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CDC84
10-08-2008, 09:02 AM
Sporting News Preseason Top 25:

#4 Gonzaga – In what could be called “The Zags Decade,” Gonzaga has done everything but this: a Final Four. If the program is to take the next step, though, Austin Daye must cut loose with the full force of his talent – and everybody else in the rotation better enjoy it.

Sporting News Preseason 2008/09 All-America Team, First Team:

Tyler Hansborough – North Carolina

James Harden – Arizona State

Stephen Curry – Davidson

Blake Griffin – Oklahoma

Austin Daye – Gonzaga, 6-10 sophomore forward = When Daye embraces that incidental contact is part of basketball, he’ll become the most dangerous Division I player. That is, presuming it happens while he’s still in college.

----

The CDC Take = I think picking preseason All-America teams involves far more guess work than picking a preseason top 25, and Austin’s presence on the TSN 1st team is proof of that. Nonetheless, I respect Decourcy’s opinion as much as any college basketball analyst who is out there. One reason why I trust his judgment is that he very rarely makes “wild” predictions, but when he does, he is usually right on the mark.

Throughout last season, and all thru the offseason, I have said time and again that the #1 problem with the 2007/08 Gonzaga team was a lack of direction on offense that was the result of the team lacking a go to offensive player. Scoring by committee may work with other programs, but the nature of the Gonzaga offense, as presently run, requires that it be run thru a specific player. That player not only must be very offensively skilled, he must also have a taste for the jugular and be willing to withstand physical play. He has to want to take the big shot. The Zags didn’t have that guy last year, and as a result, Jeremy Pargo had to take the issue into his own hands, which was not ideal because he’s offensively limited due to his poor long range shooting ability. I also feel that the go to threat is ideally someone who plays off the ball. What the Zags needed last year was Austin Daye, but he wasn’t physically and mentally prepared for the task. So you ended up with a team that had a poor offensive efficiency rating (by Gonzaga standards), despite having, in theory, more offensive talent than some of the previous Zag teams that produced better offensive stats.

But 2008/09 is a new season.

Look, if I were constructing preseason All-America list, I probably wouldn’t put Austin on it because I need to see more from him. But what I do know is this: the 2008/09 Zags will go as far as Austin Daye takes them. His education period is over. The Zags are not going to be making a final four unless the offense is run through Daye. The problem is this: while Austin has the necessary mentality to take big shots, and while he might be the most offensively skilled player in Division I basketball, he needs to embrace contact. Decourcy is right on this issue. Embracing contact is what elite scorers have to learn to handle. It’s something that Adam Morrison learned to handle; it’s something that Dan Dickau learned to handle, etc. There is no getting around the fact that teams are going to try to be physical when handling the opponent’s best offensive player. This is especially going to be the case with a guy like Austin, who is skinny and who presents a ton of matchup issues in terms of his unique combination of height, wingspan, quickness, ball handling, and inside/out scoring touch. He's almost impossible to stop one on one if you don't put a body on him. Moreover, Daye also has a reputation for not liking incidental contact. Teams will try to exploit this. I have really come to the belief that this is more of a mental issue with Austin than a physical one. Basketball has plenty of examples of really wiry wings (Reggie Miller, for instance) who were physically weaker than many of their defenders who guarded them but who succeeded due to their mental toughness and willingness to handle incidental contact.

If Austin becomes the go to guy, the surrounding players must embrace it, which, on paper, won’t be an easy task because there are a lot of guys on this team who can score. However, I think they would embrace it. First off, Daye, despite all his talent, is not a divisive personality. He is one of the most well liked players on the team, and his willingness look up to Pendo (the “ultimate” Zag) last season and learn from him is further proof that he is a team oriented player. Secondly, Daye’s teammates will be rewarded for directing the offense through him. Why? Because in addition to being one of college basketball’s most talented scorers, Daye might be the best passing wing/point forward at the Division I level this season. He not only has great court vision and anticipates well, he has tremendous touch on his passes. Where Austin excels is in the high post area. He can see over the top of the defense, which allows him to run high/low plays, as well as kick the ball out to open shooters. One of the reasons why I hope that Heytvelt gets all of his athleticism back is that the Daye to Heytvelt high/low combo could be absolutely lethal. We saw some of it last season, but due to Josh’s bad foot, we only got a taste of what these two guys had to offer. Daye is a tremendous high/low passer - his touch is just fantastic. He allows the big man to seal of his defender, and he puts the ball in the right spot for the easy score. I think Daye’s passing ability is the great neutralizer. He has the capacity to make teams pay for putting too much emphasis on him, and it’s something that I feel could make him into an even more influential player than Adam Morrison was when it comes to winning at the highest level…namely, during the NCAA tournament against college basketball's best teams.

However, there is one big worry I have with all of this, and that is Few’s apparent love of the 3 guard offense. Gonzaga is going to have to do what it can do while Rob Sacre is out, but when Rob returns, gets caught up to game speed and is in good enough shape to play more than a few minutes at a time, I really feel that Daye needs to be playing at the 3. Not only does the 3 guard attack not work against the elite due to Gray and Bouldin playing at the same speed (and neither guy is a speed demon, which makes the idea even worse), but Daye is a perimeter oriented scorer, and he needs to be moving without the basketball and not be stuck underneath the basket. Moreover, he doesn’t need to be getting banged up physically on defense, and he needs to avoid foul problems. Austin can play the four, but Gonzaga will thrive if he’s at the 3. When Sacre gets back, I like a frontcourt of Daye, Downs and Heytvelt. While I’m in favor of playing the twin towers together at times, I think the Zags need a true big man coming off the pine…hence, the reason why I think Sacre shouldn’t start. As for shooting guard.....I tell Bouldin and Gray that the starting spot is up for grabs once Sacre returns. The competition will bring out the best in both players. As for Pargo, he needs to embrace the idea of being the quarterback on this team. He needs to cut down on his turnovers, and realize that Austin can't influence the game unless he gets the ball. I also feel that it is in Jeremy's best interest to play quarterback in terms of enhancing his stock for the next level. Scouts already know about his great body, his toughness, his ability to get to the rim and guard the point of attack. If he can demonstrate his ability to really, really run a team, I think they will be more willing to forgive his long range shooting issues. The 2009 draft is going to be a very poor one, and there won't be many decent point guards in it....Jeremy has a chance to enhance his stock in ways that he might not be able to if he were a part of a different draft.

In sum: this is Austin Daye's team. The team is going as far as he will take them. But he needs to embrace the idea and all of the responsibilities that come with it, and that includes dealing with all of the incidental and deliberate contact that is coming his way. He is a transcendent talent who has a chance to due major damage in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, we probably won't see how great he's capable of being while he's at Gonzaga, but dang it, while GU has him, the Zags must "cut him loose with the full force of his talent," as Decourcy nicely phrases it.

ZagNative
10-08-2008, 09:32 AM
Wow. Post of the year so far! Thanks, CDC84!

Go AUSTIN!

kitzbuel
10-08-2008, 09:42 AM
I think many of us have agreed that the offense needs to run through Daye in order to have focus. He really needs to take advantage of having Matt and Josh as outlets when other teams get overly physical with him. GU offers too many mismatches for there to not be an easy hoop somewhere else if Austin is being manhandled. He has to see that.

Sarenyon
10-08-2008, 09:45 AM
CDC - that was a real HOF post. And more so if your predicitions come true.

I agree fully that Austin would be great at the 3 and really think that him getting 30+ minutes between the 3 and the 4 is the best situation. Once Sacre gets back into game shape, the minutes should be more and more on the side of the 3.

Not a starting line-up at all, but can you imagine these guys on the court together:

Sacre
Josh
Austin
Downs
Pargo

That is a tall and long force to be reckoned with.

BobZag
10-08-2008, 09:52 AM
I can't add much more to that.

Daye has the mentality, the confidence that borders on cockiness, he wants the ball in crunch time or to dominate teams, he has the drive that past Zag go-to greats have had....

Will the staff let him loose? We can only hope.

Go-to guy by committee sounds good, but one true bonafide go-to guy surrounded by guys ready, willing and able to do their part, is my preference, ie...

Adam
JP
Derek

That scoring threesome served us well.

Matt S.
Richie
Casey

&

Dan D.
Blake
Cory/Ronny

This year, in support of Daye...

Daye
Gray
Jeremy
Matt B.
Josh
Micah

The cast of talent this years doubles those casts of the past.

roxdoc
10-08-2008, 10:07 AM
Great analysis CDC - gets my vote for post of year! (Of course the season is early:D )

CaliforniaZaggin'
10-08-2008, 10:18 AM
CDC84 definitely is on my Pre-Season All-American MB Poster team. ;)

MDABE80
10-08-2008, 10:36 AM
Great as usual CDC. Adam could take the incessant pounding....and he had a larger variety of shots than Austin does right now. I have some fear about durability even though I think we're all agreed Austin's best use is more outside thus avoiding the fray.

Nonetheless, if we go back to his first year, Austin was unexpectedly durable even on the inside and he did very well rebounding. Kid is scrappy, long and tall. Even though I'd like to see Josh blossom ( I still have my hopes), Austin gets the nod as the go-to guy because his obvious talent.......and he delivers when he's on the court. Let's hope that bone bruise and small tear are mended.........and stay mended.

Austin MUST get the ball to score. Jeremy MUST be a point guard who distributes for him to be effective. Just SO much talent.... on this team.......most ever I know of. Few's biggest job is to run that offense so it blends.

ZagMania
10-08-2008, 10:36 AM
I have no personal knowledge, but are people worried that Austin's injury is going to affect his play at least at the start of the season? He may be ready for the first practice, but that doesn't mean his conditioning will be there.

I feel like we sometimes forget that players need some time to get in playing shape. Everyone expected Josh to be the same player last year immediately coming back from his injury. Hopefully Daye will have plenty of time to get up to speed before the season starts.

Once and Future Zag
10-08-2008, 10:47 AM
This year's team has a chance to be relentless with the hammer and anvil of Daye and Heytvelt and the fire of Pargo.

Pray to whatever deities you have an in with that there are no more significant injuries - and that Rob, Austin, and Josh all have great healing.

And get ready for a special year :-)

CDC84
10-08-2008, 10:48 AM
The Sporting News Preseason Magazine arrived in stores on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

jim77
10-08-2008, 11:05 AM
Nice post CDC.

I guess the only thing I'd disagree on is the part: "This team only going as far as Austin can take it". No doubt Austin creates MAJOR headaches with his size/skill. But, JP and JH also create MAJOR headaches and mismatches...and don't leave SG open either as he is one of the best 3ers in the country. I don't want this team going 1 demensional when it doesn't need to. Fortunately, as pointed out by CDC, Austin is a really good passer and will not pass on an open man to force a shot. I think what makes the 08-09 Zags so dangerous is the fact that every trip up the court there will be mismatches...not just Austin. The real key to how far we go will be Pargo's ability to exploit the situation.

GUZagDenver
10-08-2008, 11:21 AM
I would agree, that post almost covers everything. I think a go-to guy is definitely something that we have lacked since AMo left. I thought it was going to be Bouldin, but he is not able to take over games against good defenders, only the sub-par WCC defenders. If Heytvelt can come back to 06-07 form, we will be long and athletic up-front, with a GREAT point guard, and good supporting cast with Downs and Gray.

cggonzaga
10-08-2008, 11:34 AM
I don't want this team going 1 demensional when it doesn't need to.

I don't think CDC was saying that at all. The one thing this team lacked last season was a "go to" guy. We have many players that can give any team on any given night fits. What we didn't have was that one guy that could step up in clutch time. I'm not just talking about the end of the game. There wasn't that guy that if we were in a bit of a scoring drought could shoot us out of it. There wasn't that guy that when a bit of panic maybe set in, we could give the ball to to calm everyone down. Austin is that person and needs to be that person this year. So I agree, we go as far as Austin takes us.

The issue I disagree on is the whole physicality issue. I'm sure this is not an issue Austin hasn't dealt with throughout his whole career. This game can be played with finesse and if Austin tries to change into a more physical player I think it will change him as the player we know him as. Ammo was always a physical player and much stronger than his body looks, that is not Austin. Stephen Curry is very successful avoiding contact. Yes, he is going to have to get used to the contact but no I don't think he needs to "embrace" it. He just needs to play his game and he'll be a star. I agree Austin needs to be playing the 3 and think it's a crime if he doesn't this year. His inside out game from the 3 would be killer.

hockeyzag
10-08-2008, 11:49 AM
Phenomenal post CDC, agree 100%

Nevtelen
10-08-2008, 12:11 PM
Fantastic post, CDC.

I agree that I'm not a fan of the 3-guard offense and I hope it doesn't show up this year. However, if Austin plays the 3, who then would be the 4 much of the time - Micah? I'm not sure Micah can handle that, though maybe I'm wrong. At times, yes, there might be Josh and Sacre out there (if everything works out well with the healing, etc), but I doubt both will play the majority of many games together. Who else is there, really who can perform well enough to influence the front-court?

TacomaZAG
10-08-2008, 12:28 PM
CDC, especially with the reference to the 3-guard offense. Roxdoc had a post on a different thread recently talking about players ability to slide over to a new spot, where they can play but it is not optimal. This is especially true with Daye and the 3 versus the 4. Your excellent point on Daye's passing ability makes him even more lethal at the 3, given the fact that opposing teams will have to guard him one-on-one (good luck) with a small forward, as Daye will shred a double team with his passing.

I would like to see Rob get more minutes than coming off the bench will allow, as when Rob is in it allows Josh to slide back to the 4, where he is much more comfortable and more difficult to defend. Your point about having a serviceable 5 coming off the bench is a good one, maybe Will can fill that need for 5-10 minutes a game after Rob's return?????

Anyway, very high praise for Austin. Hopefully, coach will turn him loose this year so he can live up to it. The more we can have Austin and Josh on the floor at the same time at the 3 and 4, the better off we will be. I realize we can't do that consistently until Rob returns but maybe Will can get some minutes until that happens. For us to be an elite team, the 3-guard offense needs to be scrapped, at least as the preferred rotation. Major minutes for Pargo (1), Gray/Bouldin (2), Daye (3), Josh (4) and Rob (5), with Micah and Will off the bench may lead us deep in March. With the 3-guard offense we have very little chance of going beyond the first weekend, as in that rotation Matt, Josh, and Austin are all playing out of position.

Go ZAGS

BobZag
10-08-2008, 04:58 PM
During Sacre's absence, or, heaven forbid, he doesn't fully heal this year, I wonder if the staff would (or could) consider a Phoenix Suns style offense (pre-Shaq) where there's no true center, just forwards and guards. And run (and press) like hell.

LongIslandZagFan
10-09-2008, 06:31 AM
During Sacre's absence, or, heaven forbid, he doesn't fully heal this year, I wonder if the staff would (or could) consider a Phoenix Suns style offense (pre-Shaq) where there's no true center, just forwards and guards. And run (and press) like hell.

That would be fun as hell to watch and I think we have the goods to do it.

jazzdelmar
10-09-2008, 06:51 AM
All this preseason hype puts an awful lotta pressure on Few. Heretofore, he hasn't exactly grabbed this kind of opportunity with confidence and gusto. We shall see.....And I'm not talking about beating Portland State by 40, beating Santa Clara in their own place or an upset in an offshore tourney............I'm talking the Dance.

zag67
10-09-2008, 07:46 AM
Depending how long it takes Bob to return, I will agree with acouple of the previous people about the forward/guard press.

I think that this year we do have a team that can do this. We have the long arms of Austin, Micah, and Josh. We have speed and hops in people like Pargo, Meech, Gray, and Ira. We have many ball handlers and passers from people like pargo, bouldin, gray, daye, gibbs, and micah. Also we have many people that could do a good job in the defensive and rebounding end of the court.

I would agree that it would be fun to watch. Against some teams this may not work, but their are many teams that this could cause a lot of caos.

CDC84
10-09-2008, 09:28 AM
One problem with pressing is that the further you go along in the NCAA tournament, the less effective pressing becomes due to the fact that the better teams have guard play that can handle it, and, in many cases, exploit it. Pressing teams need to keep their focus on playing solid halfcourt defense so that when the press is rendered useless, they have something to fall back upon. Memphis last year was a good pressing team, but their halfcourt defense was good as well. Tennessee under Bruce Pearl has had problems defending the halfcourt when teams have been able to handle their press. You need both.

rennis
10-09-2008, 09:32 AM
Great post CDC.

ZagNative
10-10-2008, 05:33 AM
CDC84's great post needs another day on page 1! And the thread does need a pic of Austin!


http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff232/ZagNative/Zags/Austin%20Daye/2007-12-29AustinTennesseeputsupasho.jpg

LAZAGFAN11
10-10-2008, 12:43 PM
Thanks CDC for that. As far as 08-09 is concerned, I keep looking back and watching last years team play and something just seems to be missing. The guys, for as talented as they were, didn't play together as a team. It felt more individualistic out there. At times, Daye and Bouldin shot too much. Sometimes, nobody would shoot and Pargo would have to create his own shot. I think there was just no established go to guy. More than anything else, that is what concerns me most about 08-09 (aside from injuries). The lack of a go-to presence on the floor which produces confusion and overall disoriented offensive flow.

We have a lot of NBA talent out there this year, however, if they don't play as a cohesive unit, this team will disappoint again. The guys have to learn how to play for each other and play better together in order to reach that elite level.

ZagNative
11-21-2008, 11:59 AM
Right behind #1, Blake Griffin! Posted Nov. 14, but I don't recall seeing it elsewhere on the board, and posting here is a good excuse to bump CDC84's outstanding thread.

2. Austin Daye, Gonzaga (http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=486173). It feels really weird to be ranking Daye at this position, but it's kind of where he'll play for the Zags this season, so it only seemed right to place him in this column. But Daye's is the game of a small forward. He has a terrific mid-range game, is a creative scorer and is a superb 3-point shooter. If he plays anything like a power forward -- if he grows comfortable with contact and battles for rebounds -- he won't be around the college game much longer and Gonzaga will last long into March. Maybe April.