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View Full Version : " Why You Should Still be Surprised by Gonzaga" - BasketballState.com



ZagNative
12-07-2008, 08:45 AM
I was going to add this story I found on basketballstate.com (http://www.bbstate.com/features/12) to the Indiana post-game story thread from yesterday, but the story really isn't about the Indiana game (it was dated December 5), and I think it's a good one

John Gasaway
John is a contributor to Basketball Prospectus, co-author of BBP's 2008-09 season guide, and formerly the founder of Big Ten Wonk

....
Then again you probably already had a fair idea that Gonzaga's had a pretty good decade here. Why re-re-spotlight the Bulldogs now? Two reasons....

First, Few has of late shown a laudable and all too rare ability to morph his program on the fly. Gonzaga was successful in the Adam Morrison years thanks to an outstanding offense. Those same Bulldog teams, however, were limited by a defense that was, at best, average, one that allowed a goodly number of made shots by opponents.

How remote that era must seem to fans at the Kennel 2.0 in 2008. Morrison is a Charlotte Bobcat and 5-0 Gonzaga now simply refuses to allow opponents to score.

In fact, if (very) early-season trend lines are any indication, the 'Zags may well have one of the best defenses in the country this year. They say you can't coach height and in Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt (both 6-11), and Micah Downs (6-8), Few has an embarrassment of non-coachable riches in his starting lineup. As a result, Gonzaga's opponents this season have made just 38 percent of their twos, a level of interior defense usually seen only from the likes of Kansas or Connecticut.

Far be it from me to repeat history's mistakes by making any airy predictions that this year's 'Zags are bound for Detroit. (Besides, any team's likelihood of making the Final Four this year will hinge first and foremost on being put in a regional that does not include North Carolina.) But let it be fairly said of this team that they look more than equal to the task of giving Connecticut a game when the Huskies visit Seattle on December 20.

Which brings me to the second reason for highlighting Gonzaga's success: Who could have possibly seen this coming? We walk around and act like it's normal for a WCC team in Spokane to have attracted a thin but steady trickle of NBA-level talent for a decade now. Why should we find this normal?

Something about the gradual appearance of the extraordinary fools us into thinking what we're looking at is ordinary. We should know better and offer a salute to Mark Few.

MickMick
12-07-2008, 09:25 AM
The Zags have changed and it is tough for us to change as well. We Zag fans are simply not accustomed to "winning ugly". It happens occasionally, usually in league play, but it is not the norm.

I have to correct myself when evaluating our team play. A block is as good as a made shot. A steal is as good as a dunk. Offensive highlights motivate us. Defensive highlights deflate them.

In "ugly" games, the risk/reward is smaller. The opponents will be in more games at the end. It is critical that you have a guy you can go to for the clutch basket.

This is the beauty of the current Zag team. They have several "go to" guys to shoot the ball in the clutch. And when "push comes to shove", the Zags have extended leads midway through the second half.

This is a winning style we often see between highly competitive teams in March. This is what we saw Tennessee do against Georgetown in the Old Spice Classic. This is what we have seen the Zags do in almost every competitive game this season.

sittingon50
12-07-2008, 09:31 AM
Nice find Native. Good to get another perspective from "outside."

Might be a good one to repost after "another disappointing" performance.

ZagNative
12-07-2008, 09:45 AM
I have to correct myself when evaluating our team play. A block is as good as a made shot. A steal is as good as a dunk. Offensive highlights motivate us. Defensive highlights deflate them.

In "ugly" games, the risk/reward is smaller. The opponents will be in more games at the end. It is critical that you have a guy you can go to for the clutch basket.

This is the beauty of the current Zag team. They have several "go to" guys to shoot the ball in the clutch. And when "push comes to shove", the Zags have extended leads midway through the second half.

This is a winning style we often see between highly competitive teams in March. This is what we saw Tennessee do against Georgetown in the Old Spice Classic. This is what we have seen the Zags do in almost every competitive game this season.:clap:

Perhaps my favorite line from that story:
First, Few has of late shown a laudable and all too rare ability to morph his program on the fly.

Radbooks
12-07-2008, 10:16 AM
Thanks, ZagNative! A very nice read for a Sunday morning.

zagfan07
12-07-2008, 11:28 AM
Pargo creates points indirectly but no less effectively, hoarding assists in this offense like a letter-day version of WCC alum Steve Nash.


Who would have ever thought Jeremy Pargo would be getting comparisons to Steve Nash? It just shows how far he's come in his 4 years at GU, and yet another addition to Coach Few's incredible reputation for being able to turn out great guard after great guard.

ZagNative
12-08-2008, 02:43 PM
This time on BasketballProspectus.com (http://basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=469) ...


December 8, 2008
A Modest Proposal
UNC to the NBA!

by John Gasaway

I had planned to recap the North Carolina/Michigan State game last week, but I came to the conclusion that there's precious little value in recapping a 98-63 implosion. Even that lopsided final score didn't begin to capture the totality of the dominance visited upon Tom Izzo's team in the weirdly somnambulant expanses of Detroit's Ford Field last Wednesday night.

The Spartans, to steal from Hemingway, collapsed in two ways: gradually and then suddenly. ...

...

Rather than rake the ashes of this particular blowout, then, I resolved to look ahead and ask a question. One that, as it happens, is put to me on a daily basis: can North Carolina be beaten?

Yes! Assuming my proposal to relocate the Tar Heels into the NBA is the first order of business taken up by our new and laudably sports-conversant president on January 20. Otherwise?

Otherwise, I wish to refocus the question. Believe me, I understand the interest in run-the-table discussions. While running the table was an occasional event back in the '60s and '70s, it hasn't happened now in 33 years. It's a legitimate object of speculation and I will do my fair share of speculating here this season, promise.

Still, let's not lose sight of the obvious. North Carolina could get tripped up at Wake Forest (January 11), at Miami (February 11), at Duke (February 15) or, heck, even at home…and they would still be the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship in Detroit in April.
Speaking of Connecticut, what about the Huskies this year? They look scary to everyone but Buffalo, right? Could they hang with North Carolina? I don't know yet. Last year UConn's offense was much better than commonly realized (even better than Notre Dame's in-conference) but their defense was much worse. Yes, Hasheem Thabeet blocks shots. That, however, was all this team had to offer on defense last year. As a result, there were no less than seven Thabeet-less Big East teams that actually played better defense in-conference in 2008.

Besides--at the risk of belaboring the obvious--to beat Carolina, Connecticut will first have to make it that far in the tournament. To make it that far, Jim Calhoun's team would be well advised to repeat last year's excellent offense (no small feat) while improving their D significantly. I will be watching very closely and will keep you posted. Meanwhile, don't sleep on other potential Davids to this year's Goliath. (Gonzaga anyone?)