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MDZag
03-12-2009, 12:12 PM
Find the article HERE (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/seth_davis/03/12/mailbag/index.html?eref=T1)


You may recall it was 10 years ago that Gonzaga got on the map with their run to the Elite Eight. In honor of this anniversary, I have a few questions about them. What are their chances of making it to the Elite Eight this year? What are the chances Mark Few will leave Gonzaga for a head coaching position at a major program this season? If Austin Daye and/or Matt Bouldin leave school this year for the NBA draft, will this be the end of their run?
-- Bob Javinsky, San Francisco
It's good to get a Gonzaga question, because this team has really fallen off the radar since they got blown out by Memphis at home -- even as they won 15 of their last 16 games and the West Coast Conference tournament, yet again. Funny, but I can remember when Gonzaga was ranked in the top five and people were asserting that this would be the best team Few has ever had. Now, nobody is talking about them as a potential Final Four team. Maybe it's better for them to slip into the tourney under the radar, so they won't have to deal with the pressure of expectations that have tripped them up in the past.
To answer Bob's questions in order, I'd put their chances at an Elite Eight at about 15 percent. They'd probably have to knock off a one or two seed in the Sweet 16, and I don't see that happening. I love that Gonzaga can score, but they are still suspect defensively, and they have very little inside presence because their big men (Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye) play like they're 6-foot-2 guards.
Regarding Few, the only jobs I can see him leaving Spokane for are Arizona or Oregon, if Ernie Kent doesn't hold on. Even though Few grew up in Oregon and is an alum of that school, I don't think that's reason enough for Few to leave Gonzaga for Eugene. He's in too good a situation to leave for sentimental reasons. He has to believe he's going to a better job, and I'm not sure Oregon qualifies. But as I've written before, Arizona is a different story. The question is, given the current economic environment, whether Arizona is ready to pay enough money to lure Few away from Gonzaga. Also, if Arizona really wants to splurge, they may go after Tubby Smith. Or if they want to save money, Reggie Theus might be the best option.
Finally, regarding Bouldin and Daye, I honestly can't imagine either one is going to enter the draft. Daye is the better long-term prospect, but I don't know that he would be a first-round pick. Regardless, this program won't drop back one iota. Few has done an excellent job recruiting players who can thrive in this system, and he has enough young talent in the fold (Steven Gray, Demetri Goodson, Robert Sacre) to have a strong foundation to keep winning.
By the way, Bob, nice work reminding us of the 10-year anniversary of the first tourney run. Always brings to mind my buddy Gus Johnson's epic call after the Zags beat Florida in the Sweet 16 by one point: "The slipper still fits!" God, I love this month.

Odd that he still does not give any credit to our defense....

MedZag
03-12-2009, 12:19 PM
Was thinking the exact same thing. Davis has always sort of had a perogative against GU due to its porous defense in the past. Not that I blame him, but there's too much evidence for this team to the contrary.

There are certain matchups that we simply can't defend well due to personnel, but I think it has been thoroughly debunked this season that this team's defense is "suspect."

TacomaZAG
03-12-2009, 12:21 PM
the reference that Gonzaga is not a "major" program, but that horse has been beaten to death. IMO, neither AZ or UO is a step up from GU, except for the $$$, and I don't think Coach is that enamored with $$$/expectation relationship that would come with leading either program.

I guess leading the nation in defense (opposing team field goal percentage) doesn't matter unless you're in a BCS conference.

Oh well, keeping dissing us, we play better with a chip on our shoulder.

Go ZAGS, rock the Rose Garden..........

CaliforniaZaggin'
03-12-2009, 12:30 PM
Can you be "under the radar" and finish the season ranked in the top 12 in both national polls??

Josh has a nice outside shot, but no one who has watched him this season can honestly say that he plays like a 6'2" guard.

I also want to say that I agree with everthing that MDZag, MedZag, and TacomaZag mentioned above, particularly the part about our defense not getting the credit it deserves.

TheReasonableZag
03-12-2009, 12:53 PM
I usually don't care when the national media gets the Zags wrong, but for some reason I am really bugged by the popular misconception that this edition of the Zags can't defend. I hope the players are, too, and come out to prove that their burley defensive stats were no fluke.

Pleasant Peninsula
03-12-2009, 12:54 PM
Our defense does not get the credit it deserves and that's because of porous defense from past Gonzaga teams. It isn't fair to this year's squad, who is among the best in the nation in defense. It's not reasonable to base current year analysis on past year's results, but it is understandable why analysts and fans do so. I think we are all guilty of doing that a little bit.

Seth has been on the Gonzaga bandwagon before and has been burned. He picked us to win the whole thing in '04 after the selection show. And he had us in the Final Four at the beginning of the year (before retracting that prediction after our March slide). I think he's selling Gonzaga's EE/FF chances a bit short, and isn't up to date on the quality of the team's defense, but I can understand why.

Gonzaga is an excellent team this year, with a great defense and an equally stellar offense. We know it. The only way to let everyone else in on the secret is for the Zags to PROVE IT in the coming weeks.

I think they will.

ZagManFan
03-12-2009, 12:58 PM
I love that Gonzaga can score, but they are still suspect defensively, and they have very little inside presence because their big men (Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye) play like they're 6-foot-2 guards

Locker room material if you ask me.:mad:

MotoZag
03-12-2009, 01:09 PM
I love that Gonzaga can score, but they are still suspect defensively, and they have very little inside presence because their big men (Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye) play like they're 6-foot-2 guards

Apparently Micah Downs getting 12 rebounds against the statistically best rebounding tandem in the country doesn't classify him as a big. :/

UberZagFan
03-12-2009, 01:16 PM
Imagine how good GU's FG% against would be if they had a lot of inside presence? That very little inside presence is the best FG% against in the nation. GU could stop NBA teams if it had a lot of inside presence.

bballbeachbum
03-12-2009, 02:24 PM
I read Seth and listen to him. Maybe he's trying to help us by slighting us :D

what you're all saying here about this is what I was thinking.

My sincere hope is that the officials give us credit for being sound defensively and don't tweet the whistle in expectation of a foul that doesn't occur...preconceived on the we're slower, we're not quick enough, we're unschooled on the finer points of defense, blah blah blah. I'm not saying any ref would try to job us or anyone, just that they're human, and what they think influences how they call it, what they "see."

Re. Coach Few, see Billy Gillespie. The grass ain't always greener, even if your pocket book is. We'll be able to distill that one soon enough, but first things first.

GO TEAM ZAGS!!!

lothar98zag
03-13-2009, 09:53 AM
Locker room material if you ask me.:mad:
It worked for Vegas. Hopefully some more "experts" help GU out in this way in the next week.

sullyzag66
03-13-2009, 10:23 AM
Our defense does not get the credit it deserves and that's because of porous defense from past Gonzaga teams. It isn't fair to this year's squad, who is among the best in the nation in defense. It's not reasonable to base current year analysis on past year's results, but it is understandable why analysts and fans do so. I think we are all guilty of doing that a little bit.

Seth has been on the Gonzaga bandwagon before and has been burned. He picked us to win the whole thing in '04 after the selection show. And he had us in the Final Four at the beginning of the year (before retracting that prediction after our March slide). I think he's selling Gonzaga's EE/FF chances a bit short, and isn't up to date on the quality of the team's defense, but I can understand why.

Gonzaga is an excellent team this year, with a great defense and an equally stellar offense. We know it. The only way to let everyone else in on the secret is for the Zags to PROVE IT in the coming weeks.

I think they will.
Exactly. That's why they play the games.

EngineerZag
03-13-2009, 10:46 AM
I think the reason why our defense is still viewed as "suspect" is because we give up sooo many offensive rebounds. You can be #1 in the nation in defensive FG% but if you're not securing the defensive rebound, you haven't completed the defensive possession.

zagsfan21
03-13-2009, 10:49 AM
Yeah, the opponent FG% will definitely come down if they're getting 2-3 chances per possession to put it down.

UberZagFan
03-13-2009, 11:01 AM
Yeah, the opponent FG% will definitely come down if they're getting 2-3 chances per possession to put it down.

Except if they make on the first try they would need a second or third chance. Maybe the O boards seem so high because the opposing teams have so many more opportunities to pick up O boards because GU's FG defense is so tough?

Pleasant Peninsula
03-13-2009, 11:22 AM
I think the reason why our defense is still viewed as "suspect" is because we give up sooo many offensive rebounds. You can be #1 in the nation in defensive FG% but if you're not securing the defensive rebound, you haven't completed the defensive possession.

It's a valid point. But I don't think that has much to do with the general perception. If it did, then teams would talk down on Gonzaga's rebounding abilities, not their defensive abilities. A distinction is generally drawn between those two factors, though I agree that they are related.

By the numbers, Gonzaga is 110th in opponents offensive rebounding % (according to KenPom). Not good. But still ahead of a number of teams that are expected to make deep runs this year.

Also it should be noted that one of the reasons Gonzaga is so effective on defense this year is the unique personnel they put on the floor (tall, long, agile,athletic), the trade-off of which is some weakness on the boards. If Gonzaga had a couple John Bryant-style horses down low, they'd certainly be a better rebounding team, but they'd lose a lot defensively (not to mention offensively).

I like this team how it is. A lot.

gamagin
03-13-2009, 11:37 AM
about our game under both baskets. It will be the reason we win or lose game to game in the dance, imo.

Our opponents will be planning to exploit that weaknesss.

We can count on it. Few has been emphasizing it daily in anticipation of just that. Besides, JH used to make his living under the basket, and when that didn't work, he usually got a free throw or two. Those are high percentage points vs. those at the top of the key that he sometimes prefers.

The good news, imo, is we are capable of getting our share of boards if we develop the will to do so, and decide we will not be beaten, or not be dominated, underneath, for 40 minutes each game.

We are likely not going to crush anyone underneath, but we sure as hell can give them a bad time, get our fair share of boards and putbacks, and we must.

This guy saying it helps us, too. It serves as a reminder that we are considered weak because we can't play underneath. That we haven't a chance. Another opportunity to prove we can, one game at a time.

Go TEAM Zags !

bballbeachbum
03-13-2009, 02:33 PM
about our game under both baskets. It will be the reason we win or lose game to game in the dance, imo.

Our opponents will be planning to exploit that weaknesss.

We can count on it. Few has been emphasizing it daily in anticipation of just that. Besides, JH used to make his living under the basket, and when that didn't work, he usually got a free throw or two. Those are high percentage points vs. those at the top of the key that he sometimes prefers.

The good news, imo, is we are capable of getting our share of boards if we develop the will to do so, and decide we will not be beaten, or not be dominated, underneath, for 40 minutes each game.

We are likely not going to crush anyone underneath, but we sure as hell can give them a bad time, get our fair share of boards and putbacks, and we must.

This guy saying it helps us, too. It serves as a reminder that we are considered weak because we can't play underneath. That we haven't a chance. Another opportunity to prove we can, one game at a time.

Go TEAM Zags !

the will that just, darnit, my guy's not going to get that board, whether I get it or not! collectively, together, in our first round game

:agreed:

dawgfather11
03-13-2009, 03:40 PM
the reference that Gonzaga is not a "major" program, but that horse has been beaten to death. IMO, neither AZ or UO is a step up from GU, except for the $$$, and I don't think Coach is that enamored with $$$/expectation relationship that would come with leading either program.

I guess leading the nation in defense (opposing team field goal percentage) doesn't matter unless you're in a BCS conference.

Oh well, keeping dissing us, we play better with a chip on our shoulder.

Go ZAGS, rock the Rose Garden..........

UO is not a step up, but Zona is definitely an upgrade to GU.