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ZagNative
02-03-2008, 11:51 AM
As always, lots of helpful insights in Brian Michaelson's Blog (http://blogs.krem.com/gonzaga/2008/02/freshmen_step_up_to_deliver_wi.html):

Freshmen Step Up To Deliver Win
February 3, 2008

On a night in which the Gonzaga Bulldogs could do very little right, freshmen Austin Daye and Steven Gray were huge down the stretch and led the Zags to a crucial 87-82 double overtime win over Santa Clara. With Saturday’s narrow win the Zags remain undefeated and in first place in the WCC through six games, exactly where they wanted to be heading into Monday’s huge first place showdown at St. Mary’s.

As a whole Gonzaga played well below their capabilities Saturday in nearly every aspect of the game, and until regulation’s final second it appeared as though the Bulldogs were on their way to being upset by the Broncos. The Zags failed to take care of the ball (20 turnovers), did not rebound well (minus 8 on the glass), allowed the Broncos to shoot way too well from the floor (52% overall and 39% on threes including 10 made three pointers), and for stretches of the game played with very little physical energy or attention to detail. In most games, especially on the road, these statistics would almost certainly add up to a loss for Gonzaga; however, the team stuck together and kept battling even when it seemed the game was going to get away from them and was able to overcome their subpar effort to pick up the road victory.

For as poorly as the Zags played on Saturday, many positives came out of the game, the biggest obviously being the fact the Bulldogs won and maintained the WCC lead. In order to get the victory the team had to show significant mental toughness and competitiveness late in the game to overcome the second half deficit that at one point reached seven points. Saturday’s game demonstrated how far this team has come this season, as they stuck together in a hostile gym to pull out a close win even when they were playing far from perfect basketball. Such an effort demonstrates the qualities of a championship team, as in order to win a league title teams must win close games on the road and never stop battling even when it seems the game is lost, as it appeared for the Zags in the final four seconds of regulation when they were down two and the Broncos had the ball. Overall the positive traits of toughness, unity, finding a way to win, and competitiveness outweighed the downsides to the way the Zags played most of the game.

Along with the intrinsic positives mentioned, the way the freshmen won the Zags the game in a difficult league road game was extraordinarily impressive. After a rough first half, Austin was incredible in the second half and overtimes on his way to a career high 22 points, including 13 points in the overtimes and the go-ahead basket in the second overtime. The physical ability to take over a game and score in bunches was once again on display by Daye against the Broncos; however just like the rest of the team it was the mental side of the game that was most impressive in Austin Saturday, especially for a freshmen in a road game. Austin picked up a couple early fouls and did not contribute in the first half, but instead of getting down and going into a hole, as most players tend to do, Austin responded like a great competitor and made huge contributions when the Zags needed them most and lifted Gonzaga to the victory. Austin had plenty of help Saturday from his classmate Steven Gray, who was solid and efficient throughout, and made the game saving plays at the end of regulation by tipping a Bronco pass and then knocking down two pressure packed free throws in the game’s final second.

Similar to Austin, Steven’s play in the final seconds was great from a physical standpoint, the ability to tip the pass, track it down and then the shooting touch to sink the free throws, but it was his mental toughness and confidence to make the big defensive play and then make the free throws that decided the outcome of the game. Steven and Austin were incredible Saturday and played far beyond their years, a good sign for both this season and seasons to come.
Read the last paragraph of Brian's blog here (http://blogs.krem.com/gonzaga/2008/02/freshmen_step_up_to_deliver_wi.html).

BobZag
02-03-2008, 04:56 PM
What, no Uriah Heep? :p

But seriously, I agree with virtually everything Brian says. It was lackluster and subpar, as he observed, but it's a tough bunch with a strong will to win. I don't expect two such efforts in a row. It's out of their system now. Time to bring the A Game.

ZagNative
02-03-2008, 11:08 PM
My favorite part of Brian's blog:

....however just like the rest of the team it was the mental side of the game that was most impressive in Austin Saturday, especially for a freshmen in a road game. Austin picked up a couple early fouls and did not contribute in the first half, but instead of getting down and going into a hole, as most players tend to do, Austin responded like a great competitor and made huge contributions when the Zags needed them most and lifted Gonzaga to the victory.
I was thinking about this tonight and wondering how much progress Austin has made in channeling his fire and competitiveness through the season. After performing very well at St. Joseph's, I remembered him struggling and letting his frustration get the better of him against UConn, to the point where Fewie really got after him. There was a lot of discussion about his "attitude" on the board back then (http://www.guboards.spokesmanreview.com/showthread.php?p=116781#post116781). I liked this that fonebone posted:

I think that Austins "attitude" is one of the best things about him. He is extremely competitive and has amazing confidence. Confidence backed by the skill level he has is an incredible combination. As has been stated, he is young and with support from the rest of the team and the coaches he will add more maturity and learn to channel his emotional fire more productively. But those innate attitudes cannot be taught - they are something the truly great players have. We are lucky he has those attributes, and he is lucky as well - they will serve him well.

Morrison's last two years at GU I frequently told my wife, when we were watching games in the Kennel, that she should appreciate watching Adam because we may never see a scorer like him again. After watching Austin I am beginning to think that I was wrong. If he does turn out to produce at a Morrison like level it will be as much due to his intensity and drive as to his talent. With all the talent we have, he may not ever score as many points as Adam, but that does not mean he could not be as gifted a scorer.

That's a gem right there by fonebone from back on the first of December.

And, no. Can't think of a Uriah Heep song that fits here, despite the fact that Heep always inspires a fit of vacuuming for ZN, which the house would welcome. The only song that seems to fit my mood with 18 hours until I see the next chapter in the Zags' and Austin's development is by Tom Petty.

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

ZagNative
02-03-2008, 11:39 PM
This thread needs a pic! I'd like to think that Austin might get at least one opportunity tonight to match the fist pump his Dad and Grandpa might be giving him from the stands at Moraga!

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff232/ZagNative/Zags/Austin%20Daye/2007-11-29AustinStJosephcelebrates.jpg
Austin at St. Joseph's

ZagNative
02-03-2008, 11:58 PM
Got to love Brian's take on Steven, too:

Similar to Austin, Stevenís play in the final seconds was great from a physical standpoint, the ability to tip the pass, track it down and then the shooting touch to sink the free throws, but it was his mental toughness and confidence to make the big defensive play and then make the free throws that decided the outcome of the game. Steven and Austin were incredible Saturday and played far beyond their years, a good sign for both this season and seasons to come.
And we need a pic of the Washington State HS POY, too. (I love the look on his face! It's as if every nerve in his body were tuned into the moment):

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff232/ZagNative/Zags/Steven%20Gray/2008-01-21StevenSanFranciscopressur.jpg
"Gonzaga's Steven Gray, 32, pressures San Francisco's Dean Hadley, left, in the second half of a
basketball game Monday, Jan. 21, 2008, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. Gray led
Gonzaga with 16 points in Gonzaga's 72-64 victory." Spokesman Review Photo Album (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/inc/photo_slideshow.asp?showid=455)