View Full Version : Zags vs. Blue Devils Elite 8 Pre-Game Media Thread

03-28-2015, 10:20 AM

Usual "Why Gonzaga Will Win" and "Why Duke Will Win" format; said about the Zags:

Balance and versatility is the name of the game for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs can beat teams from the perimeter with the shooting of guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, and forward Kyle Wiltjer. The Bulldogs can work inside through forward Domantas Sabonis and center Przemek Karnowski.

The whole team has great vision and can find the open man, and the bunch sees brings plenty of production to the floor. No, the ‘Zags aren’t going to blow away anyone with their quickness or athleticism, but few teams play such solid team basketball.

03-28-2015, 03:07 PM
Transcripts of the Pre-Game Press Conferences are up. Lots of respect shown to the opposition by both teams. I enjoyed reading both of them.

DUKE: LINK (http://asaptext.com/marchmadness/media/4_SouthRegional/browse.php?browse_file_name=./transcripts/duke_blue_devils_2015_03_28_16_11.html)

GONZAGA: LINK (http://asaptext.com/marchmadness/media/4_SouthRegional/browse.php?browse_file_name=./transcripts/gonzaga_bulldogs_2015_03_28_16_44.html)

03-28-2015, 08:05 PM
John Blanchette says Santangelo is high on the Zags:


When Matt Santangelo spotted Gary Bell Jr. in the lobby, he knew that.

He knew the glow of beating UCLA in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament was still warm, but fading. He knew the ache and the high, and not just the gratification of shared accomplishment, but of this shared accomplishment – and the danger of hanging on to it too long.

“There was a great sense of pride,” said Santangelo, “because maybe more so than anyone else, I knew what he was feeling.”

Great Quote from Matt Santangelo:

“For them to bust through the ceiling – and I don’t think they’re done – it validates our history. It continues to give credibility to the program that all former Bulldogs remain a part of."
Read the rest of the story at the Link

03-28-2015, 08:11 PM
SOUTH: Duke vs. Gonzaga (Sunday, 5:05 p.m.): It’s seniors vs. freshman, McDonald’s All-Americans vs. international All-Stars.

Duke and Gonzaga could not be built more differently, which makes their No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup so intriguing. The Blue Devils are more talented, but their best players – Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones — are all freshmen.

Gonzaga’s most important players — Kyle Wiltjer, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell — are all seniors, though Wiltjier is a redshirt junior.

Gonzaga’s unique.

Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski are unique big men. It’s hard to imagine Okafor dominating them. But Winslow, who notched 21 points and 10 boards against Utah, has been tremendous all tourney. The spacing he creates along with Jones’ dribble-drive abilities make Duke tough to defend. But then, the Blue Devils themselves may struggle to defend Gonzaga’s perimeter shooters.

From a link provided by MDABE


03-28-2015, 08:15 PM
Seattle Times / Bud Withers: Compliments flowing freely as Duke and Gonzaga get ready to square off (http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/ncaa-tournament/compliments-flowing-freely-as-duke-and-gonzaga-get-ready-to-square-off/)


So Sunday’s game to get to the Final Four might be about this: How big is the shadow cast by Krzyzew#ski, and by association, are the Zags daunted by Duke the program, not Duke the team?

“They are a household name,” conceded Bell. “But they put their jersey on just like I put mine on. They tie their shoes just like I do.”

03-28-2015, 08:42 PM
Houston Chronicle / Brian T. Smith: Under Few's guidance, Gonzaga excels against the big boys (http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/college-basketball-men/article/Under-Few-s-guidance-Gonzaga-excels-against-the-6165834.php)

Few is tiny compared to his players and speaks softly when postgame questions begin rolling in. After Gonzaga gutted out a brick-filled 74-62 Sweet 16 victory over UCLA on Friday - the mini-Cinderella Bruins earned all the pre-tip buzz - Few's voice broke as he mentioned two words Bulldogs fans often have heard but never seen in person: Final Four.

"This is huge," Few said. "And not for me - it ain't about me - it's about them. … They've got a chance to do something that's never been done."

The team-first, me-last coach easily blends in. But Few stands out when he wants to. After big wins, the soft speaker turns his frame upside down inside Gonzaga's locker room, surrounds himself with screaming Bulldogs and pulls off a handstand that would make a cheerleader beam.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski applauded his rival's circus trick.

"Can't say enough about him," Krzyzewski said. "He's really a great role model for coaches who are trying to develop and does not take himself too seriously. He wants his players to have the spotlight, which I admire in him."

03-28-2015, 08:42 PM
Thanks, Zagphish! That Withers piece was a fun read.

Section 116
03-28-2015, 08:50 PM
Meehan's G-Duke preview: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/mar/28/zags-hope-have-final-answer-duke/

03-28-2015, 09:24 PM
John Blanchette says Santangelo is high on the Zags:



Great Quote from Matt Santangelo:

Read the rest of the story at the Link

Probably has something to do with the fact that Matt is of my era as a Zag (same graduating class), but I loved this article.

03-28-2015, 09:25 PM
Meehan's G-Duke preview: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/mar/28/zags-hope-have-final-answer-duke/

Something Shem said in that article, that playing Okafor will be kind of like SMC and Waldow, rang a little true. To be sure, Jah is on another level, but cut from the same mold - interesting. Waldow is crafty, Ok is more athletic (definitely), but it's not totally unfamiliar.

Should be interesting.

03-28-2015, 10:45 PM
TSN: "Gonzaga 'selfishly' hoping to make history with final 4 berth"


03-28-2015, 10:47 PM
Slew of articles coming off the press for your morning perusal:

AP: Gonzaga’s 1st regional final in 16 years vs top-seeded Duke (http://www.santafenewmexican.com/sports/gonzaga-s-st-regional-final-in-years-vs-top-seeded/article_c2904ec6-9fd9-528b-83d9-bbc24037e022.html)

When they step on the court at the NRG Stadium, the tough-shooting venue that is usually the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans, it will be only the third-ever meeting between the schools. Duke won regular-season games in December 2006 and December 2009, both played at Madison Square Garden.

"Growing up ... I can remember Adam Morrison being a big-time player, him always being compared to J.J. Redick, I remember that year, they had a heartbreaking loss to UCLA," said Quinn Cook, the Duke senior guard surrounded in the starting lineup by three standout freshmen. "This team this year, they’re outstanding, experienced, they have a lot to prove. They’re very confident, they feel they’re a championship-level team. ... We’ll have our hands full."

Times-News: NCAA Notes: Duke's Okafor faces rare taller task (http://www.thetimesnews.com/sports/acc-sports/ncaa-notes-duke-s-okafor-faces-rare-taller-task-1.457553)

HOUSTON — While his polished post skills figure to remain unmatched, Jahlil Okafor actually won’t measure up as the most immense of the big men in the tale of the tape for today’s South Regional final.

The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Duke freshman checks in smaller than Gonzaga junior Przemek Karnowksi, who stands 7-1, weighs 288 and has been described as “a mountain masquerading as a man” by ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg.

“He’s a really big guy and I’ve got to be ready for a physical battle,” Okafor said Saturday at NRG Stadium. “Should be a lot of fun.”

Washington Post: Duke, Gonzaga to meet Sunday in South Region final (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/03/28/duke-gonzaga-to-meet-sunday-in-south-region-final/)

Washington Post: Duke’s tweaks instrumental for Final Four push (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/03/28/dukes-tweaks-instrumental-for-final-four-push/)

There aren’t two teams more similar in this NCAA tournament than Duke and Gonzaga.

According to Ken Pomeroy, Duke has the nation’s third most efficient offense — 1.21 points per possession — followed by Gonzaga at 1.20. Their defenses are also aligned: .94 OPPP for Duke and .96 for the Bulldogs. It is only fitting that these two should meet in the Elite Eight.

Washington Post: Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski, brimming with swagger, could cause problems for Duke (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/03/28/gonzagas-przemek-karnowski-brimming-with-swagger-could-cause-problems-for-duke/)

HOUSTON – When Przemek Karnowski arrived on Gonzaga’s campus in 2012, he was, in his words, “swag-less.” He often wore jean shorts. He had little awareness of his new surroundings in Spokane, Wash., half a world away from his home in Poland. He also had little idea of what to expect on the court as Gonzaga’s newest international recruit, a raw 7-footer who would soon learn how physical the American game could be.

But Karnowski has what many players don’t: a 288-pound frame and a certain fearlessness. Both traits were central to his decision to come overseas to play college basketball and expand his game at Gonzaga, and both were pillars in his performance in Bulldogs’ win over UCLA in the South Region semifinals Friday night. The junior dominated the paint and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, but he also did it with a newfound swagger, using artistic hook shots and no-look passes to captivate the crowd at NRG Stadium.

“No regrets,” Karnowski said, “but there was for sure some risk.”

CBSSports Video: March Madness 360: 2 Gonzaga vs 1 Duke Preview (http://www.cbssports.com/video/player/collegebasketball/419649603564/0/march-madness-360-2-gonzaga-vs-1-duke-preview)

Seth Davis and crew discuss how Duke is apparently going to manhandle the Zags. Guess we don't have a chance.

ESPN Blog: NCAA tournament Elite Eight preview: Duke vs. Gonzaga (http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/106282/ncaa-tournament-elite-eight-preview-duke-vs-gonzaga)

HOUSTON -- Gonzaga Bulldogs coach Mark Few received all the affirmation he needed from his team before New Year's Day.

He saw it in the way the Bulldogs fought the Texas Longhorns, with the talented roster that made them a preseason Final Four contender, during a secret scrimmage in October. He saw it again in the locker room when the Bulldogs knew they let one get away in a three-point overtime loss at the Arizona Wildcats.

So as Gonzaga, on the verge of making program history if it advances to the Final Four, faces college basketball royalty in the Elite Eight on Sunday, Few knows his team can handle the magnitude of both the game and the college basketball brand that is the Duke Blue Devils.


Okafor said playing through the ACC schedule has pretty much prepared him for everything he’s faced in the NCAA tournament.

Bleacher Report (Actually a pretty good article): Gonzaga Gets Ultimate Opportunity to Exorcise Tourney Demons vs. Duke (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2412454-gonzaga-gets-ultimate-opportunity-to-exorcise-tourney-demons-vs-duke)

One stat conveniently omitted from that chart: two-point field-goal defense. Gonzaga ranks eighth in the nation in that category at 42.2 percent, while Duke allows 46.3 percent (113th).

The hullabaloo heading into the game in Houston will be over how Gonzaga plans to slow down Jahlil Okafor, but shouldn't we instead worry about Duke's ability to stifle Przemek Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer?

ESPN's C.L. Brown dubbed Karnowski the player to watch in his preview of this game, saying, "Karnowski has the kind of wide-body frame and bulk that has made Okafor labor this season."

Houston Chronicle: Add Kevin Pangos to long list of savvy Gonzaga guards (http://www.chron.com/sports/college/article/Add-Kevin-Pangos-to-long-list-of-savvy-Gonzaga-6165595.php)

Houston Chronicle: NCAA South Region report: Gonzaga has history on its side in matchup with Duke (http://www.chron.com/sports/college/article/NCAA-South-Region-report-Gonzaga-has-history-on-6165701.php)

No. 2 seed Gonzaga has some recent history on its side entering Sunday's South Regional final against top-seeded Duke.

Since 2006, the No. 2 seed has won five of the last seven meetings against the No. 1 seed in the regional final. In the past 25 years, the No. 2 seed is 17-15 against the No. 1 seed in games that decide a spot in the Final Four.

Charlotte Observer: Three Keys to Watch for in Duke-Gonzaga (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/college/mens-basketball/article16711253.html)

Sporting News: Gonzaga 'selfishly' hoping to make history with Final Four berth (http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-basketball/story/2015-03-28/2015-ncaa-tournament-elite-eight-gonzaga-mark-few-zags-pangos-bell-wesley-wiltjer)

Back home in Spokane, the basketball-crazed town in eastern Washington, there’s been no doubt what the fans want.

“The people in Spokane are such big fans, and they’re a lot of fun to be around,” senior Byron Wesley, a transfer from Southern Cal who joined the team this season, told SN. “I’ve never really been in a place that supports a college basketball team so much. They’ve been pumping the Final Four all year, and hopefully we can get there for them.”

“Everybody else on campus has been talking about it from the first game,” Bell said with a laugh. “It’s ‘You guys have gotta get to the Final Four.’ We’re one game away, and hopefully we can do it.”

They will have their opportunity soon enough.

03-29-2015, 12:35 AM
Thanks, caduceus ... and everybody else for the links. After a long day of work, it made catching up on the hype and hoop(s)la so much easier. Much appreciated.

03-29-2015, 02:32 AM
Jim Meehan - Spokesman-Review: Zag families know about being in zone (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/mar/29/zag-families-know-about-being-in-zone/)

Great article.

“The one in Seattle (last Sunday) wasn’t that bad. It was midnight there. A lot of times it’s maybe 2 or 3 in the morning,” Sabonis said. “My dad watches the games, my mom falls asleep.”

Przemek Karnowski can relate. The junior center says there are two time zones inside the family home in Torun, Poland: local time and Przemek’s-game-is-starting time. Gonzaga’s 74-62 win over UCLA on Friday night ended just before 2:30 a.m. in Poland.

Jacob Thorpe - Spokesman-Review: Winslow a handful for Blue Devils’ opponents (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/mar/29/winslow-a-handful-for-blue-devils-opponents/)

One such instance came in Friday’s win over Utah, when Winslow hit the second of his back-to-back 3-pointers and faced the crowd to celebrate, replicating James Harden’s “stir the ###” hand gesture. The Utes quickly passed the ball over Winslow’s head for an easy bucket.

Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, not one to be wary about his own post-shot celebrations, says that such antics can energize an opponent as well as one’s own team.

“It gets you going as well, because you don’t want another team celebrating in your face or anything like that,” Wiltjer said. “And you want to win so badly that you kind of take it personally.”

USA Today: Field goals not automatic for Duke, Gonzaga at NRG Stadium (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/finalfour/2015/03/29/nrg-stadium-houston-shooting-woes-duke-gonzaga-ncaa-tournament-elite-8/70621210/)

Neither Duke nor Gonzaga expected poor shooting Friday night because coaches from both teams said they shot particularly well in practices and shootarounds leading up to the games.

"We shot the crap out of it," Lloyd said.

The Herald-Sun: NEXT UP, ZAGS: Gonzaga poses tough test for Duke’s ‘D’ (http://www.heraldsun.com/sports/x268554379/NEXT-UP-ZAGS-Gonzaga-poses-tough-test-for-Duke-s-D)

Duke freshman Justise Winslow, who stands only 6-6 but utilizes his 250-pound, muscular frame inside, figures to get the primary assignment on Wiltjer.

“He really has deep range,” Winslow said. “That’s going to be a really big challenge for us, but, you know. luckily I’m going to have four other guys with me and be a collective issue to put him off the 3-point line. He can also post up. He’s great in the post. He’s going to be a tough match for us tomorrow, but I think we’ll be ready, but he’s an outstanding player.”

03-29-2015, 04:27 AM
Thanks, Car! I'm too nervous to sleep so it's nice to have something to read! ��

03-29-2015, 05:53 AM
Just watched the ESPN Sports Reporters, a notorious EC biased junket but there was surprising love for Gon-Zaw-Guh.

Bob Ryan said he really wished Gonzaga/Duke was the best of 7 seven series and he couldn't help but feel disappointed in the result of the game because everybody would be denied seeing this matchup more than once. He also said the Zags are one of the most complete college basketball team in America, have the best 6th man in Sabonis, and have the talents to curb anything offered by Duke. Lupica agreed Zags are one of the most complete college basketball teams and believes they can get it done today. Albom likes the Zags as well but didn't make a prediction on the game. Lupica also said this side of the bracket (South/East) were fortunate to not have to play UK or Wisky to get to FF which I completely agree. They also were still remarking how cool it is Wiltjer is a UK transfer. Saunders kept bringing up the Canadian connection to the team which was met with laughter by the rest of the panel.

03-29-2015, 08:22 AM
When the Zags won the pre-season NIT we had our first glance of how well they would do on the big stage. I was curious as to whether or not success in that event was a precursor to success the following Spring in the Big Dance. This is what I found:

http://i1178.photobucket.com/albums/x375/RenoZag/PreSeason%20NIT%20vs%20NCAA_zpsykee3e1j.jpg (http://s1178.photobucket.com/user/RenoZag/media/PreSeason%20NIT%20vs%20NCAA_zpsykee3e1j.jpg.html)

Since 1985, the Pre-Season NIT Winner has gone on to the National Championship twice (Duke) and advanced to the Final Four five times.

Beat the Blue Devils !

03-29-2015, 09:14 AM
Q. Coach, Duke has played these last couple months playing Justise at the 4. With your imposing front line, do you see that as an advantage for you going against that type of play?
COACH FEW: We have to see that as an advantage and make it as much as of an advantage as we can. We faced a lot of teams that went small against us this year and had varying degrees of success, depending on how you look at it. I think that will be a big key to the game tomorrow is who is gaining the advantage, you know, but, at the same time, you know, you don't want to go too far from what got you here. And, you know, our power and our physicality on the inside is a huge part of who we are, even though I think Kevin and Wilch get a lot of credit for how well they shoot it, but in the end what makes us a national caliber squad is just how big we are and how physical we are. And we got to do our best to accentuate that tomorrow.

Key to the game here, imho....the matchup at the 4: Wiltjer vs Winslow.

03-29-2015, 09:58 AM
Game Notes from GOZAGS.com

LINK (http://www.gozags.com/fls/26400/MEN'S%20BASKETBALL/14-15notes/20150329%20postseasonnotes8.pdf?&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&SPSID=627537&SPID=90846&DB_OEM_ID=26400)

Through Gonzaga’s Sweet 16 win over UCLA:

• As a team, Gonzaga is shooting .503 (89-177) from the fi eld, and .351 (20-57) from three
• GU is averaging 17.0 assists per game, 0.5 higher than season average
• GU is outrebounding opponents 39.7 to 28.3, a +11.4 edge
• GU has scored more points (247) than any team in the NCAA Tournament
• Sabonis is averaging a nearly double-double with 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds
• Wiltjer is averaging 18.5 points per game (23 vs. NDSU, 24 vs. Iowa, 8 vs. UCLA)
• Wiltjer is 22-36 (. 611) from the fi eld and 6-for-12 (.500) from three
• Karnowski is averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks

Through Gonzaga’s Sweet 16 win over UCLA:
• Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. moved into a tie for second in career NCAA games played
behind school record holders Casey Calvary and Mark Spink, who each played in 10.
• Kevin Pangos moved into fi rst all-time in GU’s NCAA history with 27 3FGM and 70 3FGA.
• Pangos moved to second at GU in career points in NCAAs with 140, passing Casey Calvary
with his 10-point eff ort against UCLA. He is only nine behind Adam Morrison’s 149.
• Pangos moved into sixth at GU in career free throws made in NCAAs with 26.
• Pangos moved into third in career fi eld goals made in NCAAs with 37 and second in fi eld
goals attempted at 104.
• Pangos moved into fourth in career assists in NCAAs with 30.
• Pangos extended his GU career lead in steals in NCAAs to 15.
• Przemek Karnowski is third at GU in career fi eld goal percentage in NCAAs at .659 (29-44).
• Karnowski moved into a tie for second at GU in career blocks in NCAAs with 9.

03-29-2015, 10:02 AM
Duke Game Notes (posted at GOZAGS.com)

LINK (https://www.nmnathletics.com//pdf9/3356406.pdf?&ATCLID=209989102&SPSID=22724&SPID=1845&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=4200)

03-29-2015, 10:08 AM
Chaz and Clark pick Zags. jet goes w Dook.