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View Full Version : What (truly) surprises you so far this year?



tyra
12-04-2009, 08:56 AM
What is it about the team's play thus far this year that truly surprises you?
Three things spring to my mind. One, Harris. We all knew he was good but I am truly surprised at how phenomenally good he is! Two, I really expected more minutes and point production from the bench and yes, even this early. Third, while I was optimistic about team chemistry being good, I am delightfully surprised by the team's hard-nosed toughness. You?

Robzagnut
12-04-2009, 09:15 AM
1. Harris - tough player who scores inside, gets rebounds and dives on the floor.

2. Olynyk - from a player everyone expected to redshirt to the sixth man who is making significant contributions.

3. Sacre - went from a slow, mechanical robot to a fluid, tough inside presence.

4. Grey - expected a non-chalant laid back attitude, but got a leader who will do ANYTHING and everything to win.

5. Poling - biggest disappointment so far. After redshirting last year, I thought he would be where KO is right now.

GoZags
12-04-2009, 09:15 AM
I was aware that "those in the know" felt that Elias could well be the best freshman in the nation this season -- so his development hasn't been as surprising to me. In addition, the same folks felt that Rob (Bobby?) was at times the Zags' best offensive player in the "summer runs" -- so his success hasn't been "surprising" to me.

I WAS pleasantly surprised to see the Zags come back from Maui with the trophy. 3-0 for an unproven team was quite an accomplishment.

Kelly's play (his skill set and his maturity) has also been a pleasant surprise. I really like Grant Gibbs' game -- and was a bit surprised that Few had the faith in him to have him in at "gametime" down the stretch against WSU.

I'm looking forward to more "surpises" as the season progresses -- i.e. GJ, Manny, Bol and Andy. I believe we'll all be pleasantly surprised at what we see.

jazzdelmar
12-04-2009, 09:18 AM
few's willingness to experiment with unorthodox lineups....tho still a bit stiff necked for my taste, he clearly enjoys this squad and trusts most of the plyrs....most of all, he's not in love with anyone, ok maybe M and S, and in the past that's been a flaw, imo....

alaskazagnut
12-04-2009, 09:20 AM
Were ranked #16 and still are best in the state, we are 6-1, we won the Maui, and I've been able to go to 3 games this year already!!!

Kiddwell
12-04-2009, 09:20 AM
(1) Still waiting for Poling to make his emergence. (Haven't given up. Just waiting.)
(2) Surprised by Olynyk's steady progress/impact
(3) Sacre's newfound skill set


:]

Reborn
12-04-2009, 09:20 AM
Good idea for a thread. I was thinking of this very thing this morning. For me it's been the defense, and how "tough" this Zag team is. Bouldin has been the biggest surprise. He's really becoming a pretty good defender. I knew Gray was a good defender, but not this good.

I knew Harris would be good because of the stuff reported in the press and here on the board. But seeing how good he is, and how he can rebound and score is just AMAZING. He's really something to watch. I don't care how many ***** stars someone has that we play. Harris IS BETTER in my opinion, and that's why I don't worry about guys like Iminu vs Harris. I say Harris takes that matchup. And same for Olynyk and Arop. I like these guys a lot. I thought they'd be good, but I'm a little surprised by how good they are for Freshmen.

I'm also a little surprised by how great the team chemistry is.

Zag4Hire
12-04-2009, 09:23 AM
I underestimated that all the freshman in the rotation would breed a more fierce competition for playing time and create a better result overall. These guys are trying so hard and play with so much heart, nobody can take a breath. Even the older guys need to show with their 'A' game and hustle for balls or there will be a more than willing freshman wanting to jump in there and get some minutes. I think when a team has a very set rotation, there isn't that pressure to perform for all 40 minutes. The one slight downside is that younger guys try to do too much sometimes, leading to turnovers, forced shots, etc. but it is minor.

FuManShoes
12-04-2009, 09:26 AM
Poise under pressure
Ability to get critical stops
Ability to score on inbounds plays and out of timeouts
Ability to sink clutch free throws
Coaching adjustments
Energy level
Poling being a complete nonfactor

NotoriousZ
12-04-2009, 09:28 AM
I thought Arop would be playing more by now, and I had no clue that Kelly would be where he's at. But Poling getting virtually nothing as of now is the biggest surprise for me.

A tougher question is if Andy, Manny, and/or Bol improve enough to get 15-20 minutes a game, whose minutes to they take? I think Arop and Kong are progressing and will see more PT. But if garbage time is all Andy's going to see this year, that's going to be rough for him.

Edit: The outstanding play by our team has not been much of a surprise to me, but it's certainly been entertaining!

SWZag
12-04-2009, 09:39 AM
Two things off the top of my head.

- Kelly has been an awesome surprise for me. Seeing pictures of him and a couple videos, I wasn't sure how that would translate to the D-I level. He didn't look, to me, like he could do what he's now doing. And to hit the floor going after balls and his absolute fearless hustle, and for a guy that's 6'11?! He was a great catch for GU! He reminds me of a player a decade ago for Purdue, Brian Cardinal. Brian was 6'8 and wore need pads because of his time spent on the floor. Maybe we should go together and get KO some big 'ol knee pads! Hustle wins games. KO is a winner.

- The next thing is the obvious. I thought since we had so many guys that had never played a D-I basketball game, we'd take a a year to gain experience and come together as a team. I didn't expect it to be a bad year, but I felt we would be either .500 or below right now. And to be 6-1? Wow, that's encouraging and amazing in itself. From comments I've heard from coaches and players, this team is acting a one team and everyone gets along. There is nothing more important than that, as simple as it sounds.

- OK, one more. We have guys on our bench that could start at most colleges! Their time is coming!!

SWZag

Birddog
12-04-2009, 09:40 AM
I really, really didn't expect this team to pull the fat out of the fire at this stage of the season. Certainly I didn't expect them to do it not once, not twice, but thrice! Like others, given their relative youth and D1 experience, I expected this team to lose a couple they should win and win a couple they should lose. Three times now, I've given up the screaming expletives and resigned myself to a horrible loss only to see the team regroup and come rolling back. Not only has this been an unimaginable surprise, it has been one of the best confidence/character builders this team could ever experience at this stage of the season. They will be plenty tough come tournament time. NO ONE will want to face the Zags in March.

bballbeachbum
12-04-2009, 09:43 AM
ability to stop dribble penetration without help

some may say they knew we'd do it like this, and I knew we had players who could do it, but so many players on this team are doing it throughout the course of a defensive possession at the same time, throughout the course of a game as standard, and not just those that I believed could do it when the season first tipped off.

excellent surprise to me...closely followed by our paint play. Absolutely no way I saw that coming, nor did Coach Izzo!

another excellent surprise

stevet75
12-04-2009, 09:50 AM
I have given up on them more often than I would like to admit. This team's tenacity and maturity is astounding.

xjzico
12-04-2009, 09:52 AM
I thought Arop would be playing more by now, and I had no clue that Kelly would be where he's at. But Poling getting virtually nothing as of now is the biggest surprise for me.

A tougher question is if Andy, Manny, and/or Bol improve enough to get 15-20 minutes a game, whose minutes to they take? I think Arop and Kong are progressing and will see more PT. But if garbage time is all Andy's going to see this year, that's going to be rough for him.

Edit: The outstanding play by our team has not been much of a surprise to me, but it's certainly been entertaining!
I'm surprised the rotation is as tight as it is, so quickly. Expected far more tinkering and shuffling of players.

rijman
12-04-2009, 09:53 AM
One, Harris. We all knew he was good but I am truly surprised at how phenomenally good he is!

Ditto.

Before the season started I talked to an ex GU player and asked him which new player he thought would make the biggest impact this season, he thought it would be Manny. There was another source I read, which was posted in this forum, about KO being the top recruit. The season has a long way to go and we will see a lot more from the new guys, but to this point Harris has by far made the biggest impact this season of all the new guys. Some of you may have expected this, but it caught me completely by surprise.

BobZag
12-04-2009, 10:14 AM
I can say more after the Wake Forest game, but in general the overall success this team has had has surprised me a bit. Just the W-L record and the teams the fellas have beaten thus far, and really had a legit chance to win the game they lost. If GU goes into MSG with a 9-1 record, that will be a most pleasant surprise.

cjm720
12-04-2009, 10:15 AM
1. Harris - tough player who scores inside, gets rebounds and dives on the floor.

2. Olynyk - from a player everyone expected to redshirt to the sixth man who is making significant contributions.

3. Sacre - went from a slow, mechanical robot to a fluid, tough inside presence.

4. Grey - expected a non-chalant laid back attitude, but got a leader who will do ANYTHING and everything to win.

5. Poling - biggest disappointment so far. After redshirting last year, I thought he would be where KO is right now.


Great post.

I'd add:

6. Manny - thought he'd have a much higher impact.

7. Meech's assists - much lower than my expectations.

8. Coach Few - done a tremendous job nurturing new talent while putting Ws first. For the most difficult year in terms of juggling new talent, I'd give him a A.


Go Zags!!

cbbfanatic
12-04-2009, 10:18 AM
few's willingness to experiment with unorthodox lineups....tho still a bit stiff necked for my taste, he clearly enjoys this squad and trusts most of the plyrs....most of all, he's not in love with anyone, ok maybe M and S, and in the past that's been a flaw, imo....

Couldn't agree more about Few not falling *too much* in love with any players. I hope this keeps up. I view it as a big downfall of his in the past - turning the keys over to a couple guys

Second - very surprised at how great harris is from the jump. Listening all summer to all the hype over each new kid, with some poster(s) having rave reviews about each one of them with no apparent weaknesses can make one tune it all out and write off a lot of those comments as being unrealistic and not exactly objective. This kid, however, has delivered on all hype - and some. Enjoy him now...

siliconzag
12-04-2009, 10:27 AM
As one who has been somewhat less enthusiastic than most of the Mark Few Groupies who regularly extol him on this board, I also believe that he has for the first time since I've been following him, shown some flexibility this year. It would have been inconceivable to come back against teams like Cincinnati and WSU in previous years. It appears that he is not only experimenting with changing players, which is in itself good, but also with changing up on defenses and offensive strategies as well.

1) For me the biggest surprise is more adaptive coaching
2) Improved Defense (which is probably partly due to 1)
and
3) Cohesiveness (not seen since 1999 IMO)

Sili

Ezag
12-04-2009, 10:36 AM
I knew we had a good crop of recruits coming in this year but I didn't realize how much further advanced Harris is. While all the newbies are playing like Freshman, Harris is out of this world, playing like a seasoned vet. I would already say he is worlds above Heytvelt.

Secondly the team seems to have the chemistry and ability to put aside one individual play and play as a unit. In the past we could ride the backs of the Turiaf's, Morrison's, Dickau's and Daye's and that was great but now we have a team.

duper
12-04-2009, 10:43 AM
Sacre= better than I expected
Harris= way better than I expected
Matt= what I expected
Gray= what I expected
Meech= less than I expected

Andy= way less than I expected
Kelly= way better than I expected
Manny= less than I expected
Kong= what I expected
Foster= what I expected
Gibbs= better than I expected
GJ= what I expected

primal23
12-04-2009, 10:47 AM
I don't know if this would count as a surprise, or more of a good thing to see, but what I like seeing is that all the guys seem to genuinely like each other, and want to play as a unit. My wife made a comment after the Cincy win, that she sees more of a coheasive(sp) unit then she has seen in many years.

ZagDaddy
12-04-2009, 11:04 AM
For me it's:

1: Rob's improvement
2: Few's confidence in the youngsters at the close of the WSU game.

Number 2 says more to me than anything about where the coach's head is at with this squad. Benches typically shorten as season's progress. This one may lengthen. :)

bballbeachbum
12-04-2009, 11:41 AM
as a Coach Few lover, I am not surprised

he's playing the hand in front of him as usual, or better, still finding out what that hand is imo, with so many unprovens, as he continues to play his hand this year. Harris is an Ace. What is Manny? Grant? etc., and when, why, etc.

also would think that as these youngsters shake out over time that he will 'fall in love' with some and play them more than others, but he's still finding who they are because in game situations he is still learning them.

and I agree that our bench will get longer as he learns these players under game stress, but also because, as mentioned in other strings, we play that inverted schedule

but I think it's cool that Coach Few can still surprise so many of the faithful! seriously

GUDan07
12-04-2009, 11:57 AM
Everything.

jpwils
12-04-2009, 12:07 PM
1. Biggest surprise- Surprised in a positive way over KO's all-around game and smarts. GLAD he did not redshirt.
( nice work KO)-A

2. Surprised Harris was this good-knew he was good but thought
Poling might beat him out.( nice work EH)-A plus

3. Surprised Bouldin has been this good and dominant in several key games.
( great work MB) Some sloppy passing exhibitions despite greatness. - overall an A but ball handling is a B minus for Matt

4. Surprised Sacre has been this good aand dominant in a few spots-Cincy comes to mind. RS needs to get coached up and be mindful himself to stay out of foul trouble.
(nice work RS)-B plus

Hesitate to express disappointment cuz players are young and need encouragement

1. Point guards as a group need to continue to develop
and contribute a tad more ( i'm sure they know it already). Still waiting
for Gibbs to contribute a bit more offensively but his court awareness is awesome.-C but exception is Gibbs-B ; Meech's toughness is A, however.

2. Backups in post with exception of KO need to stay ready cuz RS tends to get in foul trouble- Foster as a senior needs to step up and set the example...
Poling should still develop and needs to stay ready just in case.-C minus
and somewhat surprising in a less than positive way. Hopefully just an Incomplete.

3.. Mildly surprised Arop and Kong don't see more action, but with Bouldin hot
can understand...Arop has shown flashes in games and so has Kong.-C but
on the rise .

Postplayer57
12-04-2009, 12:17 PM
The lack of selfishness and great chemistry of this squad.

kitzbuel
12-04-2009, 01:52 PM
Rob's emergence as a dominant, reliable interior presence; particularly on the offense.

Team desire and toughness. The Cincy game was telling IMO; coming back from 10 down against a very physical team in a game where a five point lead could seem insurmountable.

DADoZAG
12-04-2009, 02:02 PM
ÖMeech's assists - much lower than my expectations.

Must admit this is my biggest surprise, along with lack of fast break points. After seven games, ten assists and nine turnovers from the starting point guard tells me that positionís playing way too conservatively. Pleased with the on ball defense, but why isn't it producing more fast breaks?

The lack of growth by Andy has also been somewhat of a surprise, but I still have hope. Itís early.

Some may be tired of my rant, but if the ZAGS donít learn to share the ball, wins could be few and far between starting tomorrow through Jan 16th.

ĎHope Iím wrong.

Go ZAGS!

zag67
12-04-2009, 02:47 PM
Harris has to be my number 1. Also the team chemistry this early (and that got them to 6-1). Also when we get some "comfortable" games, then I will be happy to see more of manny, Bol and Grant. By year end this team could be something else, but remember it is a journey and we may have some falls along the line.

seasontixholder
12-04-2009, 03:34 PM
I'll use a little lattitude and say what a crappy pile of s--- that UCLA is. Can manure be pus?

Calzagfan
12-04-2009, 05:13 PM
1) The play of the front court: both Rob and Elias
2) Lack of production from point guard - expected Meech to be a little more effective on the offensive end.

Bocco
12-04-2009, 05:40 PM
1- the intensity on defense
2 - we're 6-1 after seven games
3 - the ability to dig their way out of double digit deficits (though if they changed this modus operandi and avoided getting into them in the frist place it would not bother me in the least)

MickMick
12-04-2009, 05:52 PM
At the end of the season, if Bol has not surprised us, then that will be my biggest surprise.

There is plenty of season left for that though.

RenoZag
12-04-2009, 08:24 PM
Three times now, I've given up the screaming expletives and resigned myself to a horrible loss only to see the team regroup and come rolling back. Not only has this been an unimaginable surprise, it has been one of the best confidence/character builders this team could ever experience at this stage of the season. They will be plenty tough come tournament time. NO ONE will want to face the Zags in March.

And it's been FUN to watch. I don't remember too much fun the last few seasons ( except Dave Libbey's call on Brody at SCU )

ZagsGoZags
12-04-2009, 10:16 PM
My biggest surprise is the gulf between the top 5 (now 6) players and the rest. I am amazed at how much PT the five starters put in all 3 Maui games, and Sacre out mostly because of foul trouble. Now I would say KO is with them.

Another big surprise is Andy Poling. I just thought after a year of red shirting and knowing our system he would be more visible by now.

I had no idea Harris would become a crucial player, absolutely necessary when we are behind in a close game. I thought one or two of our new guys would 'grow up to be a star' but I didn't know which one. The sky seems to be the limit for him. I hope if he wants to play the three real bad next year, the coach will let him try playing there more. Especially if he puts in the gym time to get a strong 3 pt shot developed.

Sacre's improvement has almost been shocking, and I couldn't be happier. He had played so little I really didn't have much of an image of how he played at all.

I thought meech would be scoring more than he does by now.

Now I will go read this thread and see what others had to say.

I thought Mangisto Arop and Kong would be getting more PT by now. Gibbs and GJ are getting about what I would have said in July.

I am surprised KO is coming on so strong. I had stereotyped him as too thin to be playing in the middle so much. He is 20 -25 pounds heavier than Austin, however, at the same height, so I guess he will be OK. I would hate to see him get injured, though.

FrosTbear
12-05-2009, 06:29 AM
My biggest surprise is the toughness, IMO when you punched a Zag in the mouth they turn around and walked off...now they punch you back. Next is our defense speed, we don't have all of the Jan or Feb adjustments in but you can see we don't let people drive to the basket or switch for an open look. And last the coaching staff how they have gone back to step #1 in teaching but have put winning as the focus. Failure is not a GU option.

Xin Loi 67
12-05-2009, 07:32 AM
When I first saw Kelly O. play I said to myself, maybe in a couple of years. I watched him as he was taking, on court directions as Bouldin was coaxing him into position, flailing and flapping around with what seemed like awkward leaps and bounces.

A true freshman no juco, no euro ball, just a kid fresh out of HS with as much sparky, nose for the ball, get in the mix play within him to bring a smile to an old guys face. Energy, he burns it up out there and seems relentless in movement. You know, he reminds me of Denver's "Birdman." Same type guy constantly on the other teams nerves and mine too at times.

Kelly, is my player surprise this year and I expect him to wear well.

MickMick
12-05-2009, 07:46 AM
Love the comparison Xin:

Ted Hendricks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Hendricks)was one of my all time favorite NFL players. His nickname was the Mad Stork. One of the best ever.


Hendricks' height was a major passing-lane obstacle for quarterbacks and his long arms pulled down errant passes (26 career interceptions as a pro) with amazing grace and also made him the most feared kick-blocker of his era - 25 blocked punts, field goals or PATs, the unofficial NFL record.

I like the nickname for KO. I hope it sticks.

ZagAddict
12-05-2009, 08:44 AM
Biggest surprise: Mental toughness - this team plays well beyond their years. The ability to stay composed and fight back from double digit deficits in the 2nd half of games has been amazing. It's been a long time since we have seen the kind of heart and fight that this TEAM is showing this year.

Biggest disappointment: I decided to not get tickets to the GU v. Duke game in the MSG this year:( I really believe this IS a special TEAM this year, and I see the Duke game as a huge opportunity for the Zags to show they have the potential to be a #1 seed in the West in March

Favorite player to watch: Tie between Harris and Bouldin... they both have unbelieveable motors and play all-out on the court. I can't pick one over the other... they are both so integral to the success of the Zags this year.

Go Zags!