”

The 6-foot-6 Bailey is averaging 2.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 13.2 minutes. He started two games earlier in conference but has returned to coming off the bench. Bailey scored a season-high seven points against Morgan State in the third game of the season.

“He’s the only freshman, and like all freshmen they have struggles and he’s going through it by himself,” Grier said. “He has so much ability. His confidence is down a little bit but he’s had some flashes. He played really well at Santa Clara but he struggled at San Francisco. At (Tuesday’s) practice he was great.

“We’re kind of waiting for that one game for him to break out,” Grier added.

Eagles make change

Key reserve Ogjnen Miljkovic will start at post tonight for Eastern Washington against Southern Utah, Eagles coach Jim Hayford said.

“We are a little harder to guard that way,” said Hayford of a change that will send 6-foot-10 junior Martin Seiferth to the bench.

Hayford added that the 6-7 Miljkovic is almost fully recovered from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for several weeks, ending with last week’s road trip to Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.

Miljkovic, a true freshman from Belgrade, Serbia, averages 7.6 points and 3.5 rebounds. He’s played in 11 of the Eagles’ 17 games. “Our offensive efficiency was really good with OJ in the first 10 games of the year,” Hayford said.

Hayford said he hopes the change will “help Martin see the game better, then come in and adjust.”

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