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FuManShoes
02-17-2007, 07:25 PM
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/16724705.htm

Gonzaga falls to Memphis
By Bud Withers

The Seattle Times

(MCT)

SPOKANE, Wash. - Attempting to capitalize on a backcourt tradition that includes John Stockton, Matt Santangelo, Dan Dickau and Blake Stepp, Gonzaga likes to promote itself as "Guard U."

Saturday, in a roaring blizzard of free, white promotional T-shirts at the Spokane Arena, the Zags got crazy with the concept. With some ridiculously small lineups - that's size, not heart _Gonzaga went down swinging against eighth-ranked Memphis but lost an overtime sizzler, 78-77.

"There are going to be a lot of strange lineups out there the rest of the year," said Derek Raivio, the Gonzaga guard, who led all scorers with 21 points.

He was referring, of course, to the suspension of center Josh Heytvelt, picked up eight days earlier in Cheney on a drug arrest. A prosecutor says he'll decide whether to file charges probably by Tuesday, but in the meantime, the Zags are soldiering on without the 6-foot-11 centerpiece to their scheme.

"We're not expecting him to come back," says Raivio. "I mean, coach says this is all we got, and we've got to make the most of it."

You simply can't give any more than Gonzaga gave. The starting backcourt, Raivio and Jeremy Pargo, went 45 minutes each. It wasn't always heady or purposeful, but it was all earnest.

"This year has shown us an incredible amount of adversity," said a bitterly disappointed Gonzaga coach Mark Few. "I thought we responded better than any group we've ever had.

"That was incredible. That's the best courage, character, effort in light of the circumstances I've ever seen."

What's left for Gonzaga (18-10) is to win the West Coast Conference tournament in two weeks, or start taking calls from the NIT. Winning this one would have been persuasive to the NCAA basketball committee, which, in the wake of the Heytvelt suspension, must judge the Zags on what they are, not on what they were when they beat North Carolina in November.

They very nearly scissored Memphis' winning streak, now at 15. With 17 seconds left in overtime, Nigerian center Abdullahi Kuso dropped down two free throws to give Gonzaga a 77-76 lead.

This, after Gonzaga had clambered back from a 13-point second-half deficit, essentially going without a post player.

But Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts, its leading scorer, skipped into the lane_appearing to get away with a travel_and had a shot swatted away by Kuso. But Memphis retained possession with nine seconds to go, and this time Douglas-Roberts swept left through the key, drew a foul on Kuso at about six feet and knocked in a bank shot for the winner.

Douglas-Roberts missed the free throw, Gonzaga outletted and Pargo's 25-footer at the buzzer went begging off the back iron.

And so, Gonzaga's strange, undulating season_beat North Carolina; trail Virginia at halftime 60-26; three East Coast trips; Heytvelt_rolls on. This effort was conceived without major minutes from starter Sean Mallon (sprained ankle early in the second half) and with a lineup of Raivio, Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Micah Downs and David Pendergraft.

That's four perimeter players and a 6-6 gamer from Brewster. At that point, Pargo, at 6-2, was guarding the 6-6 Douglas-Roberts. Pendergraft was trading chest bumps with 6-9 Baltimore banger Joey Dorsey, and the skinny Downs was up against 6-9 Robert Dozier.

At the other end, 18 of Gonzaga's first 22 baskets came from perimeter personnel.

At that, Gonzaga could have won the thing at the end of regulation. Draining the clock with the game tied at 69, the Zags plotted to have Raivio take a last shot. But Dorsey came out and doubled Pargo, who gave up possession a tick before time expired.

Few chafed over that one, saying, "If you're going to have the ball in your hands like that, you've got to get a shot up on the rim, or kick it so somebody can, to get a little foul pressure. We can't do what we did there."

And so, John Calipari, coach of a 23-3 Tigers team that hasn't had much of an argument this season in Conference USA, walked off and said, "We needed that."

Need, he doesn't know.

Not far away, Few was asked how much his guys could possibly handle. He looked vacantly ahead for a second.

"Hopefully more," he said.

---

2007, The Seattle Times.

JLGutrocks
02-17-2007, 08:11 PM
I still think this team has a few surprises in store for us.

TM27
02-17-2007, 08:41 PM
No excuses, no maybes, no anything, WIN or your out. After tonights loss it is a definite, win the conference tourney or no madness for GU. Although I wouldnt choose it, I really, really like this situation....I will take a desperate GU against any team in the WCC.

It all starts Monday!

jayray
02-17-2007, 11:55 PM
Sounds like the players have closure for the year w/ the Josh deal. Us fans can speculate all we want but if it is as it appears Few has made it clear to the team to move on. Smart move by Few in my book - put it behind them. Now if Few could just up his game time coaching and coach a close win. He is getting outcoached in these big time games.

TheZagPhish
02-18-2007, 12:29 AM
Sounds like the players have closure for the year w/ the Josh deal.

That was apparent. At this stage it is hard to imagine Few bringing Josh back in, at least this season, for its deleterious impact on the team's new and tenuous essence. We've seen some reestablishment and a new tone is present and effective.