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Rangerzag
12-02-2007, 04:23 PM
http://blogs.krem.com/gonzaga/2007/12/third_time_a_charm_for_bulldog.html

Third Time a Charm for Bulldogs

December 2, 2007

http://www.krem.com/images/thumbnails/bmichaelson.jpg (http://blogs.krem.com/)Brian Michaelson (http://blogs.krem.com/)
http://www.king5.com/images/blog/graypixel.gif
Former Zag After losing the first two closely contested games against Connecticut, the Zags were able to come out on the right side of the third game between the two schools that continued the tradition of the series by coming down to the last play. Gonzaga’s 85-82 win over the Huskies in Boston gave them an impressive sweep of a difficult East Coast road swing and gave the team a taste of a NCAA Tournament game atmosphere.
There were plenty of great individual performances to help the Zags knock off a big and athletic Connecticut squad, but it was the total team effort, including the coaching staffs great game plan, which enabled the Bulldogs to pull out the victory despite the mental and physical fatigue the team had to be feeling after being on the road over the last two weeks. Unlike Thursday’s game at St. Joe’s, Gonzaga started slowly and found themselves in a huge whole less than five minutes in, but this time the Zags picked up their level of play as the game went on and played very well over the final 35 minutes on both ends of the floor. The coaching staff put together a great scheme to help neutralize the Huskies great size inside and athletic guards outside, which was the key to the Zags win even though it is what allowed the Huskies to jump out to the early lead. Gonzaga predominately played a 2-3 zone, forcing the Huskies to abandon their powerful inside game and shoot perimeter shots, which they entered Saturday shooting below 30% on. However early in the game UCONN could not miss from three and it got the Zags in the early deficit, but the team did a fantastic job weathering the storm and sticking to the game plan without panicking, and the defensive set eventually paid off. The Huskies early success from three cost them, as they began to shoot the ball poorly from the perimeter (finishing at only 33% despite their hot start), yet the Huskies refused to attack the zone inside because of the false confidence they built early in the game. In the second half the Zags threw another wrinkle at the Huskies defensively, by changing between man and zone defenses, which confused UCONN and broke up any offensive flow they had. Between the constant changing of defenses, sticking to the game plan of forcing the Huskies to beat them from outside, and being active regardless of which defense set was called the Zags were able to get just enough defensive stops, despite the Huskies uncharacteristic hot start, to pull out the victory. The coaches’ solid plan, and the players’ execution of it, was most evident defensively, but the game plan was just as solid at the offensive end. The staff found numerous ways to the get the ball to Bouldin all over the floor when we was hot in the second half, and also gave Pargo a constant serving of ball screens which allowed him to get into the lane and get open looks from the perimeter for both himself and his teammates. Saturday’s game was a perfect example of Gonzaga’s coaching staffs ability to adjust their game plan to neutralize an opponent’s strengths and maximize the Zags strengths in order to win big games against high quality and athletically superior teams.
While the team effort defensively and coaching staff’s game plan were the keys to the win, there were significant individual contributions Saturday worth mention. Robert Sacre was huge off the bench for the Zags inside, especially with Kuso saddled with foul trouble and having difficulty against the Huskies monstrous frontline, as he was perfect from the floor with 9 points, including three big first half buckets to help Gonzaga dig out of the early hole. With Sacre handling the inside, the rest of the Bulldog’s punch came from the outside, with Bouldin, Pargo and Downs all playing fantastic, and Pendo knocking down three outside shots in the first half. Micah responded incredibly well to coming off the bench for the first time this year, playing very well defensively, being the Zags best rebounding presence by far with 11 boards, and contributing 14 points and no turnovers at the offensive end. Saturday’s game showed exactly what Downs can bring to the Zags, with his amazing all around game and ability to contribute to every facet of the game, even against the biggest and most athletic teams in the country. For as good as Micah and Robert were, the starting backcourt is what led the team to the win. For the third consecutive game Bouldin was dominate offensively, scoring in a variety of ways and causing huge matchup problems for the Huskies. Matt attacked the basket, hit jumpers and got to the free line constantly in the second half, as he scored almost all of his 19 points in the second half. Bouldin’s ability to score from all over the floor, including the post where he is the Zag’s best offensive weapon, is crucial to the Bulldog’s success and makes it very difficult for opponents to game plan for the Zag’s because he can create matchup problems almost every night. For Gonzaga to continue its success Matt must be aggressive and confident as he has been the last three games and score consistently from all over the floor. While Matt dominated the second half, Pargo was very consistent all night long and the Zag’s best player, scoring a game high 23 points, to go along with 5 assists and no turnovers despite playing every minute of the game as the primary ball handler. When Jeremy shoots the ball well from the perimeter and takes care of the ball he is one of the top guards in college basketball, and the Zags will be incredibly difficult to beat when he does so. Pargo’s strength, smarts and confidence make him difficult for opponents to handle, but just as important he provides the Zags with the confidence and swagger they need to win big games. With Robert playing his best game of the year inside, Pendo making the big plays at key moments, and Bouldin, Pargo, and Downs leading from the guard positions the Zags had their best offensive showing of the year Saturday against a very good defensive team, scoring 85 points and committing only 9 turnovers.
As is always the case, the Zags were far from perfect Saturday and the two most glaring weakness in the game were the atrocious free throw shooting and sub par game on the glass. The Huskies are a fabulous rebounding team because of their size, effort and athleticism, however the Zags should have been able, and need, to keep the rebounding margin closer than the minus 8 it was on Saturday. UCONN’s rebounding advantage, especially their 19 offensive rebounds, gave them too many chances to stay in the game, and to win big games come March Gonzaga must create better rebounding areas and be better on the glass regardless of the opponent. While the rebounding was subpar and hurt the Zags, it was their free throw shooting which was the biggest negative of the game, and truly gave the Huskies an opportunity to win. The Zags are usually solid from the line, so hopefully Saturday’s poor performance, 62%, was just an aberration (especially from Pargo who was only 50% on 10 attempts) and they will get back to making around 75 % percent of the their attempts, not allowing opponents to stick around in close ballgames as was the case against Connecticut.
Saturday’s win was the best of the year for the Zags and a nice way to end a long road swing; however the Bulldog’s first game back at home this Wednesday will be the hardest game the team has had to date. Washington State visits Gonzaga Wednesday, with a top 10 national ranking and Northwest bragging rights on the line, and while the Zags will fact more athletic and naturally talented teams this year, they will not face a more disciplined, well coached, consistent and hard nosed team than the Cougars. The Zags will have to be at their very best to the beat Washington State, who will be the best true “team” they play all year, but the Zags have been playing well the last few game and hopefully Wednesday is the day it all comes together and the Zags can get a huge win over a local rival and top 10 opponent.

treehorn
12-02-2007, 07:19 PM
..

Third Time a Charm for Bulldogs

December 2, 2007
Brian Michaelson

Former Zag After losing the first two closely contested games against Connecticut, the Zags were able to come out on the right side of the third game between the two schools that continued the tradition of the series by coming down to the last play. Gonzaga’s 85-82 win over the Huskies in Boston gave them an impressive sweep of a difficult East Coast road swing and gave the team a taste of a NCAA Tournament game atmosphere.

There were plenty of great individual performances to help the Zags knock off a big and athletic Connecticut squad, but it was the total team effort, including the coaching staffs great game plan, which enabled the Bulldogs to pull out the victory despite the mental and physical fatigue the team had to be feeling after being on the road over the last two weeks.

Unlike Thursday’s game at St. Joe’s, Gonzaga started slowly and found themselves in a huge whole less than five minutes in, but this time the Zags picked up their level of play as the game went on and played very well over the final 35 minutes on both ends of the floor. The coaching staff put together a great scheme to help neutralize the Huskies great size inside and athletic guards outside, which was the key to the Zags win even though it is what allowed the Huskies to jump out to the early lead.

Gonzaga predominately played a 2-3 zone, forcing the Huskies to abandon their powerful inside game and shoot perimeter shots, which they entered Saturday shooting below 30% on. However early in the game UCONN could not miss from three and it got the Zags in the early deficit, but the team did a fantastic job weathering the storm and sticking to the game plan without panicking, and the defensive set eventually paid off.

The Huskies early success from three cost them, as they began to shoot the ball poorly from the perimeter (finishing at only 33% despite their hot start), yet the Huskies refused to attack the zone inside because of the false confidence they built early in the game. In the second half the Zags threw another wrinkle at the Huskies defensively, by changing between man and zone defenses, which confused UCONN and broke up any offensive flow they had.

Between the constant changing of defenses, sticking to the game plan of forcing the Huskies to beat them from outside, and being active regardless of which defense set was called the Zags were able to get just enough defensive stops, despite the Huskies uncharacteristic hot start, to pull out the victory. The coaches’ solid plan, and the players’ execution of it, was most evident defensively, but the game plan was just as solid at the offensive end.

The staff found numerous ways to the get the ball to Bouldin all over the floor when we was hot in the second half, and also gave Pargo a constant serving of ball screens which allowed him to get into the lane and get open looks from the perimeter for both himself and his teammates. Saturday’s game was a perfect example of Gonzaga’s coaching staffs ability to adjust their game plan to neutralize an opponent’s strengths and maximize the Zags strengths in order to win big games against high quality and athletically superior teams.

While the team effort defensively and coaching staff’s game plan were the keys to the win, there were significant individual contributions Saturday worth mention. Robert Sacre was huge off the bench for the Zags inside, especially with Kuso saddled with foul trouble and having difficulty against the Huskies monstrous frontline, as he was perfect from the floor with 9 points, including three big first half buckets to help Gonzaga dig out of the early hole.

With Sacre handling the inside, the rest of the Bulldog’s punch came from the outside, with Bouldin, Pargo and Downs all playing fantastic, and Pendo knocking down three outside shots in the first half. Micah responded incredibly well to coming off the bench for the first time this year, playing very well defensively, being the Zags best rebounding presence by far with 11 boards, and contributing 14 points and no turnovers at the offensive end. Saturday’s game showed exactly what Downs can bring to the Zags, with his amazing all around game and ability to contribute to every facet of the game, even against the biggest and most athletic teams in the country.

For as good as Micah and Robert were, the starting backcourt is what led the team to the win. For the third consecutive game Bouldin was dominate offensively, scoring in a variety of ways and causing huge matchup problems for the Huskies. Matt attacked the basket, hit jumpers and got to the free line constantly in the second half, as he scored almost all of his 19 points in the second half. Bouldin’s ability to score from all over the floor, including the post where he is the Zag’s best offensive weapon, is crucial to the Bulldog’s success and makes it very difficult for opponents to game plan for the Zag’s because he can create matchup problems almost every night. For Gonzaga to continue its success Matt must be aggressive and confident as he has been the last three games and score consistently from all over the floor.

While Matt dominated the second half, Pargo was very consistent all night long and the Zag’s best player, scoring a game high 23 points, to go along with 5 assists and no turnovers despite playing every minute of the game as the primary ball handler. When Jeremy shoots the ball well from the perimeter and takes care of the ball he is one of the top guards in college basketball, and the Zags will be incredibly difficult to beat when he does so.

Pargo’s strength, smarts and confidence make him difficult for opponents to handle, but just as important he provides the Zags with the confidence and swagger they need to win big games. With Robert playing his best game of the year inside, Pendo making the big plays at key moments, and Bouldin, Pargo, and Downs leading from the guard positions the Zags had their best offensive showing of the year Saturday against a very good defensive team, scoring 85 points and committing only 9 turnovers.

As is always the case, the Zags were far from perfect Saturday and the two most glaring weakness in the game were the atrocious free throw shooting and sub par game on the glass. The Huskies are a fabulous rebounding team because of their size, effort and athleticism, however the Zags should have been able, and need, to keep the rebounding margin closer than the minus 8 it was on Saturday. UCONN’s rebounding advantage, especially their 19 offensive rebounds, gave them too many chances to stay in the game, and to win big games come March. Gonzaga must create better rebounding areas and be better on the glass regardless of the opponent.

While the rebounding was subpar and hurt the Zags, it was their free throw shooting which was the biggest negative of the game, and truly gave the Huskies an opportunity to win. The Zags are usually solid from the line, so hopefully Saturday’s poor performance, 62%, was just an aberration (especially from Pargo who was only 50% on 10 attempts) and they will get back to making around 75 % percent of the their attempts, not allowing opponents to stick around in close ballgames as was the case against Connecticut.

Saturday’s win was the best of the year for the Zags and a nice way to end a long road swing; however the Bulldog’s first game back at home this Wednesday will be the hardest game the team has had to date. Washington State visits Gonzaga Wednesday, with a top 10 national ranking and Northwest bragging rights on the line, and while the Zags will fact more athletic and naturally talented teams this year, they will not face a more disciplined, well coached, consistent and hard nosed team than the Cougars. The Zags will have to be at their very best to the beat Washington State, who will be the best true “team” they play all year, but the Zags have been playing well the last few game and hopefully Wednesday is the day it all comes together and the Zags can get a huge win over a local rival and top 10 opponent.
.

MedZag
12-02-2007, 07:44 PM
Love that Michaelson is blogging again. Good writing too - 8 years of jesuit education will do that for ya!

GonzagaGurl08
12-02-2007, 07:54 PM
Brian's a great guy. Does anyone know what he is up to these days??

ZagsGoZags
12-02-2007, 08:42 PM
Thanks Brian, that is the first time I remember seeing one of your posts. With a little bit of spelling here, and something there, you could just submit that for a major news service.