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GoZags
10-07-2010, 08:01 AM
I first heard the term associated with Gonzaga University on March 21, 2003. GU was getting ready to play Arizona in the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney in Salt Lake (the epic 96-95 double o.t. loss to the #1 seed Wildcats), Ben Hansen of goazcats wrote an article (posted below) about how Gonzaga's guards were difference makers.

While I'm looking forward to this season and what it will bring -- I'm also looking forward to the future. Kevin Pangos played in the U17 World Championships this past summer. Teams that qualified, and were there for the World Championships included USA, Poland, Australia, Canada, Lithuania, Germany, Spain, Serbia, China, Argentina, Korea and Egypt.

Kevin Pangos led Canada to a Bronze Medal, and in doing so was named Best Point Guard in the World Championships (http://www.hamburg2010.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/10/fu17wc/men/news/p/eid/4718/nid/41446/sid/4718/article.html). Being named Best Point Guard in the World Championship tournament is a far cry from thinking a guard will succeed based on watching a spliced highlight reel set to music (my opinion). Kevin will join highly coveted guard Gary Bell, Jr. to continue Gonzaga's tradition of great guards.

Great guards? The following has recently happened vis a vis Gonzaga's guards:

'02 -- WCC Player of Year -- Dan Dickau (also 1st team Top 5 All American)
'03 -- WCC Player of Year -- Blake Stepp (also Academic All American)
'04 -- WCC Player of Year -- Blake Stepp (also Academic All American and Wooden Award Finalist)
'07 -- WCC Co-Player of Year -- Derek Raivio (also AP All American honorable mention)
'08 -- WCC Player of Year -- Jeremy Pargo (also AP All American honorable mention)
'10 -- WCC Player of Year -- Matt Bouldin (also AP All American honorable mention)

This season will be intriguing -- with Gray, Meech, Carter and a few others.

The future? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meRgT5Nmogw) Again, my opinion.

Ben's article from the '03 dance.
Guard play has led Gonzaga into nation's elite where it belongs

Arizona may be known as "Point Guard U." but Gonzaga is making a case for that title as well.
By Ben Hansen
March 21, 2003
Over the course of Gonzaga’s five-year run as serious NCAA players, the Bulldogs have proven the old axiom true that ‘great guards win games in the Tournament’.

Since 1999, the Zags have won eight games in Tournament play, including two Sweet Sixteens (2000 & 2001) and an Elite Eight (1999) appearance. GU’s 8-4 record in NCAA play in the last five years would rank second in the Pac-10, behind only Arizona’s 9-4 mark. Every other member of the West Coast’s power conference hasn’t fared nearly as well as the WCC heavyweight Zags, check it out.

Since 1999 (including first round results in 2003):

Arizona 8-4 8-8 16-12

*Stanford, 7-4 – 3-5 10-9
Gonzaga 8-4 7-8 15-12


*UCLA, 6-4 --- 13 – 5 19-9

*Oregon, 3-2 (plays today) 3-2 --6-4

*USC, 3-2 – 3-2 - 6-4

*ASU, 1-0 – 1-2 2-4

*Washington, 0-1.7-5 -- 7-6

Eight wins in 12 games over a five-year period is good for any national program, especially one formerly considered a mid-major. Before 2003’s first round games, Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky – superpowers in the college basketball landscape – had identical 8-4 records in their most recent 12 NCAA games.

Gonzaga officially belongs among the “elite” of the game if success is genuinely defined by NCAA success.

The secret to that success is simple. Just like KU, UK and, especially, Arizona, the Zags have deployed a great set of guards on an annual basis. And while the NBA is a League dominated by the Shaq’s, the Yao’s and the KG’s, college basketball is more or less guard-driven.

GU head coach Mark Few, like Dan Monson before him, has established himself as a premier developer of guards around the country. It’s one thing to bring in a guy like McDonald’s All-American Luke Ridnour and watch as he plays his way into the NBA Lottery, but it’s quite another to recruit, teach, develop and coach a guy like Matt Santangelo, the guard that really got things going for Gonzaga in 1999 and 2000.

Santangelo and backcourt mate Richie Frahm led the Zags to wins over the likes of seventh-seeded Minnesota, second-seeded Stanford, third seeded Florida (’99), and then seventh-seeded Louisville and second-seeded St. John’s in 2000. In those five wins, Santangelo averaged 17.8 points and 5.8 assists. Frahm, a silky-smooth shooter, averaged 19.8 points per game, including a 31-point outburst in a first round win over Louisville at McKale Center in 2000.

The Zags went from that dynamic backcourt duo to a new and improved version starting in 2001 when Dan Dickau became eligible after sitting out a year as a transfer from Washington. Dickau was joined by heralded freshman Blake Stepp, who starred at South Eugene (Ore.) HS and was named the 2000 Oregon state Player of the Year with his state-leading 24.5 ppg average.

Dickau and Stepp burst onto the scene nationally when the Zags lost a much-closer-than-the-score-would-indicate 101-87 game at Arizona in November of 2000. In that game, the GU guards combined to hit 10-17 three-pointers and scored 41 points, compared to only 32 for Arizona’s Jason Gardner (11) and Gilbert Arenas (21).

Had Dickau not broken his hand during the middle of the game, it’s likely that he goes for 30-plus and Gonzaga wins (GU led 76-71 with 7:37 to play in the game).

Once Dickau’s hand healed and the Bulldogs won their third straight WCC championship, it was back to the Big Dance, where the Zags sent fifth-seeded Virginia packing in yet another first round “upset” for Mark Few’s team.

The irony was that by this time, calling the win over the ACC’s Cavaliers an upset was based solely upon seeding and nothing more. Most knowledgeable basketball fans were hardly surprised that Gonzaga won the game and weren’t shocked to see Dickau, Stepp and senior big man Casey Calvary roll on to yet another Sweet 16 before losing to defending NCAA champion Michigan State.

Dickau scored 49 points and had 10 assists in the Zags’ two wins in 2001 and became a first-team All-American a year later as a senior.

Now it is Stepp who has emerged as the next in a distinguished list of great Gonzaga guards. He is averaging 17.8 points and 5.9 assists per game as a junior this season and helped lead GU to the WCC’s regular season championship with a 12-2 league record (23-8 overall).

At 6-foot-4, Stepp is a matchup problem for almost every opposing point guard he faces. He’s not quick in the Jason Gardner sense, but he is intelligent enough to use screens to create shots for himself, and that is where he excels, shooting .412 from three-point range.

Few’s successful recruitment of Stepp coincided with Oregon luring the Blaine, Washington star Ridnour to Eugene. The two versatile guards from the Northwest are on very similar career paths – Ridnour became one of the nation’s best players as a junior, while Stepp projects to do the same next year as a senior.

Even after he graduates, Few has made sure that the Zags’ guard lineage will continue with the signing of yet another star point guard from an obscure small town in the Pacific Northwest – 6-foot-1 Derek Raivio of Mountain View, Washington, population: not much.

The Zags' future PG Derek Raivio (photo courtesy Bill Nance - TheFinalScoreTV)

Gonzaga and its recent tradition of success – 133 wins over the last five years, or an average of 26.6 per season (by comparison, Arizona has 127 and averages only 25.4 over that same span) – has enabled it to recruit the kinds of prospects most WCC teams can only dream of.

Throw in a brand new arena that is set to open officially in 2004, and Gonzaga now has yet another recruiting advantage over its fellow conference members.

Gonzaga's new $23 million dollar arena will seat 6,000; twice the amount of "The Kennel" now.

Instead of going up against Santa Clara or Loyola Marymount for recruits, Few finds himself in competition with Kansas and Arizona, mostly for the nation’s best guards. Two of those guards, Stepp and Gardner, will square off on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams have been-there, done-that in regards to this level of the bracket tree. And even though Arizona is the top seed and was ranked No. 1 in the nation the vast majority of this year, does anyone actually believe that these Zags will be intimidated in the least?

Me neither.

Welcome to the big time, Gonzaga. You undoubtedly belong.

**BHansen@goazcats.com

Ekrub
10-07-2010, 09:39 AM
I don't remember Gilbert Arenas on that team.

You know, that '03 Arizona game was by far the best game I have ever watched (of any sport), and I didn't even get to see most of it. Even vs. Florida wasn't as good as that game was (very close) It was so intense, and magnified because I was watching it in the Arena on the big screen as the tourney was here in town. Awesome game.

jimmy b
10-07-2010, 10:25 AM
The run started in no small part due to Matt, Ritchie and Q.

Going back further, of course there is Stockton, Mcphee, Rillie, etc.

Kevin P. has in his interviews highlighted the great guards produced as a reason he chose us. I'm excited about what he, Bell, and Dranganis will bring.

What I love about the Pangos verbal is how much he wants to be Zag. It's huge when kids of his ability and potential really want to play for GU. Our history of developing great guards made that possible IMO.

Martin Centre Mad Man
10-07-2010, 10:31 AM
The two point guards who started during the years immediately before Santangelo's arrival were first team All-WCC players cut from a very similar mode. Geoff Goss graduated in '94 and Kyle Dixon was his successor from -95- '96. Both were outstanding all-around players. They were very quick players with great competitive instincts. They were excellent defenders who put a lot of pressure on opposing point guards. They were both excellent at breaking down defenses off the dribble. They could pull up and hit outside shots or mid-range jumpers. They were excellent passers in the open floor and in the half court offense.

Santangelo was the same kind of player and he was not that much better than they were. He just had a deeper team around him when his team caught fire in the '99 tournament.

gamagin
10-07-2010, 11:02 AM
excellent report.

gozagswoohoo
10-07-2010, 01:19 PM
excellent report.

DITTO!

OZZY
10-07-2010, 02:38 PM
Go Zags, thanks for the history lesson for us newer Zag followers.

I firmly believe that Kevin was meant to be a Zag, and mentioned to BZ (off board) over two years ago that he would end up being a hot commodity.

FYI the other day on the Gaels board someone asked why GU was called Guard U and some very knowledgable Gael posters provided very supportive responses. Go Zags excellent post would provide even more backup.

Over the net 2-3 years the WCC (especially GU, The Gaels and the Broncos) are going to have some brilliant 4 year guards.

810Suited
10-08-2010, 04:38 AM
Point Guard U is the about the NBA, Gonzaga doesn't qualify.

SunDevilGolfZag
10-08-2010, 04:46 AM
Point Guard U is the about the NBA, Gonzaga doesn't qualify.

Actually, the genises of the "Guard U" moniker for Gonzaga was John Stockton -- not a bad NBA player by the way;)

810Suited
10-08-2010, 04:59 AM
Actually, the genises of the "Guard U" moniker for Gonzaga was John Stockton -- not a bad NBA player by the way;)

Gaurd U is a well documented and appropo name for Gonzaga, however to say they are contending to take away the title of Point Gaurd U from Arizona is wrong. John Stockton was soo far gone from college, when Arizona earned the moniker PGU, I am not sure how you can bring him up. There are quite a few schools that could contend for the title, because Arizona has been struggling recently, but it is not Gonzaga.

GoZags
10-08-2010, 06:23 AM
Gaurd U is a well documented and appropo name for Gonzaga, however to say they are contending to take away the title of Point Gaurd U from Arizona is wrong. John Stockton was soo far gone from college, when Arizona earned the moniker PGU, I am not sure how you can bring him up. There are quite a few schools that could contend for the title, because Arizona has been struggling recently, but it is not Gonzaga.

Please let me know who in the world is proposing that GU takes the moniker of "Point Guard U" away from Arizona?

Just because a writer/publisher of an Arizona Wildcat website inferred in '03 that the reference Point Guard U may apply to the Zags (and that guard play was a reason for GU's rise to prominence) -- and that since that time 5 WCC POY awards have gone to Zag guards doesn't mean GU has stripped the title away from Arizona. I'm not sure where you came up with that hypothesis.

gamagin
10-08-2010, 11:49 AM
Actually, the genises of the "Guard U" moniker for Gonzaga was John Stockton -- not a bad NBA player by the way;)

no one has a patent on this name or claim. But the genesis for GU as Guard U is definitely JS.

northsidezagfan
10-08-2010, 11:58 AM
You know, that '03 Arizona game was by far the best game I have ever watched (of any sport), and I didn't even get to see most of it. Even vs. Florida wasn't as good as that game was (very close) It was so intense, and magnified because I was watching it in the Arena on the big screen as the tourney was here in town. Awesome game.

Same here. It was awesome to see people trickle out of their seats during whatever game was going on and pack around the tvs on the concourse. The arena had to have been half empty before they turned it on the big screen.