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View Full Version : IMHO this team SEEMS to have something not seen since 1999-2001



ZagsGoZags
03-26-2015, 04:56 PM
Raising the level of play following the WCC season

I will admit I did not start watching zags until 2002, and did not became crazed until about 2004, so I am going off of info picked up on this board, and the win loss record of the zag teams 1999-2001 as they entered the Big Dance

Since 2005 I remember thinking to myself that other teams could raise their level of play during the Dance, beyond their average, or business as usual, for their conference play, and thinking 'why don't we ever do this anymore?'.

Other posters, as well as sometimes myself, have made observations to this effect.

This is the first time I can recall where the zags seem to be peaking, raising their level of play greatly since the WCC game with SF Dons. Now the raised level looks a lot like some of our games in the Fall 14, so I am not claiming they are playing 'out of their heads', merely that in the last month there seems to be a marked increase in our intensity and focus, and there couldn't be a better time in the whole season than now to be peaking.

Anybody think of one year between 2004 and 2014 where the zags were clearly playing at a higher level in the Dance than the WCC conference play?

seacatfan
03-26-2015, 05:07 PM
Anybody think of one year between 2004 and 2014 where the zags were clearly playing at a higher level in the Dance than the WCC conference play?

Not really. In 2006 the Zags were playing great for about 2/3 or 3/4 of the game against UCLA, but we all know how that ended up. There's some kind of mythology that's developed that if only the '09 team didn't run into North Carolina, they could've made a deep run. That same team wasn't overly impressive in the first round against Akron and needed a buzzer beater in OT to get past Western Kentucky. In my opinion if they didn't lose to UNC they just would've lost to someone else. That team had a lot of talent but played well below their capability.

Just my pet theory, but I think the biggest difference this year is Wiltjer. Just brings something a little different to the table. A couple times in the first 2 Tourney games this year, when the other team was starting to chip away at the Zags lead, Wiltjer would hit a couple shots and squash the rally. It's like he's not gonna let them lose. No sign of him playing tight or being scared of the moment. Plenty of other Zags played well in both games, but it just seems like Wiltjer has an attitude and approach to the post season that's been missing for a long time.

gonzagafan62
03-26-2015, 05:21 PM
2009 seemed pretty good too. I wish we would have played anyone but UNC

seacatfan
03-26-2015, 05:24 PM
2009 seemed pretty good too. I wish we would have played anyone but UNC

Do you really think they played well in the 1st or 2nd round? I don't. They advanced, but it's not like they played anybody noteworthy.

gonzagafan62
03-26-2015, 05:31 PM
Do you really think they played well in the 1st or 2nd round? I don't. They advanced, but it's not like they played anybody noteworthy.

They played well in the Akron game from what I recall. Akron ran out of has. It not like Orlando Mendez-Valdez from western Kentucky wasn't contested or just jacking up wide open threes. Most of them were crazy shots that were going in. If we played anyone but UNC we would have been fine. The sad part is..... Losing that UCoNN game was absolutely the killer ... Playing well? In my opinion yes. It may not be popular to some but I think we did. We had a pretty good lead with two minutes left and then you had a three by Valdez and then a foul on Valdez that wasn't called that would have sealed it. I think we did play well. The UNC game wasn't pretty. That's the perception people get though is your last game. It's not a fair judgement

DixieZag
03-26-2015, 05:38 PM
It seems to me that, especially Kelly's senior year, we were playing well at the end of the WCC tourney - recall Kelly on SC Top 10? And, then the weight of expectations crashed on our head. Southern played like a 10 seed and nearly kicked us out. And Wichita did what it did. But, before we got to the NCAAs, we were playing at a high level.

This year, we played well from Pepp on. Iowa was the best we've played since AZ.

seacatfan
03-26-2015, 05:39 PM
They played well in the Akron game from what I recall. Akron ran out of has. It not like Orlando Mendez-Valdez from western Kentucky wasn't contested or just jacking up wide open threes. Most of them were crazy shots that were going in. If we played anyone but UNC we would have been fine. The sad part is..... Losing that UCoNN game was absolutely the killer ... Playing well? In my opinion yes. It may not be popular to some but I think we did. We had a pretty good lead with two minutes left and then you had a three by Valdez and then a foul on Valdez that wasn't called that would have sealed it. I think we did play well. The UNC game wasn't pretty. That's the perception people get though is your last game. It's not a fair judgement

They were coasting against Akron, it wasn't an impressive performance. Had a big lead late against Western Kentucky and blew it. UNC wasn't the only good team that year. Louisville and UConn were both loaded. I think either of them would've beaten GU easily. And Michigan St. beat both of those teams, so Sparty would've handled the Zags too. If it wasn't UNC, they would've played somebody pretty good that round.

gonzagafan62
03-26-2015, 06:40 PM
They were coasting against Akron, it wasn't an impressive performance. Had a big lead late against Western Kentucky and blew it. UNC wasn't the only good team that year. Louisville and UConn were both loaded. I think either of them would've beaten GU easily. And Michigan St. beat both of those teams, so Sparty would've handled the Zags too. If it wasn't UNC, they would've played somebody pretty good that round.

Everyone had a feeling UNC wa the most powerful team that year. Didn't unc handle michigan state pretty easily? I'm not so sure.... And zags didn't exactly start coasting against Akron till like 10 mind to go in second half when Steven gray hit a 3 to out zags up 50-49 I believe. Either way I'll agree to disagree. I think that was a heck of a team an plays well. They had a big lead and blew it against wku but they did win didn't they?

ZagsGoZags
03-26-2015, 07:01 PM
It seems to me that, especially Kelly's senior year, we were playing well at the end of the WCC tourney - recall Kelly on SC Top 10? And, then the weight of expectations crashed on our head. Southern played like a 10 seed and nearly kicked us out. And Wichita did what it did. But, before we got to the NCAAs, we were playing at a high level.

This year, we played well from Pepp on. Iowa was the best we've played since AZ.

yes, but in a way that is what I mean.
2013 we played well in WCC Tournament,
but,
I had a strong impression when we played Southern and Wichita St. that our defensive intensity was below that of some of the last games in the WCC .
So, to me, 2013 was a year when we were not peaking or even most intense during the Dance

this year, with a slight pause for the NDSU game, we have looked GREAT on effort, focus and intensity for Pepp game and BYU game in WCC tourney, and Iowa, the trend is so wonderful, and timely right now

jazzdelmar
03-26-2015, 07:24 PM
Zona overtime game was about as good a tourney game as Zags have ever played.

Once and Future Zag
03-26-2015, 07:37 PM
There's some kind of mythology that's developed that if only the '09 team didn't run into North Carolina, they could've made a deep run. That same team wasn't overly impressive in the first round against Akron and needed a buzzer beater in OT to get past Western Kentucky. In my opinion if they didn't lose to UNC they just would've lost to someone else. That team had a lot of talent but played well below their capability.


Count me as one of those, and I was on that bandwagon going into the tourney - don't forget that the 2009 team had the #1 2P shot defense.

It was live by the 3 or die by the 3 for them for the most part - and that ended up being reflected extended to the UNC game... though UNC outplayed GU in all facets. Also, for what it's worth, Gonzaga scored more points against UNC than any other team in the tourney.

mgadfly
03-26-2015, 10:40 PM
They were coasting against Akron, it wasn't an impressive performance. Had a big lead late against Western Kentucky and blew it. UNC wasn't the only good team that year. Louisville and UConn were both loaded. I think either of them would've beaten GU easily. And Michigan St. beat both of those teams, so Sparty would've handled the Zags too. If it wasn't UNC, they would've played somebody pretty good that round.

The same Lousiville that lost to Western Kentucky?

My recollection is we played great in the first round. When I saw the draw that year I was disappointed Western Kentucky was in our bracket. They had a couple guys that could really shoot from the outside, and had good size (for a mid major) inside with a good scorer if I recall. They'd lost some games they shouldn't (as teams that rely heavily on the three pointer often do) but they'd won some games (the double digit win against LVille being the one I remember) that had me worried. I wasn't surprised they beat the Illiini who I thought was over seeded and kind of bad down the stretch.

And what really gives me heart burn about the 2009 season is how good we could have been if our most physical post player hadn't been injured. I thought he complimented Daye and Josh really well and gave us a toughness that we needed. Injuries are part of the game, but that particular one hurt bad because it forced everyone to play out of position.

seacatfan
03-26-2015, 10:48 PM
The same Lousiville that lost to Western Kentucky?

My recollection is we played great in the first round. When I saw the draw that year I was disappointed Western Kentucky was in our bracket. They had a couple guys that could really shoot from the outside, and had good size (for a mid major) inside with a good scorer if I recall. They'd lost some games they shouldn't (as teams that rely heavily on the three pointer often do) but they'd won some games (the double digit win against LVille being the one I remember) that had me worried. I wasn't surprised they beat the Illiini who I thought was over seeded and kind of bad down the stretch.

And what really gives me heart burn about the 2009 season is how good we could have been if our most physical post player hadn't been injured. I thought he complimented Daye and Josh really well and gave us a toughness that we needed. Injuries are part of the game, but that particular one hurt bad because it forced everyone to play out of position.

Didn't realize Western Kentucky beat Louisville that year. The Cards had some studs in Terence Williams and Earl Clark, can't remember who else they had.

Maybe it's just me. I don't remember being particularly impressed with the Zags performance in either game the opening weekend. They advanced, but nothing about it indicated to me they were gonna keep on moving along.

Yeah the Sacre injury was a bummer, happened early on though. Daye played out of his natural position his whole career at GU.

bartruff1
03-27-2015, 04:54 AM
Nope....I don't think so...seems to me most of the teams are that way.....the competition is a lot better post season...

Reborn
03-27-2015, 05:58 AM
I pretty much agree with bartruff. This conception that Gonzaga chokes, or place worse in the NCAA Tournmant is nothing but a bad rumor that started with negative thinking people, and has continued because of them. I know Mark Few does not believe this, nor do any of his players. First, it has to be recognized that the NCAA Tournament is as great as it is because the level of play in it, by almost all the teams, is unbelievably good. And it needs to be recognized that there are going to be upsets, and especially in the first two rounds. And last it has to be recognized that the level of play in the NCAA Tournament is going to be tougher then it is in the WCC on most nights. There are years when teams like St Mary's and BYU are really good and the games with them are equal to games in the NCAA Tournament in the first two rounds.

To me there are two reasons that it might appear that Gonzaga has played below their standards in the NCAA Tournament. But I would rather say that their have been years that the team has not played up to the expectations of their fans, and the NCAA sports writers and analysts. I have always believed that for any team to make it to the Sweet 16 in this tournament has had a great tournament, and a great year. It is unbelievably difficult to make it to the Sweet 16. And I also believe that it is even pretty darn hard to make it to the Round of 32. There are so many upsets every year in the first year it is almost unbelievable, and it is precisely because of these upsets that this tournament is so popular. The fans truly DO NOT KNOW which teams are going to be the ones who will fall. I am always the most worried about losing in the first round. And yet, Gonzaga has an incredible record of winning in the first round. They are in the top 5 of all of college basketball in this category. I'd say the same thing Mark Few said recently in an interview, "that's pretty good company to be in." He was referring to the other 4 teams. I think they were Kansas, Duke, Michigan St, and someone else.

There has only been one year when I think that the Zags lost to a team that was ranked below them, and that was 2013-14, and we all know by now that the main reason the Zags lost that game was because of the injury to Gary Bell. And we could also say that sometimes a team gets so hot that no one could probably beat them that night. It happens every year in this tournament. And in 2013-14 it was a combination of these two things that led to the Zags' loss. It was not because the team didn't play well. With Gary out in that game they were just not as good as when he was in there. And in the 2009 tournament we all know that we lost because UNC was just too good for anyone. Probably like Kentucky this year. And IN THIS TOURNAMENT it DOES NOT matter whether yu win by one point or twenty points. The key is to JUST ADVANCE.

And I don't really want to talk about the UCLA loss in '06. But please, don't try to convince me that it was because the team didn't play well. Or that they choked. The most important thing about UCLA is that we are playing them tonight. We'll soon see how THIS game goes. I think that many of us agree that this is our best team ever, and because of that they should win tonight and get back to the Elite 8. Can anyone guarantee that? Heck no. Things happen like they did in '06. That was a pretty great team, and I would never ever think that they loss by any other reason then that it was their fate to lose. At some point in order to move on from that loss, I had to admit that.

So if it is not "raising their level of play in the NCAA Tournament" what is it about this team that we haven't seen since '99? It's called talent. This is really a very talented team. The second is our bench. Sabonis and Dranginis are the best players that Gonzaga has had since those years. And last but not least, I believe the chemistry on this team is the BEST I've seen since 99.

ZagsGoZags
03-27-2015, 06:15 AM
Hi Reborn, I don't see us playing below our standard in the Dance anytime in the last ten years that I recall. My eye test says 3 or our last 4 games we have played above our level of play in Feb. And that I have not seen in the last decade, a purely subjective impression. In sports some teams, and some athletes can and do raise their level of play for big games. I think of SF in baseball. In tennis I have known some players who could peak for tournaments and focus at a level for awhile they could not sustain for the regular season. Also I am not referring to our opponents at all; not in the least. I am referring only to our team's level of play compared to its regular conference season. Other than that I agree with everything you said. Incidentally I would like to thank you for your posts. Reading your posts is like getting an education on BB and also on the ins and outs of our team.
Big game tonight ...

TacomaZAG
03-27-2015, 07:35 AM
So if it is not "raising their level of play in the NCAA Tournament" what is it about this team that we haven't seen since '99? It's called talent. This is really a very talented team. The second is our bench. Sabonis and Dranginis are the best players that Gonzaga has had since those years. And last but not least, I believe the chemistry on this team is the BEST I've seen since 99.

I agree Reborn, with one caveat..........This is the first year where the guys (and staff) appear to be "playing loose". They are just playing, not overthinking it and not over reacting. The Few handstand says it all for me, never, ever, thought he would do something like that. Also, Coach's comment after the Iowa game that at times he wasn't even coaching, the guys just knew what to do and did it. HUGE props to KP and GBJ for their senior leadership, I think that is what is making Coach so comfortable and allowing him to loosen the reins. Plus, KW's hot shooting doesn't hurt..........

Go ZAGS

Reborn
03-27-2015, 07:47 AM
Hi Reborn, I don't see us playing below our standard in the Dance anytime in the last ten years that I recall. My eye test says 3 or our last 4 games we have played above our level of play in Feb. And that I have not seen in the last decade, a purely subjective impression. In sports some teams, and some athletes can and do raise their level of play for big games. I think of SF in baseball. In tennis I have known some players who could peak for tournaments and focus at a level for awhile they could not sustain for the regular season. Also I am not referring to our opponents at all; not in the least. I am referring only to our team's level of play compared to its regular conference season. Other than that I agree with everything you said. Incidentally I would like to thank you for your posts. Reading your posts is like getting an education on BB and also on the ins and outs of our team.
Big game tonight ...

Thanks for the kind words. And I know exactly what you're saying. And you are right. There are definitely higher levels of focus, intensity and yes play. And a team will need to rise to those higher levels in BIG Tournaments like the NCAA Basketball Tournament. And yes I agree that it applies to all sports. Like you said we see this in tennis, baseball, football and I guess every sport. And when teams fail to rise to the higher levels of play they lose. Thanks for the clarification.

mgadfly
03-27-2015, 07:57 AM
Yeah the Sacre injury was a bummer, happened early on though. Daye played out of his natural position his whole career at GU.

It not only forced Daye to play out of position but it forced Heytvelt and Downs to play up a spot too. We didn't have Sacre for the first couple games and he wasn't an All-Star or anything but his 10 minutes per game allowed Heytvelt to go to the PF spot and play his natural stretch position. It allowed Few to go big with Daye or Downs at the SF or small with Gray/Bouldin or Ira!

I thought we had balance and depth at every position and then we lost three of the four games after the injury as players were forced to adjust to playing new roles. Setting aside the Portland State debacle we lost close games to Arizona, UCONN, and Utah (all of which were good teams that year).

Had Sacre not been injured he could have been the difference in all four of those games but even winning a couple of them might have moved us to a spot where we get a more favorable draw and avoid UNC. (where we are free to disagree on how well we were playing). That's what burns me about that year. He was a small piece to the puzzle, but with him going out we ended up giving his minutes to Ira! an Foster or moving Downs and Daye to the PF spot.

Once and Future Zag
03-27-2015, 08:16 AM
It not only forced Daye to play out of position but it forced Heytvelt and Downs to play up a spot too. We didn't have Sacre for the first couple games and he wasn't an All-Star or anything but his 10 minutes per game allowed Heytvelt to go to the PF spot and play his natural stretch position. It allowed Few to go big with Daye or Downs at the SF or small with Gray/Bouldin or Ira!

I thought we had balance and depth at every position and then we lost three of the four games after the injury as players were forced to adjust to playing new roles. Setting aside the Portland State debacle we lost close games to Arizona, UCONN, and Utah (all of which were good teams that year).

Had Sacre not been injured he could have been the difference in all four of those games but even winning a couple of them might have moved us to a spot where we get a more favorable draw and avoid UNC. (where we are free to disagree on how well we were playing). That's what burns me about that year. He was a small piece to the puzzle, but with him going out we ended up giving his minutes to Ira! an Foster or moving Downs and Daye to the PF spot.

THANK YOU - I swear I had been the only one who saw this (http://guboards.spokesmanreview.com/showthread.php?12984-Who-s-the-most-important-player-for-the-2008-2009-season&p=230758#post230758).


Since the end of last season I've been saying our success level is going to be keyed to Sacre's growth as a player- barring any freak injuries of course.

If Rob Sacre even puts up Sean Mallon level numbers and takes ownership of the paint - that lets Josh roam around a bit more, which has to be terrifying to game plan for. We're a strong Final Four contender in this scenario.

If Sacre doesn't own the paint, then Josh has to spend more time as the 5, and I think we peak out at the Sweet 16.