View Full Version : Meehan's Nov. 29 Blog "Gonzaga, Tennessee hook up for title"

11-29-2008, 10:06 PM
Posted by Jim
at 5:50 PM on 29 Nov (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/sportslink/archive/?postID=8811)

During the Gonzaga-Maryland basketball game Friday night, gregarious Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl sat courtside at The Milk House, signed an occasional autograph and posed for a photo with a couple of fans. He did a quick TV interview.

Otherwise, his eyes were glued to the court. He scribbled down a note or two and chatted with his assistant coaches as the Bulldogs dismantled Maryland 81-59 to advance to tonight’s Old Spice Classic championship against Pearl’s Volunteers on Sunday.

“I have a new team, a lot of new guys,” he said in the game’s closing minutes with the outcome long decided. “That’s a (Gonzaga) team that has a lot of those guys back, a lot of experience. They’re really dominating Maryland on the boards. They look like they’re comfortable playing together.

“It’s awfully difficult to play as hard as a Maryland team and Gonzaga has absolutely done that.”
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – They met last December in Seattle. They’ll square off tonight for the Old Spice Classic championship. And they’ll tangle again in January in Knoxville.

Yes, this is a little strange for No. 9 Gonzaga and No. 12 Tennessee.

“I didn’t want to play Mark (Few, Gonzaga coach) in the first place (in Seattle),” said gregarious Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, as he sat courtside watching Gonzaga dismantle Maryland 81-59 in Friday’s semifinals at The Milk House. “Mark was scrambling because he had a cancellation. We played one of our better games that day, Mark knows that.

“We both said, ‘Look, let’s meet in the championship game and just deal with it’ because we’ll both be glad to get to the title game. It’ll be another chess match. Both teams will look at what the other did well and anticipate the adjustments that need to be made.”

Not that Pearl would mind the rematch playing out the same way as the Battle in Seattle. In that one, Tennessee’s relentless pressure and quickness led to 18 Bulldog turnovers and a 28-11 edge in points off turnovers. Tennessee won, 82-72.

Tennessee’s key holdovers are 6-foot-7 Tyler Smith, who is a matchup nightmare, 6-7 J.P. Prince and 6-9 center Wayne Chism. A highly touted freshmen class includes Scotty Hopson, Emmanuel Negedu and Renaldo Woolridge, son of former NBA center Orlando Woolridge.
“For sure they’re going to be quick, athletic and flying around all the time, but I think we’ve matured as a team,” guard Steven Gray said. “I think we’ve shown we’re not the same team we were last year. We have a little more toughness to us, a little more under control.”

And, as Pearl saw with his own eyes Friday, they have a healthy Josh Heytvelt, who torched Maryland for 22 points. Heytvelt played well in the Battle in Seattle, with 12 points in 24 minutes in just his second game back from ankle surgery.

“I’m just looking forward to it,” Heytvelt said. “They’re scrappy, they poke and slap and do all those kinds of things to play their game.”

Pearl agreed, to a point.

“One thing we did last year was our ball pressure,” he said. “We’re just not able to pressure the ball, we’re not as quick.” That didn’t seem to be the case against Georgetown, which coughed up 20 turnovers.

Gonzaga is chasing its first tournament title since winning the BB&T Classic in 2003 (beating Maryland and George Washington). The Zags haven’t won a three-game tournament since knocking off Tulsa, Mississippi State and No. 5 Clemson to win the Top of the World Classic in 1997, considered by many as the launching point for GU on the national scene.Read the rest of Jim's blog here (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/sportslink/archive/?postID=8811), which is a look back at last year's B.I.S. and John Blanchette's colum about last year's game.

11-29-2008, 10:46 PM
Gonzaga is chasing its first tournament title since winning the BB&T Classic in 2003 (beating Maryland and George Washington).Pics from that game ...

Blake Stepp ...

Cory Violette ...

A very young Adam Morrison ..

Errol Knight ..

And ...

11-29-2008, 10:47 PM
Ronny Turiaf

Not pictured: Richard Fox, Kyle Bankhead, Tony Skinner ...

Great players all ..