View Full Version : Touchy Subject?

02-08-2011, 06:28 AM
Without trying to create International bad will, or sound disrespectful to the loyalties of our foreign players---Could all this international team play be hurting our Gonzaga team. We are recruiting extremely talented foreign athletes, but I can't help but notice they are also tied to-"Doesn't know the defense/offense.---year round wear and tear---burn-out---how can they look so good in the summer and .....". Should we ask/insist on recruits that want to focus on Gonzaga basketball as priority #1. spend time (summer) TOGETHER as a team, rather than assembling in the fall as an all-star team.? Would they function better as a unit? I just throw out the question. I understand it is an athletes right and honor to represent their country, but has it had any factor in our Gonzaga team?

02-08-2011, 06:33 AM
Steven Gray?

We are looking for answers in soooo many places...

02-08-2011, 07:53 AM
I just heard an interview with Patty Mills the other day regarding the way he and Rudy Fernandez have become close friends. The reason he says is because both having come from other countries and cultures, they struggle at times to understand how to fit with (and understand) the Americans. They lean on each other for sanity check.

Not that we have that exact same issue here, we do have many different cultures to marry up and I wonder at times if there is some sense of uncertainty to our great European athletes. That is, are they a bit timid or afraid to play the game as they were taught? There are adjustments as we know, but these are people with bonafide feelings like everyone else and one does wonder about how comfortable and loose they feel here.

As for playing the Euro league, yeah I think it is counterproductive totally because they just go back and get reinforcement on playing a different kind of game and then back here for.... well, perhaps Elias could reflect on that.

02-08-2011, 08:08 AM
We seem to hear this every summer, about the great opportunities playing summer ball for your country, but it seems to bring about the opposite effect. Not saying that's the problem with this years team, but it would be nice to have just one summer working as a team and focusing on individual developments.

02-08-2011, 09:32 AM
We are looking for answers in soooo many places...

I agree and its an interesting observation for a thread. I don't believe its any one singular problem with the team this year. Instead, the cumulative effect of numerous factors have played into this being a year that has not met expectations. While the international play has seemingly been a detriment to Elias' play this year, I believe Rob has improved a great deal. However, I don't believe it was Rob's playing with the Canadian team which helped him a great deal but the work he put in before leaving for the international tourny. I too hope that members of the team learn from this and stick around this summer to work on their individual games and bond to form a more cohesive unit.

02-08-2011, 09:35 AM
I am going to go against what seems to be one of the more popular narratives on the board and say that I don't think playing with their respective national teams has much if anything to do with the team's struggles. It is now February. These guys have had months playing together. If they cannot play together as a team after this long, it is on them, and the coaches.
An argument can be made possibly about player development over the summer, but I don't really buy that either. If a player wants to put in the effort to work on his game, he does not need to be at Gonzaga to do it. My guess is that Harris has been told he is NBA bound, so he thought he did not need to work on anything. Sacre played for his national team and has probably improved his game more than anyone.
Let the kids play for their countries and find something else to try to pin the team's problems on.

02-08-2011, 01:35 PM
Elias is just plain wore out. It happens. He's good and needs to rest his joints. Probably his Achilles as well. He needs to stay here in Summer.

MM and Keita aren't proven just yet. One problem when finding overseas players is being able to watch them on a long and consistent basis. I suspect Few and Tommy get films but I don't know if they get to see full games which might show some weaknesses the coach won't know about.

JP Batista was foreign but he played where everyone could see him in his 2 years of JC ball.

It's a problem of being able to fully evaluate a kid when he's 1000's of miles away. MM and Keita have shown periods of brilliance. Neither is experienced though and I didn't expect a full bucket of skills from either. SO they come and they learn.

From I can tell, we've lots more of American kids that didn't prove out than foreign kids. It's a problem though. Perhaps a solution is some redshirt rime for a longer look.

I suspect we want all kids recruited to come in and be stars. Any deviation will raise eyebrows. We've had lots of deviation this year. Not worried about the foreign kids. It's every kid we bring....many stars in HS...and then they don't put up number like in HS. In some ways it's like HS play doesn't always translate into good college play. Similarly sone kids are superior in College but fall apart in the NBA. It's not coaching or preparation when a kid simply cannot ascend. It's just the kid. It happens. Tough to predict who will and who won't develop.

Steven's another story. In my opinion, he's become soft. Maybe it's his other areas of interest. Who knows! Plateau's are hard to predict.

Finally though, if we could recruit effectively in the US, I suspect we wouldn't be looking overseas. Kids come.....they give us a chance and we give them a chance. Sometimes it works and sometime's it's the flipside.

02-08-2011, 02:07 PM
I totally agree with the above comments, but my question is not so much in regards to talent evaluation as the elements not coming together. We have assembled a pretty good group of talent, just seems like no one seems to know what the other is doing. Time together helps a unit gel, and these players are all playing as individuals, rather than a unit. Not saying they don't get along, or have ego problems- just can't anticipate what the others next move will be. "Teams" only improve when the "team mates" improve as a unit. Hard to do when your all over the world(Steven included) Not faulting them as individuals for taking advantage of the opportunities presented, just not helping GU. I also think it has placed a huge burden on the coaches in trying to assemble a lineup DURING the season, rather than before. Yes, selfish as a fan, but my priority is GU Basketball; not the NBA, World Championships etc. etc.

U Zig, I Zag
02-08-2011, 03:01 PM
All-around good players, with high IQ should be able to come together and play well, regardless of language barriers, etc.

Watch the offense, not a whole lot goes on. Or if it is supposed to be complex it doesn't seem like it. Take MM for instance. Him just floating the perimeter, getting the ball and immediately giving it back to whomever just passed it to him has nothing to do with language, time spent together, etc. It's all fear and lack of confidence.

These kids need to trust their instincts a bit more, trust their teamates more and go with the flow of the game better. Not a fan of selfish players, but other than maybe E, we have no selfish players. Nobody 'wants' it. I wouldn't mind a few guys screaming and calling for the ball because they want to take a shot.

My opinion? Keep everyone as close to Spokane as possible. If international play is helping and we are seeing the fruits of that labor now then I can't imagine how bad we might be if staying in Spokane made it worse... right now, it looks like it doesn't help too much. Might as well try the alternative.

maynard g krebs
02-08-2011, 05:39 PM
It's debatable how much is due to time together vs. due to bb iq. The program rose largely due to the passing and shooting abilities of terrific guards who came mostly from the Northwest: Santangelo, Frahm, Floyd, Bankhead, Dickau, Stepp.

One of the Seattle NBA guys was recently asked about the incredible number of Puget Sound players in the NBA recently, and said "it's the rain", i.e. kids here become gym rats and develop their skills. Also, NW high school coaching seems to generally be excellent. That combo leads to highly skilled players here, and the Zag teams that made the program a national figure were founded on teamwork rather than star power.

That made for great and exciting bb, but those teams had a ceiling- at some point in the tourney, they'd face a game where they were a longshot based solely on athleticism. So, the staff made a decision to recruit more athleticism and try to teach bb iq.

Overall, the results are no better, and this year is sort of a perfect storm of issues. But that's happened at UCLA, North Carolina, Michigan State, so it had to happen here sooner or later. Experimentation is how anyone learns, including bb coaches.

I think we'll see a return to something closer to what Zag bb used to look like when the new group of guards gets a season under their belt.

Great topic, btw. Nothing touchy about it at all. Good thought provoker.

02-08-2011, 05:47 PM
We're not out of it just yet. Our kids will shine soon. Up against it for sure. Good thoughts make good things happen.

02-08-2011, 06:04 PM
Comment from a coach. "Don't underestimate the difficulties the language barrier has caused with some players.

02-08-2011, 06:44 PM
While I can certainly see the point of having the players together on campus during the summer and building camaraderie, I think there is great value in playing overseas. While at GU, the players can certainly play and train, but there is strict limits on coaching per se (Someone more in the know can outline the out of season limits on coaching). While overseas and playing for their national team, the players get intense instruction from coaches and often are playing competitively against a good caliber of players. Learning and running the GU offense can only go so far when you don't have coaching involved. I think it's a trade-off of pluses and minuses for kids playing internationally.

I'm more worried about issues of kids playing too much and being burned out for the long season. Even though they are young, they need time off to recharge and refresh.