View Full Version : One last look at the 2015 Season

04-11-2015, 07:09 AM
I watched the game against Duke again last night, (I usually a game again the day after the game) and I was kind of surprised by how great the game was. In many ways, I believe that this was Duke's toughest game. The Zags played really well, and you could say great, until the 4:00 minute mark of the game. That was when Wiltjer missed a free throw, when we were down by one, followed by that missed layup. It turned out to be a five point swing, and Gonzaga never recovered. And not surprisingly, Duke shot free throws the rest of the way. You see, when a team reaches the 4 minute mark, it's so important to be ahead so you can be the team that shoots free-throws down the stretch. Had Wiljer made those 4 minutes Gonzaga would have had that lead.

I was just so proud of our guys how they kept fighting back. The first time was in the first half after they had gotten behind by 11 points. And at some point late in the first half, I believe our Zags actually took the lead, I also think that the announcer said that it was the first time in the tournament that Duke had been behind. Eventully, Duke took a five point lead into half-time. However, the Zags came out on fire, attacking Duke from the inside. Karnowski was terrific, and after 4 minutes Gonzaga took the lead. Coach K called a time-out, and Duke soon recovered the lead. They built that lead up to 11 points again, and then GU made their comeback and final drive. It was just awesome to see their confidence and toughness. They team really did play their best game of the year, imo. Sabonis was also just awesome in that second half comeback. Had Wiltjer made those points, or had Pangos made the two open shots he could have made (one a floater in the lane and a second in the left corner where he missed a pretty wide open 3 point shot, the Zags could have won that game. We all saw throughout the tournament, and especially in their last few games, just how tough and awesome Duke's defense was. It was by far the toughest D Gonzaga had played against all year. And I thought they handled it pretty well really. Pangos really did do a pretty darn good job. And I could clearly see, that once again, our Bigs dominated in the paint. Duke, like Iowa and UCLA, could not handle our post players.

What I really noticed about the game was how good Gonzaga's defense was. They gave Duke fits after the opening few minutes of the game. Gary Bell, one more time, was a total stud. He shut down Cook completely in the first half, but Tyus Jones was hurting us. So Few switched Gary onto Jones, and Gary totally shut him down. No one, in the whole tournament shut Tyus Jones down accept Mr Bell. It was so neat to watch him last night when I was able to watch the game in a relaxed state of mind. The Zags also pretty much shut down Okafer. It was just awesome. In the final analysis, it was a role player, another Jones boy, who did the Zags in. He hit four 3's. In the two games that followed in the Final Four, I don't remember seeing him hit even one.

This was a GREAT team. And the game was so much closer then the final score would suggest. Gonzaga played Duke pretty even for most of the game. It was a beautiful game to watch because it was a fast paced, up and down the court game. I really enjoyed it. And after watching it again, I was glad that we played Duke. Duke is the symbol of excellence in basketball imo, and it was easy to see how close this GU team came to reaching the final 4. Maybe we would have made it if we had been in the mid-west region. But it just wasn't meant to be this year. The game almost makes me feel that Mark Few is right when he calls the tournament a crap shoot, and that a part of it is just the way the ball bounces. I must say that Wiltjer's missed shot was certainly one freaky play.

A lot this year has been said and written about the refs. There were two very big, and important down the stretch that definitely favored Duke. One was a tipped ball that went out of bounds that the replay clearly showed that the ball went off of Winslow. And yet the officials gave the ball to Duke. That was a huge call. The other was on a play where Bell was running up the court (or dribbling) and after he passes the ball Winslow clearly gives him a shoulder and knocks him 3 feet out of bounds. Winslow clearly helps Bell keep from falling down, and what looks like an apology from Winslow as they continue to run up the court. Had the Zags been awarded the two free throws, and had Bell made them, it would have brought a 3 point deficit bake to one after Wiltjer's missed shot. I suppose that a part of the crap shoot theory is how the referee's call the game..

One more time I want to say, Thank You Zags for the memories of a great year, and especially for the memories of the NCAA Tournament. And thanks for leading us back to the Elite 8. Just as we did in '99, we came so close, and lost in a close, hard fought battle to the eventual champions.

04-11-2015, 08:16 AM
Thanks for the recap, Reborn. I haven't had the heart to watch it again (yet) but in my mind it seemed like it was a somewhat sloppy performance from the Zags - not one of their better games. But perhaps after watching it again I will see that they did perform well on the big stage, and I'm sure some of the sloppiness had to do with the defense of Duke.

One thing that did pop into my mind as I was watching it live - I think it was midway through the 2nd half and they had those low sideline cameras that moved with the point guards bringing the ball up, and Kevin was bringing the ball up with the score tied and the crowd in the background and a Duke defender shadowing him and it just hit me - this is the BIG TIME. It was just a great feeling to see the Zags on that stage in the Elite 8, against a national powerhouse (and to be tied at that point!). Something that we could definitely get used to...

04-12-2015, 09:42 AM
As in most games from the Sweetw 16 on, the games were tough defensive battles, and this year Gonzaga's defense was really great. I watched Gonzaga play Iowa again yesterday. I was so happy that the Zags played that well in Seattle. It was really our best game of the year I think. The shooting was incredible. I think the Zags won over a lot of people living in the Seattle area. I know they appreciated the game. The defense was stellar in that game as well. Iowa was a very hot team coming into that game, and some felt that the Zags just might be sent home one more time in the round of 32. But not this time. The Zags pounded Iowa. And thus showed that they were ready for a deep run. I just hope that the Zags continue to put the focus on defense that they did this year, because it is a fact that if you want to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament you must play top 20 type of defense.

04-12-2015, 10:00 AM
Duke stepped it up down the stretch and GU fell apart. Pangos passed the ball directly to a Duke player, Wiltjer missed an easy lay up, etc. On the other hand, Duke shot the ball better, defended better at crunch time. With four minutes to go in an evenly contested game, GU made both unforced and forced mistakes, and with respect to outside shooting, the wheels fell off the cart. Meanwhile, GU simply stopped working the ball inside, some of it due to Duke adjustments, daring GU to take those perimeter shots.

In the early game, it looked like Duke was going to easily blow them out. The most impressive part of the game was GU coming back from an eleven point deficit in the first half to eventually take the lead. That is when they were playing their best ball. They were outplaying Duke for a decent stretch of time in the first half and then played them even for another stretch in the second half. Then Duke took over the game.

04-12-2015, 10:50 AM
It is almost incomprehensible to me that with all the sloppy play we had throughout the game, combined with how well Duke shot, we were a missed lay-up from a tie with 4 left. I think that was nothing but guts to get us to that place. I think the missed lay-up hit us hard mentally, almost like it said "not meant to be" - that might be a little strong.

I also think that had that game been played in an arena, we go down to the last possession. No team shot well from the outside in that godforsaken place. But, we rely on our shooters more than a team like Duke that has far more slashers. I can't see how a team that shot the ball so well against Iowa could walk in and go that cold in Houston.

That being said, we had a great shot at the final four with 4 left against the eventual national champ. I guess the road to the national championship goes through Gonzaga, and yes, they do get "through."

It was a spectacular season. We played just outrageously good at times, and we gutted out wins when we played awful. (SMC). The loss to BYU was regrettable but a combo of disinterest and a feeling of invincibility at home did it - it ended up helping. As has been the pattern, they took they team to a new step up. Our recruiting is now at an all-time high level and we may get knocked back a little in off years (every team does), but we're no longer the great "WCC" team. We're a power now, and a lot of that is b/c of Gary/Kevin, who now leave with possibly two even better guards coming down the pike.

04-12-2015, 01:22 PM
I can't watch it again fellas. I think you hit on some valid points. One of the things that hurt us, was as Dixie said the "not meant to be" mentality. I continue to believe that crucial stops and clutch shots are the sine qua non of tournament success. What I recall were several defensive breakdowns following that fateful moment of the missed lay up, including silly (and yes some Phantom) fouls, and failure to execute on the offensive end. It was almost as if it sent the Zags into a panic. I think that what you fellas say, about it being valiant, and almost, and woulda, coulda, shoulda, etc., is cathartic. Remember that although Troy fell it resulted in Aeneas' great discovery and founding of Rome. The Zags still have possibilities and opportunities, and all Duke will have is a crumbling empire. It all depends on if the Zags emphasize defensive tenacity and execution for 40 minutes in March when it matters. Then repeat, PRN. I agree about the Iowa game, even though the UW dweeb and his son sitting in front of me sat on their hands the entire game, they eventually stood and applauded the Zags in the end. Boy have those Husky fans got a bad case of Zag envy. Thanks guys for the rehash. I feel better now. I think its really time for baseball.

04-12-2015, 08:43 PM
Re-watched the game several times now. It really came down to them nailing the threes in those final minutes and us not. KP missed one, GB missed one and KW did as well all in that time frame. They nailed theirs and we didn't. Yes, the missed bunny was a bad omen but had the shots dropped we would have been in the hunt. Great game by our Zags really.