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Thread: An educated assessment ...

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    Default An educated assessment ...

    Not surprisingly, many of you point fingers at the players after tough losses and express confusion as to why they have a tough time winning big games when it's so clear they are loaded with talent. I posed these questions to a former 12 year NBA veteran (that played the 4 position) and was very successful in his career.

    I know many of you think Gonzaga struggles because of a "lack of effort" or "attitude problems," but I want all of you to read where the majority of the problems lie (in the opinion of someone who knows all too well)

    Below are the questions I asked, followed by his exact responses.



    1. Why does Gonzaga have such a difficult time with bigger opponents?

    Gonzaga plays small ball with big people. Mark Few is coaching a big team but is using a small man's offense. He needs to change with his personnel. But, like most coaches, they know one offense and will live or die with that system. They either don't know or believe TODAY'S PLAYERS can learn more than one offensive set, which in Coach Few's case, is motion.



    2. Why do they struggle with rebounding … both offensively and defensively?

    The strength of the Motion Offense is that you never know where a player might be at any time so it is difficult to scout and prepare for defensively. That is also The Motion Offense’s biggest weakness. The offensive big men might be on the post or the perimeter at any time. The Motion Offense is unpredictable! Big Men HATE the Motion offense. When you run set plays most plays are designed to have two to three guys on the boards at all times. The Big Guys know when the shot is going up so they can fight for position before the shot is taken. That never happens when running a motion offense. Defensively, a good coach who plays man to man tries to funnel players in a certain direction … i.e. baseline or to the help player etc. Coach Few’s defense has holes everywhere for attack and his zone defense is very weak.



    3. Why does Coach Few insist on playing a motion offense instead of set plays?

    The main motion offenses are 5-man motion, 4-out 1 in motion, 3 out 2 in motion and Flex. Unless Gonzaga runs motion like North Carolina where the focus is getting inside or to the big guy on the box or free throw line, it is a bad offense for guys 6'9 and taller... Motion is designed to spread the floor to create spacing for drives and three point shooters. Big Guys don't drive and usually don't shoot 3-pointers. I have seen Mark Few run great set plays out of timeouts. His players always seem to score or get fouled. I think coaches are lazy when all they teach and run is motion. It is impossible to think one offensive set can beat every team. You will never see a college football coach call one play for the entire game. Why should basketball be any different ?



    4. What are the obvious signs that our big men aren't being taught proper and productive post moves by the coaches that are supposed to be teaching them?

    When a Big Man catches the ball in the post and immediately passes back out, you know he doesn't have a post move. You can see the fear in the player's eyes when he catches the ball.



    5. Why won't this style of play ever yield a win in the NCAA tournament?

    5 man out motion will not win a championship. You must pound the inside and control the boards to win championships. Look at Florida's two championships. The two 7 footers in the middle controlled the paint, on defense and the boards.



    5. Why can't the Gonzaga coaches admit their mistakes and come up with an offense that will give Gonzaga a chance to win?

    For the Same reason UCLA lost three times in the final four. You can't run the same thing and think someone can't stop your offense. The Triangle Offense was stopped last year by Boston. Kobe couldn't get a shot off... UCLA and the Lakers use one offensive set. Boston and Florida run several offenses and plays … both played excellent defense. Rebounding and defense wins Championships!!!



    6. Why do our big guys work so hard to get open in the post, just to be looked off by the guards that subsequently shoot a bomb?

    Mark Few doesn't believe in the post game or his post players. If he did, he would force the guard to get the ball inside to the big men every game. Mark Few will need inside scoring in the Playoffs, but it will never happen. If you don't develop an inside game during the season, it won't be ready in the Playoffs.



    7. Why do you feel it takes a former player at the 4 or 5 position to successfully coach big guys post moves?

    Big Men fight for younger big men... A small coach may know the moves in theory but he doesn't have passion about the position. When I see a former guard assigned to teach the post, I laugh. You never see a 7'0 ex player teaching guard moves ... Kareem has made Andrew Bynum of the Lakers a great young center. If one of the guard coaches had tried to teach Bynum, the young man would not be as good as he is today.



    8. Why is it basketball suicide for any "big" to come to Gonzaga?

    Name me a great post player ever to come out of Gonzaga. Name me a great Guard or Guards from Gonzaga? Name me great big men from UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown or North Carolina. These schools have a history of developing great big men. If I was a big man I would run not walk away from Gonzaga. This is a Guard school, nothing wrong with that, if you are a guard!

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    Casey, Cory, Ronny and J.P. may disagree with that assessment. And was the assessment true the year Gonzaga led the nation (and finished top 5) in Rebounding (differential between rebounds and rebounds given up)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oczagfan View Post
    8. Why is it basketball suicide for any "big" to come to Gonzaga?

    Name me a great post player ever to come out of Gonzaga. Name me a great Guard or Guards from Gonzaga? Name me great big men from UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown or North Carolina. These schools have a history of developing great big men. If I was a big man I would run not walk away from Gonzaga. This is a Guard school, nothing wrong with that, if you are a guard!
    Casey Calvary, Cory Violette, Jeff Brown, Bakari Hendrix, Ronny Turiaf and JP Batista were all under recruited big men who thrived offensively and improved immensely as big men at Gonzaga and all were great players for our program. No offense to whomever the mystery interviewee is (who makes some good points), but he doesn't seem to know the personnnel that have been through Gonzaga.

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    Started out interesting, but seemed to turn pretty quickly into a Few witch hunt. Certainly some of the points are valid, but I hope those weren't the actual questions that were asked. "Why won't the GU coaches admit their mistakes..." "Why won't this ever yield an NCAA Tournament championship..." seem to be pretty negative questions, not really soliciting open feedback.

    I would agree that our inside game/big men remain pretty under-developed. The responses are very correct when they say "Name me a great post player to ever come out of Gonzaga." JP, Cory, Turiaf, etc., were solid inside players, but none have become "greats" outside of our GU-lensed world. With some better development, however, I think it might have been a possibility.

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    Thanks OC for these insights. I agree and disagree with multiple parts of your post, especially hows these views pertain to GU and this years team.

    Whatever people say, I agree that former big men should teach young big men. I'm sure smaller coaches can understand and their are definitely exceptions to the rule (i.e. Pete Newell) but It has to be more helpful to learn from a person that has experienced it first hand.

    As far as the opinion of the motion offense I'm a little skeptical. There have most certainly been teams that have been very successful with motion offenses and I believe it depends 100% on the types of players.

    This years team does not have a classic low post big man like Kareem or Bill Walton. No matter how much we want Josh to fit the J.P. mold, he never will. With the types of players we have, the motion offense makes the most sense.

    The fundamental philosophy of the classic low post man is starting to die out. The amount of classic big men has decreased severally and basketball is migrating towards European trend of big men that are mobile and can shoot.

    They're just aren't enough big men to go around anymore, and the few that are available (i.e. Josh Smith) will go to big name, big conference teams like UCLA and UNC.

    The rest of the country is then forced to play with undersized bigs that try to pull classic bigs out the the perimeter or recruit "project bigs" and hope they can become productive during their senior year.

  6. #6

    Default My Co-Worker just asked me

    A question I could not answer....

    "When was the last time Few took the blame?" Or when have you heard any of the coaching staff say... "It was our or my fault" I or we did not prepare or game plan correctly???

    Not trying to pile on....just saying

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    Quote Originally Posted by theirishzag03 View Post
    A question I could not answer....

    "When was the last time Few took the blame?" Or when have you heard any of the coaching staff say... "It was our or my fault" I or we did not prepare or game plan correctly???

    Not trying to pile on....just saying
    Great point. He should take the blame for 9 straight dances. He should take blame for the National schedule. He should take blame for double figures in tourney wins. There's a lot he should take the blame for ---- yet he doesn't.

    Conversely, I don't recall him ever saying that he WAS the hero. I worked really hard on recruiting and I signed a GREAT class. I really game planned well and that's why we won.

    I wonder why? Do you think maybe because it's not all about him, or his staff? They succeed as a team --- and in cases where they're not successful it's as a team? Maybe?

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    Yeah, I'd like to know who this NBA stud was... Its easy for people to put the blame on coaching. Afterall, all you have to do, is fire him and sign someone else who will "build the program overtime"... Few and Gonzaga have had plenty of successfull Bigs go through the program. Gonzaga used to be among the nations best rebounding teams for years.... Gonzaga has No TRUE Centers, with the exception of Big Rob, and I guess Foster, if you can call him a basketball player.. Daye and Heytvelt are NOT centers, and You cant teach them to be something they aren't.

    Second, Gonzaga's offense has rarely ever been a problem. The problem is, Gonzaga lacks true Big men down low. This means No post play, and bad rebounding. Combine that with Pargo's ability to SUCK terribly, and You're going to lose games.

    Calvary, Violette, Turiaf, Batista... Not a shabby group of Bigs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GonzagaDynasty View Post
    Yeah, I'd like to know who this NBA stud was.....
    I am guessing David Greenwood - UCLA.
    "You can observe a lot just by watching"
    Yogi Berra

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    Keeping it classy!

    Quote Originally Posted by GonzagaDynasty View Post
    and I guess Foster, if you can call him a basketball player

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    5. Why won't this style of play ever yield a win in the NCAA tournament?

    5 man out motion will not win a championship. You must pound the inside and control the boards to win championships. Look at Florida's two championships. The two 7 footers in the middle controlled the paint, on defense and the boards.
    I seem to recall Gonzaga teams in the past consistently and successfully pounding the ball into the post. Of course, when you have classic big men like Cory Violette, Ronny Turiaf, JP Batista and Richard Fox it makes it all the more easier to do. I don't see a classic back to the basket big man currently dressed for the games right now.

    Having a coach who was previously played PF or C positionsin college or the NBA is always a plus, but is it necessary? I have my doubts because otherwise you would see teams stocking their coaching rosters with former big men. Just because you played the position doesn't mean you can coach it and conversely just because you didn't play the position doesn't mean you can't coach it. My feeling on this is that they are recruited with a certain skill set and are developed while here at Gonzaga. I see the development of formers bigs (that were lightly recruited at that) as proof of that.

    An interesting Q & A that brings up some valid points, but suffers from being slanted in the type of questions (mostly negative) asked.
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    Ya gotta love "mystery men"

    Ya gotta be amused by California.
    Go Zags...
    Go Pilots...
    Orange County <sigh>
    A Zag is generous.

    A Zag knows he is much more than the sum of his stats.

    A Zag has a desire to be part of something that is bigger than himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oczagfan View Post
    Not surprisingly, many of you point fingers at the players after tough losses and express confusion as to why they have a tough time winning big games when it's so clear they are loaded with talent. I posed these questions to a former 12 year NBA veteran (that played the 4 position) and was very successful in his career.

    I know many of you think Gonzaga struggles because of a "lack of effort" or "attitude problems," but I want all of you to read where the majority of the problems lie (in the opinion of someone who knows all too well)

    Below are the questions I asked, followed by his exact responses.



    1. Why does Gonzaga have such a difficult time with bigger opponents?

    Gonzaga plays small ball with big people. Mark Few is coaching a big team but is using a small man's offense. He needs to change with his personnel. But, like most coaches, they know one offense and will live or die with that system. They either don't know or believe TODAY'S PLAYERS can learn more than one offensive set, which in Coach Few's case, is motion.



    2. Why do they struggle with rebounding … both offensively and defensively?

    The strength of the Motion Offense is that you never know where a player might be at any time so it is difficult to scout and prepare for defensively. That is also The Motion Offense’s biggest weakness. The offensive big men might be on the post or the perimeter at any time. The Motion Offense is unpredictable! Big Men HATE the Motion offense. When you run set plays most plays are designed to have two to three guys on the boards at all times. The Big Guys know when the shot is going up so they can fight for position before the shot is taken. That never happens when running a motion offense. Defensively, a good coach who plays man to man tries to funnel players in a certain direction … i.e. baseline or to the help player etc. Coach Few’s defense has holes everywhere for attack and his zone defense is very weak.



    3. Why does Coach Few insist on playing a motion offense instead of set plays?

    The main motion offenses are 5-man motion, 4-out 1 in motion, 3 out 2 in motion and Flex. Unless Gonzaga runs motion like North Carolina where the focus is getting inside or to the big guy on the box or free throw line, it is a bad offense for guys 6'9 and taller... Motion is designed to spread the floor to create spacing for drives and three point shooters. Big Guys don't drive and usually don't shoot 3-pointers. I have seen Mark Few run great set plays out of timeouts. His players always seem to score or get fouled. I think coaches are lazy when all they teach and run is motion. It is impossible to think one offensive set can beat every team. You will never see a college football coach call one play for the entire game. Why should basketball be any different ?



    4. What are the obvious signs that our big men aren't being taught proper and productive post moves by the coaches that are supposed to be teaching them?

    When a Big Man catches the ball in the post and immediately passes back out, you know he doesn't have a post move. You can see the fear in the player's eyes when he catches the ball.



    5. Why won't this style of play ever yield a win in the NCAA tournament?

    5 man out motion will not win a championship. You must pound the inside and control the boards to win championships. Look at Florida's two championships. The two 7 footers in the middle controlled the paint, on defense and the boards.



    5. Why can't the Gonzaga coaches admit their mistakes and come up with an offense that will give Gonzaga a chance to win?

    For the Same reason UCLA lost three times in the final four. You can't run the same thing and think someone can't stop your offense. The Triangle Offense was stopped last year by Boston. Kobe couldn't get a shot off... UCLA and the Lakers use one offensive set. Boston and Florida run several offenses and plays … both played excellent defense. Rebounding and defense wins Championships!!!



    6. Why do our big guys work so hard to get open in the post, just to be looked off by the guards that subsequently shoot a bomb?

    Mark Few doesn't believe in the post game or his post players. If he did, he would force the guard to get the ball inside to the big men every game. Mark Few will need inside scoring in the Playoffs, but it will never happen. If you don't develop an inside game during the season, it won't be ready in the Playoffs.



    7. Why do you feel it takes a former player at the 4 or 5 position to successfully coach big guys post moves?

    Big Men fight for younger big men... A small coach may know the moves in theory but he doesn't have passion about the position. When I see a former guard assigned to teach the post, I laugh. You never see a 7'0 ex player teaching guard moves ... Kareem has made Andrew Bynum of the Lakers a great young center. If one of the guard coaches had tried to teach Bynum, the young man would not be as good as he is today.



    8. Why is it basketball suicide for any "big" to come to Gonzaga?

    Name me a great post player ever to come out of Gonzaga. Name me a great Guard or Guards from Gonzaga? Name me great big men from UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown or North Carolina. These schools have a history of developing great big men. If I was a big man I would run not walk away from Gonzaga. This is a Guard school, nothing wrong with that, if you are a guard!
    Reminds me of the old posts by Mikeness.....could it be him or a just an imitaion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vandalzag View Post
    Reminds me of the old posts by Mikeness.....could it be him or a just an imitaion?
    While there certainly are similarities -- my guess is Mikeness would show off his "knowledge" himself -- without interjecting a mystery big man.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoZags View Post
    While there certainly are similarities -- my guess is Mikeness would show off his "knowledge" himself -- without interjecting a mystery big man.
    I don't know...Mikeness has been missing for so long from these parts (thankfully so) as he didn't always get the warm reception his basketball addled brain thought was rightfully his. That guy could put a monkey on meth to sleep. No joke.
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    Coach Few runs more offense then just the motion and has many set plays. He also has sets for different players and makes adjustments to the type of team on the floor. For example much of what we are seeing now is vastly different then when we had JP or RT. Too many diff offenses can put college players into overload. The NCAA only allows so many hours of practice every week add in studies and travel your in overload. In college ball their is something to be said for keeping it simple. Sounds as if the agenda was prefaced with the wrong questions!

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    Why do they struggle with rebounding … both offensively and defensively? The strength of the Motion Offense is that you never know where a player might be at any time so it is difficult to scout and prepare for defensively. That is also The Motion Offense’s biggest weakness. The offensive big men might be on the post or the perimeter at any time. The Motion Offense is unpredictable! Big Men HATE the Motion offense. When you run set plays most plays are designed to have two to three guys on the boards at all times. The Big Guys know when the shot is going up so they can fight for position before the shot is taken. That never happens when running a motion offense. Defensively, a good coach who plays man to man tries to funnel players in a certain direction … i.e. baseline or to the help player etc. Coach Few’s defense has holes everywhere for attack and his zone defense is very weak.
    Then how do you account for the fact that several of Few's teams this decade have been among the best rebounding teams in the nation in that particular year? The 2001/02 team, for instance, had dang near a +10 rebounding margin and finished 10th in the nation in total rebounds per game.

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    Great point. He should take the blame for 9 straight dances. He should take blame for the National schedule. He should take blame for double figures in tourney wins. There's a lot he should take the blame for ---- yet he doesn't.

    Conversely, I don't recall him ever saying that he WAS the hero. I worked really hard on recruiting and I signed a GREAT class. I really game planned well and that's why we won.

    I wonder why? Do you think maybe because it's not all about him, or his staff? They succeed as a team --- and in cases where they're not successful it's as a team? Maybe?
    Always with the sarcasm GoZags. Some things just never change and your love for Mr. Few is never ending.

    Irish, I agree completely. You always hear other coaches taking some or all of the blame when their teams play poorly. I don't think I've ever heard coach Few do that. Not that it's necessary or required for a coach to do but every once in a while it wouldn't hurt for some of the blame and pressure be taken off the players and put on the coach's shoulders. Tony Bennett does it occasionally at Wazzu and from what I've heard the players really respect it and makes them want to play better the next time out.

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    I kind of figured there would be that kind of response when the subject of coaching came up. No surprise! Yes there have been good bigs to come out of Gonzaga, but the comment was to name a "great post player," NOT a good post player. If you think Casey Calvary, Cory Violette, Jeff Brown, Bakari Hendrix, Ronny Turiaf and JP Batista were GREAT big men and compare to the "greats" of the game, then there is no discussing his point.

    Just for laughs, what if Few would have started Will at the 5, Josh at the 4, Austin at the 3 and Micah at the 2 against Memphis??? Can you imagine how that would have disrupted things??? Do you think those guards would have been so willing to drive into the lane with the great wall waiting for them?

    All I'm saying is, adjustments need to be made and it doesn't seem that's happening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oczagfan View Post
    If you think Casey Calvary, Cory Violette, Jeff Brown, Bakari Hendrix, Ronny Turiaf and JP Batista were GREAT big men and compare to the "greats" of the game, then there is no discussing his point.
    Fair point and question.

    How many "great" big men exist in all of college basketball today? How many in the last 10 years? 20 years? How many of those great big men compare to the greats of the game?
    Last edited by former1dog; 02-11-2009 at 02:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oczagfan View Post
    I kind of figured there would be that kind of response when the subject of coaching came up. No surprise! Yes there have been good bigs to come out of Gonzaga, but the comment was to name a "great post player," NOT a good post player. If you think Casey Calvary, Cory Violette, Jeff Brown, Bakari Hendrix, Ronny Turiaf and JP Batista were GREAT big men and compare to the "greats" of the game, then there is no discussing his point.

    Just for laughs, what if Few would have started Will at the 5, Josh at the 4, Austin at the 3 and Micah at the 2 against Memphis??? Can you imagine how that would have disrupted things??? Do you think those guards would have been so willing to drive into the lane with the great wall waiting for them?

    All I'm saying is, adjustments need to be made and it doesn't seem that's happening.
    So that's the problem. Few can't recruit the top big men in the country ..... now why would Oden have chosen Ohio State over Gonzaga? Obviously because they could develop him. Jabbar? Hakeem? Dikembe (was he great? I think so). Shaq? Why weren't they Zags? Darn that Few.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoZags View Post
    So that's the problem. Few can't recruit the top big men in the country ..... now why would Oden have chosen Ohio State over Gonzaga? Obviously because they could develop him. Jabbar? Hakeem? Dikembe (was he great? I think so). Shaq? Why weren't they Zags? Darn that Few.
    There was never a mention of recruiting in any of my discussion ... as a matter of fact, I think Gonzaga has loads of talent and the coaches aren't making the best use of it.

    Why is it the mere mention of coaching flaws and many of you get bent out of shape? I guess the players are supposed to take the criticism but the coaches are exempt. But hey, if they have nothing to improve or change (like so many of you claim) then Championship banners should be hanging in the rafters.

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    From a personal standpoint, I'm not fond of player complaints either.

    We've just heard that the Zag's "great" bigs weren't "great" -- they were good. I'm wondering how many "great" bigs there really are? And how many were "developed" vs actually being good when they got to school (if, in fact, they went to school).

    This anonymous, mystery NBA big man, has he followed Gonzaga for more than 1 1/2 years? Or has he been watching while GU while they have had a dearth of "wide bodies" in the paint?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oczagfan View Post
    Why is it the mere mention of coaching flaws and many of you get bent out of shape?
    That's quite an overgeneralization. Speaking for myself, I disagree with your premise that we aren't developing big men. The more general idea that our coaching could improve to me is not all that controversial. Of course our coaching can improve and I think it has. I personally have some criticisms of our coaching and have expressed those at times in this forum..

    But as to our specific disagreement, I'd sure like you to address my previous post where I posed some questions for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by former1dog View Post
    Fair point and question.

    How many "great" big men exist in all of college basketball today? How many in the last 10 years? 20 years? How many of those great big men compare to the greats of the game?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cggonzaga View Post
    Some things just never change and your love for Mr. Few is never ending.
    Is it a bad thing to love the coach of the team you're rooting for? I'm confused.

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