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TacomaZAG
12-08-2012, 09:57 PM
Here are 3 things that I get so tired of seeing when we play big games against good teams:

1. Way too many turnovers. Illinois had 20 points off 16 ZAG TO's tonight. If we turn it over 16 times against a good team, we lose, everytime.

2. Lack of ability to defend the 3-point shot. This has been a continuing issue for over a decade, so we might as well get used to it. It is a systemic issue and isn't going to change.

3. Lack of defensive imagination. It's not a coincidence that guys like Brandon Paul, Draymond Green, Jimmer Fredette, Stephon Curry, and others have torched the ZAGS for career nights. It is no mystery that these guys are elite athletes and their team's offenses are built around them, so I would just once like to see a defense designed to stop the other team's star and make someone else beat us. I'm not talking about holding this guy to no points, just to his average or less and make someone else pick up the slack. "Keeping Sawing Wood" is not a defensive strategy.

This not a sky is falling thread, just an observation. IMHO, we can fix the TO issue and the lack of defensive imagination, but the lack of ability to defend the three is here to stay. If we don't at least get the TO issue fixed we are looking at another first weekend exit from the dance.

Go ZAGS

Oregonzagnut
12-08-2012, 10:00 PM
Playing right into our opponents game plan, ignoring the thousands of people who told us, go inside hard and often and defend the three.

we had fresh legs and we let them sit. Our bigs shot 75% yet never had them lay together in order to keep Harris at the 4.

siliconzag
12-08-2012, 10:39 PM
Mr. Brandon Paul, who is one of the best players I've ever watched said the following according to the ESPN recap. "I didn't want to rely too much on the 3, but they were giving me open shots." Crowd noise doesn't intimidate the ball from going in the hoop when you have wide open looks.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no way that a Gonzaga team will ever learn to defend the three point shot. It is not going to happen. Given that, where was the offensive immagination tonight? If you can't play defense, score a lot more points than your opponents and you still win. We were exposed tonight, and our early season success was due to playing teams that turned out to be less good than they usually are.

We need to have a credible threat from the wing. Without it, we're destined to repeat history against teams with taller, quicker guards. The biggest difference in tonights game, was the turnovers. We must take better care of the ball.

When it is all said and done, give Illinois credit. I don't think they will challenge for the League Championship, but they will make the tournament and will advance at least one round. We need to adjust expectations Zag fans. Final four talk is nonsense.

Sili

Zag79
12-09-2012, 12:55 AM
Here are 3 things that I get so tired of seeing when we play big games against good teams:

1. Way too many turnovers. Illinois had 20 points off 16 ZAG TO's tonight. If we turn it over 16 times against a good team, we lose, everytime.

2. Lack of ability to defend the 3-point shot. This has been a continuing issue for over a decade, so we might as well get used to it. It is a systemic issue and isn't going to change.

3. Lack of defensive imagination. It's not a coincidence that guys like Brandon Paul, Draymond Green, Jimmer Fredette, Stephon Curry, and others have torched the ZAGS for career nights. It is no mystery that these guys are elite athletes and their team's offenses are built around them, so I would just once like to see a defense designed to stop the other team's star and make someone else beat us. I'm not talking about holding this guy to no points, just to his average or less and make someone else pick up the slack. "Keeping Sawing Wood" is not a defensive strategy.

This not a sky is falling thread, just an observation. IMHO, we can fix the TO issue and the lack of defensive imagination, but the lack of ability to defend the three is here to stay. If we don't at least get the TO issue fixed we are looking at another first weekend exit from the dance.

Go ZAGS

+1... Need a defensive guru to sign on board under Few, look at what Donny has done with the bigs.

GrizZAG
12-09-2012, 04:06 AM
B Paul is awesome not a question about it, but from what I saw there was a lot of other high level talent we could not ignore on the floor at the same time. They are loaded with pure athleticism, size and quickness.
We came out loose and got tighter as the game progressed. I felt perhaps the whistle took some wind out of our loose style of play early on and we got a bit tentative for stretches. We also backed off on the intense D we had in the first ten minutes. (seen that before) They were more confident and we got a hair rattled it seemed for stretches.

We talk a lot about defending the three. Anybody out there want to take a shot at sharing the technical description of how that is done? Solutions and positive input welcome.

TexasZag
12-09-2012, 05:48 AM
...a basketball team is really no different from any other organization. Change is a slow and painful process; to change the culture of any organization usually takes several years. With that having been said, the real measure of change is stress. Because the brain more or less shuts down the intellect when under stress, it is how we respond under stress that provides the best indicator of where we are with respect to implementing change. In this sense, coaches and basketball players are no different from anyone else. This is not an indictment of Coach Few or the guys, but a testament to the power of human nature.

We can play physical and tough when we are in control (last two games against a tough and physical West Virginia come to mind), but when things start to go south and we are put under stress, the tendency is to regress. The simple reality is that we will continue to struggle against elite, athletic teams until new, preferred behaviors become instinctual.

When the environment is highly turbulent and emotional, staying with a different strategy or game plan can be especially challenging. It is during the heat of the battle--when it appears that the team tends to get conservative--especially that the coaches (and to a lesser degree the players) need to a) understand the innate challenges of maintaining cognizant of goals and objectives under difficult situations and b) have a mechanism in place to bring everyone back to the plan so as to be able to make the necessary mid-stream corrections.

With all that having been said, the coaching staff may very well be operating under such a framework. I believe that the purpose of scheduling these kinds of games is to measure our progress and prepare us for March. If the team evaluates its performance objectively and can use this experience to continue to work on staying with the program--so to speak--under adversity, then "mission accomplished."

We never expected to go 30-0. We learned in the first half that we can play with the big boys. But we should have also learned that we do not respond particularly well when things aren't trending in our favor. Organizationally, we must recognize the natural propensity to act according to human nature, especially under difficult circumstances. By doing so, maybe we can learn to respond more positively to adversity.

bartruff1
12-09-2012, 06:01 AM
Mr. Brandon Paul, who is one of the best players I've ever watched said the following according to the ESPN recap. "I didn't want to rely too much on the 3, but they were giving me open shots." Crowd noise doesn't intimidate the ball from going in the hoop when you have wide open looks.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no way that a Gonzaga team will ever learn to defend the three point shot. It is not going to happen. Given that, where was the offensive immagination tonight? If you can't play defense, score a lot more points than your opponents and you still win. We were exposed tonight, and our early season success was due to playing teams that turned out to be less good than they usually are.

We need to have a credible threat from the wing. Without it, we're destined to repeat history against teams with taller, quicker guards. The biggest difference in tonights game, was the turnovers. We must take better care of the ball.

When it is all said and done, give Illinois credit. I don't think they will challenge for the League Championship, but they will make the tournament and will advance at least one round. We need to adjust expectations Zag fans. Final four talk is nonsense.

Sili I would only add that Gonzaga will have very few players who can defend the three by big athletic guards and that illinois adjusted and made the entry pass very difficult.

Bardo and the fans don't know anythng the coaches don't.

Illinois players are very quick and caused the turn overs. You can't make mid major passes against those kind of athletes.

They played a hell of a game in a difficult environment and won it...and they deserve all the credit.

1973Zag
12-09-2012, 07:00 AM
The reality is that we can't get the tall elite guards that seem to beat us in the big games. No knock on our players, but with their talent; if KP or GJB were 6'5", they probably would be at a factory school. Not for lack of trying, but we usually lose out on our original recruits once the factory schools get involved ( or they become "not Zag material". We get " very good", but not "5 star elite"- (a bit slow, short, some shortcoming that the elites can pass on). We do the best with what we have, but it sometimes shows when we play the the top teams. No one's fault, just reality. I am in NO WAY criticizing our players, they are better than probably 90%, it's that 10% that we have not quite conquered. Possibly we might regret getting the baggage that comes with what many wish for- I like the student athletes we get.

TexasZag
12-09-2012, 07:29 AM
Our recruiting challenges are probably not so unlike the challenges that Notre Dame faces when it comes to recruiting blue chip football talent. Generally speaking, neither school seems willing to lower its standards or compromise on character for the sake of recruiting more athletic and talented players. Notre Dame fell out of relevance for a long time because of it. Ultimately (though through a number of coaching changes), Notre Dame learned how to recruit in spite of these constraints and are now playing for the national championship.

While Gonzaga's profile is high for a mid-major, a lot of 5-star recruits believe they have the talent to play at the NBA level believe their best chance for success is through a high profile program in a BCS conference and thus likely won't give us serious consideration until something gives--such as until the Zags show they can have success in the tournament (e.g., make a couple of appearance in the Final Four) or the school can put players in the NBA who make an impact at that level--or they simply are not good fits character and academic-wise for the program. Regardless, we need to continue to work on our visibility and overall attractiveness.

Notre Dame eventually got there, so can we.

TacomaZAG
12-09-2012, 07:50 AM
I agree with both these posts, but I don't think our lack of ability to defend the 3 is due to our guys inferior size and/or athleticism. And these comments are directed at games against good teams and elite guards.

IMHO, for over a decade, the defensive strategy has been for the guards to sag and help the bigs, because our bigs were over matched against the bigger, major conference schools, especially in games that were basically a brawl in the paint. When you sag on the perimeter, you give up open looks from the perimeter. But it was the lesser of two evils as our bigs needed the help. Protect the paint, and hope they miss enough from 3 so we can outscore them.

Now, and for at least next year as well, we have an abundance of talented bigs. So, this is where Texas' analysis comes in. We need a big change in defensive strategy because our bigs can more than hold their own with everybody.

Let's scrap the sag and help defense on the perimeter, plus the weak cheat and hedge on high ball screens. Have the guards fight over/through the screen and let our bigs guard the paint when the opposing guards get by our perimeter defenders and into the paint. The guards need to "stay home" and guard the drive and dish.

Also, we are at the point where we can make other teams adjust to us rather than, like the last decade, do everything we can to match up with the opposition. Play to our strengths instead of sacrificing our strengths to try and minimize the opposition strengths. Against most teams, even most good teams, we are holding the stronger overall hand and should push it.

None of this matters against the likes of Pepperdine and Portland, but we need a different defensive strategy against teams with elite guards. We can use the OOC and conference to change the mindset of our perimeter defenders and get ready for March. We have the personnel in the paint this year (talent and depth) that we have lacked for over a decade.

Go ZAGS

Vanzagger
12-09-2012, 08:55 AM
I think we have gotten some tall elite guards. We love to make them forwards. If I was a big guard who wanted to play in the league I would stay away from GU as long as Few is here.

zagzilla
12-09-2012, 09:52 AM
I would feel better about this if I thought Illinois was simply the better team and we didn't have the talent to compete. However, we had the advantages we needed to win and did not bring them to bear.

This wasn't bout recruiting it was about strategy, tactics and exectuion.

Huge missed opportunity for us.

ZZ

bostonzagfan
12-09-2012, 10:07 AM
I think we have gotten some tall elite guards. We love to make them forwards. If I was a big guard who wanted to play in the league I would stay away from GU as long as Few is here.

care to name any?

piercy767
12-09-2012, 09:52 PM
While giving up a million 3-balls seems to happen in the majority of games we lose, the bigger problem lies in the way Few & Co. decide to guard the pick and roll. We are the worst P&R defensive team I watch on a yearly basis and we choose not address this major issue. I really feel we guard the way we do because we are lazy and it helps us get out and run. My plan would be as follows:

1. NEVER switch an on ball screen with a big and a guard. I'm fine with switching guard on guard, but that's it. The only exception would be switch everything very late in the shot clock.

2. When we hedge/show, do it vertically up the court (towards other basket) and not at an angle and also with conviction. We avoid the guard splitting the defenders with this and stopping guard momentum allows our guards to recover.
Karnowski actually does this fairly well, but has been called for cheap fouls this way - you can tell he was coached well in Europe as on ball screens are huge over there.

3. We MUST fight over/though all ball screens or the big must provide enough time for the guard to go under the ball screen. Shooters we must fight over, drivers we go under.

4. If the ball handler is able to turn the corner (which will happen sometimes), the strong side defender MUST stay with the wing on the 3-pt. line. We do not need help from that individual as we give up way too many threes when the strong side guard cheats to provide help on a drive. We should let the big guarding the paint act as the help defense in this situation.

5. Rush/trap/Blitz the ball handler every once in a while to simply get the ball out of their hands. The might get it back later in the possession but at least we create some pressure on the handler.

I think we can use variations of this depending on the ball handler/screener and the type of team we play. We tend to get lazy and when that happens we don't fight through screens as hard as we could, or we simply switch the screen which creates two horrible mismatches. Saint Mary's & Butler and two teams that utilize ball screens well and unless we shore this up I can see these games providing major issues for us.

Vanzagger
12-10-2012, 12:31 AM
care to name any?

Pendo was the best player in talent rich WA state. We got him early but some BCS schools still lurked anyway

Calhoun called Bouldin "Pistol Pete"

Our own BobZag compared Gray to Ray Allen. Got him early too thank god.

Austin Daye had huge growth spurt but I think played a lot of guard in HS(same w Adam)

Manny and Gibbs you may not put in the elite category but one has a high ceiling and one was blowing up the AAU circuit when we secured him.

Tinsley and Harris I think we were in on and wanted to be Zags. How good would those two have been with the talented front courts we've had?

All played guard in HS and if made it to campus played more 3,4,or bench than 1 or 2. Few can buy into playing bigger back courts. It's up to him.