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MDS03
03-19-2007, 06:40 AM
I do agree that this year's team was a bridge, and like Bobzag and others have said, this was the consensus as early as last April. However, I have one lingering question about the Zags: tournament preparation - or lack thereof.

I don't mean to disregard all of the talk about the Zags being mentally drained this year - I agree that they were. But for the last several years the Zags never really seem to come ready to attack in the tourney. Instead they seem to play not to lose. With all of the talk about difficult schedules to prep for the tournament, I just haven't seen that payoff yet.

I think the evidence speaks for itself: This year - mentally drained, but also played the worst game of the year. Last year - didn't really dominate either Xavier or IU and didn't close out UCLA - played not to lose. Previous years: Texas Tech loss (much like UCLA) - played not to lose; Nevada loss - disaster; Wyoming - disaster.

The reality for all teams is that there will be down years in the tournament - it's the nature of the event. Talent can get you to the Sweet 16 (look at last year); but how can we even bring up Final Four when there has been very little evidence that come tournament time the Zags have the killer instinct needed to make it to the late rounds? So my question is: what will it take for the Zags to be more like a Michigan State - always tough, no matter what the talent level is?

roxdoc
03-19-2007, 06:44 AM
A very legitimate observation and question. What changes in preparation need to be made?

beatProgram
03-19-2007, 06:55 AM
Honestly the last 5 games or so of this year I really thought the guys had found it... until the NCAA Tourney came around that is.

Of course everyone already knows that it's a mystery to me why none of what was coming together for the guys was utilized in the tourney, and instead was replaced with a formula that combined confusing untested elements with elements proven not to work from the mid-portion of the season.

J-Lo hit the nail on the head in my opinion. Once the tourney comes around the coaching staff takes a VERY conservative approach to their gameplan. The exceptions to the rule have been when some player claws outside of that and brings that level of intensity regardless of the coaching. Casey Calvary, Tony Skinner, etc.

TexasZagFan
03-19-2007, 07:29 AM
A very legitimate observation and question. What changes in preparation need to be made?

Shooting more layups in practice? ;)

With 200+ victories to his credit, I'm not going to question the way Coach Few prepares his teams. What I would like to see for next year is curtailing the minutes on our key players. Pargo & DRav were playing 35 minutes plus per game. I understand that was out of necessity, but we shouldn't have the same depth issues next year.

I was surprised at the "deer in the headlights" looks from Bouldin, Downs, and Kuso, considering the schedule we played this year. How does coaching fix that?

Take away the 5-10 night from Pendo, and the rest of the team shot less than 30%. Combine that with being outboarded by 15, and that spells "one-and-done".

McZag
03-19-2007, 07:50 AM
I have noticed this as well and have been trying to analyze what makes our team chemistry different from other programs in February and early March.

If you remember back to 98-99, the Zags played 10 players and struggled at times in November and December to lfind the right balance in the guards (Floyd, Frahm, Santangelo, Hall). There were big wins in those months including beating UW but the team was still trying to gel going into league play. Through Jan and Feb the team unit played better and better together and were truly playing their best ball in Feb leading up to the WCC tourney and the NCAA.

Because of the weakness of our league, the coaches have had to schedule the toughest games of the year very early in the season. This requires the team to gel faster and focus harder early. The team subsiquently has had a fair amount of success in November and December (enough to hopefully ensure an at-large bid should the fail to win the WCC). But expends a ton of mental energy months before the peak of the season, March.

Then the team settles in for along very difficult and boring run through the WCC. After facing Amercia's finest for 2 months, they face some of America's worst for 2 months. This unbalanced scheduling does not help the team gel and come together in late Feb and March. They rally in the WCC and granted the team has looked great in the WCC for several years now. But they seem tired and relieved just to get the WCC over.

BCS schools get to play cupcakes for the most part in November and December, and then use their grueling conference schedules to improve for the NCAA. They play their most talented and challenging opponents in Feb, not December.

March is the peak time of the season, not Nov, Dec, or Jan. Top teams try to play their absolute best at the END of the season, not the beginning.

This whole line of thinking is just opinion and an effort to make sense of the body of work that leads us into March every year.

I truly believe that the WCC gives us a false sense of acheivement, accomplishment and security year in and year out and does a poor job of preparing the team sufficiently for the NCAA's.

The problem is, I have no idea what to do about it. Again just opinion.

TexasZagFan
03-19-2007, 08:25 AM
The problem is, I have no idea what to do about it. Again just opinion.

The answer to your question lies with the 7 Dwarves, but you knew that. As long as the other schools are content with mediocrity, and accepting their equal share of the NCAA $$$ generated by Gonzaga, then the status quo will remain. As much as we derided SCU for the way Davey was forced out, those backing his ouster have ample justification for saying "I told you so" for the way SCU finished.

I think our AD and staff are doing the right thing, by scheduling a couple of OOC games during conference play, such as Memphis & Stanford.

gamagin
03-19-2007, 09:28 AM
<< But for the last several years the Zags never really seem to come ready to attack in the tourney. Instead they seem to play not to lose. With all of the talk about difficult schedules to prep for the tournament, I just haven't seen that payoff yet.>>

My belief is we can grow into our new roles as perennial NCAA contenders, but only if the coaches and the players begin their season with the goal of making the National championship, or the final four, or something other than just making it in the door.

There are many stories about aiming too low. Getting there, the struggle, JH, injuries, the setbacks, the wasted energy, the newfound strength to win the WCC tourney and the dance ticket, WAS the season, it turned out.

This was supposd to be a transition year. the expectations were lowered. They were met. Perhaps even exceeded. It may have been Few's finest coaching year. He felt and has said it was among his most satisfying (I think that was how he put it).

Thus the NCAA was gravy for this transition team that overcame adversity, etc. But there was no real plan for what to do with this success.

It reached every goal it had set. It wasn't ready, psychologically or physically or actually, for the dance. And it showed.

The Cinderella story is getting a little long in the tooth. Our opponents ALL take us seriously.

We need to take ourselves more seriously, too. And prepare for the entire season. All of it.

And if we go down in flames, we go down in flames.

Kicking and screaming.

BobZag
03-19-2007, 09:34 AM
Marty ball, perhaps? :)

sonuvazag
03-19-2007, 09:48 AM
Marty ball, perhaps? :)

God, I hope not. This is the question I want to ask, then, since we're all debating about the coaching: Do any of us honestly doubt Few is the right guy to take this program further?

I don't.

ZagDaddy
03-19-2007, 10:58 AM
I hope Few stays for many years. His offense and recruiting is excellent. I just think that for the program to advance something has to be done about the defense. It's been so mediocre for so long he's got to see it. At this point he seems stubborn to do anything about it. Maybe it's his allegiance to the current coaching staff which would be commendable but that may not be best for the program. I don't want to see anyone get fired. I'm hoping someone gets HIRED.

IrishZag
03-19-2007, 11:34 AM
Defining the success of the season through winning the National Championship is pretty fricking shallow, and will very often lead to dissapointment. The fact is that there are 360+ Division 1 teams and every year about a 8 to 12 teams enter the season with a solid shot at becoming a national champion.

It sounds easy to just set a National Championship or a Final Four as a supreme goal but so many things go into a season that ultimately affect that goal. I feel like coaches and players at this stage have a pretty good idea of how to set goals that are realistic and challenging for their season.

Coach K mentioned in his book that he has only stood before 3 teams in his entire tenure at Duke and told them that he believed they had a real chance of winning the National Championship, and with their talent they could make that a goal. That is DUKE , they get McDonald's all-american's regularly, play in the ACC, and have a pedigree coaching staff that has built a program of high level success.

A national championship takes so much more than talent. It requires luck, team chemistry, favorable draws, good health, and an insatiable drive. It's a magical mix that coaches spend a lifetime trying to develop.

It's a goal that fails to consider the values of the institution, and the values of the coaching staff and team.

Have we underachieved in the tournament in a few of the last couple of years. Yeah perhaps, but to define our success as a program only by the tournament fails to consider all of the stuff that this team goes through each year.

MDS03
03-19-2007, 11:50 AM
I don't think anyone here is trying to say a National Championship or even a Final Four is how they define a successful season. Instead, the question is what do the Zags have to do to prepare for the NCAA Tournament a little better - because recent history shows they've had difficulty.

I think Coach Few is excellent and his track record proves it. And obviously the Zags have won several big time games over the last several years. My initial thought is that both the players and coaches need to regain an attitude that Gonzaga basketball still has something to prove - especially come tournament time.

gamagin
03-19-2007, 12:01 PM
<< I don't think anyone here is trying to say a National Championship or even a Final Four is how they define a successful season. Instead, the question is what do the Zags have to do to prepare for the NCAA Tournament a little better - because recent history shows they've had difficulty.

I think Coach Few is excellent and his track record proves it. And obviously the Zags have won several big time games over the last several years. My initial thought is that both the players and coaches need to regain an attitude that Gonzaga basketball still has something to prove - especially come tournament time. >>

Exactly.

siliconzag
03-19-2007, 12:28 PM
Is a new trend, especially evident in the past two years. It is that teams who excel in defense tend to do best during tournament time. The tournament has completely changed in my mind. Billy Donnovan said it very well. He said, once you get into the tournament, there is so much parity, that there is very little room for error, and the margin of victory so small, that a lot of it is determined by who is hot and who is not.

Defense is the one thing that can make a hot team not. Indiana did a nice job on us. UCLA did a great job on Indiana. Xavier's defense almost upset Ohio State, and Southern Illinois made the Sweet 16. I think in order to do well lin March, from now on, teams must have effective defensive schemes. I don't think offense wins anymore.

This is not a comment about coach Few. I've been critical of him over the years, and yet he is a fine recruiter, and he has good lookin kids (they sat in front of me in SAC). However, if I were Coach Few, I would take a look at the defensive strategies that are working well, and borrow them, just like we borrowed the flex from Santa Clara.

Also, I think it is about time to look at our recruiting strategy from another standpoint. We should be recruiting kids who hope to get to the NBA, but look to Gonzaga as a place to graduate from first. My two cents.

Sili

Ziggy
03-19-2007, 06:09 PM
In my opinion, the timing of the end of WCC regular season play as well as Conference Tournament dates contributes to the malaise come NCAA time.
Obviously, rest is a good thing but being on a roll means staying on a roll.
We had ten days off before we met Indiana, one of the longer breaks in the season. If WCC tournament ended on Selection Sunday we might still be
"riding the wave". Just a thought...

RebornZag
03-19-2007, 07:18 PM
According to almost everyone outside of some of the people on this Board, Gonzaga is among the best programs in the country right now. I really don't understand all the negativity at all. Gonzaga is doing great...don't you see it? And Mark Few is one of the best coaches. Why look for another, when the best IS here.

If you have watched the tournament at all, you must be noticing how good the teams are that make it to the Sweet 16. These teams are GREAT teams, and in my opinion everyone of them is better then Gonzaga this year. But the point about the Zags, and Few, is that they have made it to the Sweet 16, I think what, 4 times in 9 years. And I think there are only 6 teams who have done that in the last 9 years. The measure of a teams greatness is not only measured by reaching the final 4 or winning a national championship, but it is also measured by the frequency in reaching the Sweet 16 and even making it to the tournament in consecutive years (I think GU is what, 9th overall in teams that have made it in consecutive years). That is everyone's goal. They say that anything can happen if you make the Sweet 16. And Only 5 or 6 teams in our country have done that more then Gonzaga. and I can guarantee you that no mid-major team has done it as frequently as GU in the last 9 years.

I think all this negative talk about Mark Few is so rediculous. And all this talk about how aweful our defense is. You are all analyzing this way too much. I watched Florida play twice now, and watched them closer than usual because someone who posts here said they hired a new defensive coach and that that has made the difference. They basically play the same defenses that Gonzaga does. They just happen to have better players this year. But overall I think we've made it to the Sweet 16 more times then Florida has in the last 9 years, and maybe that's why THEY got a new defensive coach.

We had a team in the Sweet 16 last year. And actually Few had built a team that probably could have made it to the Final 4 accept for ONE play at the end of the game. That's dang close. If we had won that game (and we should have) we may have made it to the final 4 instead of UCLA. And we all know how great UCLA is and their coach. They didn't beat us because they had better defense then us. They lucked out and definately got a couple of calls go their way at the end of the game. Had JP held onto that ball we would have won. Simple twist of fate.

Gonzaga did NOT have one of their best teams this year, especially without Josh. Who knows what may have happened if we had had Josh. One thing is certain. It would have been different. I still believe we were a year away even with Josh. Some of the best programs in our country did not make it to the tournament at all this year, so making it was an achievement in itself. To advance in the tournament I think you need two or three things. You need a great point guard, you need a great scorer who you can count on when the going gets rough, and you need tough defense that can make stops when it needs to. Gonzaga didn't have any of these qualities, and especially without Josh. But here is the point...WE ARE DEVELOPING THEM. Great players and great teams are not BORN that way. They develop into that greatness. It's a process, and The Zags are on the way.

We all know that we NOW have all the players that we need to accomplish the next GREAT goal of making it to the Final 4. We need to be patient. Let the greatness develop. It will, believe me. Appreciate the great coach we have.......Everyone else seems to.

Bow Man
03-19-2007, 08:12 PM
This was one of Gonzaga's best defensive teams in recent memory. Remember early in the season shutting down Hansborough & Co.? They didn't have much chemistry on offense but made up for it on the defensive end.
Without Heytvelt, and the diminished role of PMAC, the defense suffered. This resulted in Few relying more on zone D, which Indiana was able to exploit. With who we've got coming back next year, we should be even better on D.

I don't see that the Tourney has changed to favor defense-oriented teams. A team needs a good defense AND offense. What has changed is that players are bigger and that has led to more physical play, both inside and on the perimeter. Also, the refs tend to swallow their whistles and let the "players" decide the games. I saw some guys get absolutely hammered over the weekend and no foul was called, especially late in games.

Ziggy
03-19-2007, 08:28 PM
No one was dissing Few or the team here RbrnZg. You responses are an odd conglomeration of bliss niny and aggitated crank. I think you should inflict a
"reread clause" upon yourself; any posts that attract your attention you read
at least three times all the way through before responding. Just ratioal folks
having a rational discussion. Thanks in advance.

stevet75
03-20-2007, 12:54 PM
I have to agree with Ziggy about the timing of the WCC tournament. How can we be in top competitive form, if we have done nothing but practice with each other for the last 7 to 10 days. Our tournament always seems to be one of the first ones completed, each year.
Being rested and healthy for the NCAA is great, but so is being in top competive form.
I imagine TV and other economic concerns will prevent us from changing the timing much... but a couple of days later, could be to our advantage.

USMC69
03-20-2007, 01:05 PM
In my opinion, the timing of the end of WCC regular season play as well as Conference Tournament dates contributes to the malaise come NCAA time.
Obviously, rest is a good thing but being on a roll means staying on a roll.
We had ten days off before we met Indiana, one of the longer breaks in the season. If WCC tournament ended on Selection Sunday we might still be
"riding the wave". Just a thought...

I think some of the problem is like Ziggy says. To put in in perspective, it equates to one of us getting up and going to work everyday for months on end then, VACATION for one or two weeks, not having to get up early, stay up and watch the late show etc. Then whamo, back to work. I don't know about you but it takes me a while to get back in the swing of things. I know that there is practice etc during this period but it is just that, practice, it is not "the real thing". By no means do I think this is the only problem. Some very good points have been brought up. But it could be part of the problem.
Just my $0.02.

lothar98zag
03-20-2007, 04:47 PM
Every year GU has made the tourney (95, 99-07) the WCC tourney has ended the Monday before Selection Sunday. GU's had the same break every time, but their results in the NCAA tounrey have varied a lot - GU's lost in each of the first 4 rounds of the NCAA tourney.

Maybe there's more to it and every year is different, blah blah blah, but I don't see how the WCC tourney timing could be a problem some years and not others when it's always been the same.

Ziggy
03-21-2007, 06:27 PM
It's possible that the teams that have advanced beyond the first game have succeeded inspite of the overly long break, but it has been a long time since we have seen fire in their eyes in the tournament. The last game I can remember with real fire was vs. Arizona.,2nd round ,SLC,Dbl OT. After that not much to remember;wins and losses but no fire ( at least not for 40 minutes, like last years meltdown). Might be worth considering as a tactic for staying sharp.