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Thread: Debating the Top Gonzaga Teams of all time.

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    Default Debating the Top Gonzaga Teams of all time.

    We were having a good discussion on another thread so i decided to have a own thread for this.

    Here is ESPN thoughts with former zag players as well.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.esp...3fplatform=amp

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    Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura handed Duke it's first ever Maui Final defeat. A team which had a peak, healthy Zion Williamson on the roster and had just solidified it's #1 ranking by crushing a very good Kentucky team.

    That's a tough one to top. Probably the best team that a Gonzaga squad has ever defeated. Ever. The Zags were up by double digits for much of the contest.
    Last edited by MickMick; 02-17-2021 at 10:13 AM.
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    Big Shem has a good point, this year's squad w/ Timme & Watson and not much help from the bench would have their hands full dealing w/ Shem, Williams, Collins and they didn't even mention Tillie w/ that group, but he was I think fully healthy as a Fr. for maybe the only time in his career.

    The '19-'20 group doesn't even get mentioned? Almost the entire same group as this year, minus Suggs of course, but add back Tillie, Petrusev, Woolridge and Gilder. They unfortunately didn't get to participate in a Tourney, but cruised thru the season at 31-2.

    Fun debate to have. Not exactly a definitive answer. A lot of good teams over the years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seacatfan View Post
    Big Shem has a good point, this year's squad w/ Timme & Watson and not much help from the bench would have their hands full dealing w/ Shem, Williams, Collins and they didn't even mention Tillie w/ that group, but he was I think fully healthy as a Fr. for maybe the only time in his career.

    The '19-'20 group doesn't even get mentioned? Almost the entire same group as this year, minus Suggs of course, but add back Tillie, Petrusev, Woolridge and Gilder. They unfortunately didn't get to participate in a Tourney, but cruised thru the season at 31-2.

    Fun debate to have. Not exactly a definitive answer. A lot of good teams over the years.
    Yes. Tillie only time i think fully healthy. Maybe soph year.. but Tillie as a freshman in a football stadium calmy stepped up to the line and knocked down the two most important free throws in Zags history i believe to send them to the finals.

    It is interesting that the 2019-2020 team is never mentioned. They were very talented. I dont think as good as 2017 or this year or even 2018-19 but imo, but I dont think anyone would be wrong to believe the 19-20 team belong in that tier as well.

    Am I allowed to have this take: I think 2017 team would beat 2020-21 in a matchup, but 2020-21 is be best Zags team of all time? 2019-2020 would present a matchup problem for this years squad with JW3 and Shem inside. I think Shem would have his way with Timme. Just too big. JW3 would take it to Watson as well. However, I think this team has better overall talent, is more dominant against the rest of the country, has more NBA players, more lottery players, and better guard play which rules the NCAA these days. Also think we are getting a more mature Few.

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    I thought I remembered Tillie having something hurt on his hand? I remember him having some kind of tape on one of them in 2017.
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    A game against the 2017 team would be a battle for sure, but I wouldn't worry too much about how Drew would compete with those guys. Erik Mika (6'10" 230) managed 29 points in that final game of the season.

    I'm actually more curious how well the guards would match up.

    Williams-Goss 6'3" Jr
    Mathews 6'3" Sr
    Perkins 6'3" So
    Melson 6'4" Jr

    Suggs 6'4" Fr
    Ayayi 6'5" Jr
    Nembhard 6'5" Jr
    Cook 6'1" Sr

    FWIW, Sports Reference and Barttorvik rate this year's group of 4 a little bit better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scrooner View Post
    A game against the 2017 team would be a battle for sure, but I wouldn't worry too much about how Drew would compete with those guys. Erik Mika (6'10" 230) managed 29 points in that final game of the season.

    I'm actually more curious how well the guards would match up.

    Williams-Goss 6'3" Jr
    Mathews 6'3" Sr
    Perkins 6'3" So
    Melson 6'4" Jr

    Suggs 6'4" Fr
    Ayayi 6'5" Jr
    Nembhard 6'5" Jr
    Cook 6'1" Sr

    FWIW, Sports Reference and Barttorvik rate this year's group of 4 a little bit better.
    This years guards are better. Nwg was a STUD, and I mean STUD. He was the best college player out of that group That year Perkins was okay but still hadn’t grown into final Perkins level. Melson was solid off the bench but not as good as Nembhard or even cook IMO. The talent 1-4 w this years guards is better than what you got with your stud in Nigel. Matthew’s hit a few huge shots in March but also drove it to the hole that tournament with little success.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scrooner View Post
    A game against the 2017 team would be a battle for sure, but I wouldn't worry too much about how Drew would compete with those guys. Erik Mika (6'10" 230) managed 29 points in that final game of the season.

    I'm actually more curious how well the guards would match up.

    Williams-Goss 6'3" Jr
    Mathews 6'3" Sr
    Perkins 6'3" So
    Melson 6'4" Jr

    Suggs 6'4" Fr
    Ayayi 6'5" Jr
    Nembhard 6'5" Jr
    Cook 6'1" Sr

    FWIW, Sports Reference and Barttorvik rate this year's group of 4 a little bit better.
    Goss and suggs would be good.
    Ayayi over mathews
    Nembhard over perk
    Cook and melson even


    All imo of course.

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    To me the biggest variable regarding the best ZAG team over the years is the maturation of Coach Few. Even a few years ago he was much tighter in the Dance than he is now, as mentioned in other posts and threads, and it was obvious in how the players reacted at the ends of those games. Remember the old saw "Few, round of 32"........Like any athlete, Coach has improved over the years into the HOF Coach he clearly is now.

    Coach seems much more relaxed now, letting the guys play more free and allowing the guys to play through their mistakes. Even as recently as a few years ago, if Jalen would have air-balled a 3 he would have received an instant hook and a long seat on the pine. Surely a FF helps take that monkey off your back, as does a consistent Top 10 ranking.

    Right or wrong, this discussion is centered only on how far teams went/would have gone in the Dance, and there are just so many variables in a one and done scenario. Dickau was human in one big game and that disqualifies his team from Top 10 ever discussion?? The Stepp teams were great as well but Blake "underperformed" in the Dance as a ZAG so those teams are eliminated from discussions. That double OT loss to AZ was one of the best games I ever saw and if Blake's putback at the end would have dropped...........who knows.

    Fun discussion, it's nice to have so many options to choose from.

    Go ZAGS

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    Quote Originally Posted by TacomaZAG View Post
    To me the biggest variable regarding the best ZAG team over the years is the maturation of Coach Few. Even a few years ago he was much tighter in the Dance than he is now, as mentioned in other posts and threads, and it was obvious in how the players reacted at the ends of those games. Remember the old saw "Few, round of 32"........Like any athlete, Coach has improved over the years into the HOF Coach he clearly is now.

    Coach seems much more relaxed now, letting the guys play more free and allowing the guys to play through their mistakes. Even as recently as a few years ago, if Jalen would have air-balled a 3 he would have received an instant hook and a long seat on the pine. Surely a FF helps take that monkey off your back, as does a consistent Top 10 ranking.

    Right or wrong, this discussion is centered only on how far teams went/would have gone in the Dance, and there are just so many variables in a one and done scenario. Dickau was human in one big game and that disqualifies his team from Top 10 ever discussion?? The Stepp teams were great as well but Blake "underperformed" in the Dance as a ZAG so those teams are eliminated from discussions. That double OT loss to AZ was one of the best games I ever saw and if Blake's putback at the end would have dropped...........who knows.

    Fun discussion, it's nice to have so many options to choose from.

    Go ZAGS
    Agree with this 100% -- the game seems to have slowed-down for Coach Few the last three years or so. With most human endeavors, the more experience we have, the more we tend to improve. As you point out, for many years Coach Few's anxiety, or stress, or however you want to characterize it, was palpable in big games. It's probably going too far to say that some moments might have been too big for him, but there were times when the game seemed to be unfolding too fast for him (UCLA 2006, Syracuse 2016). He now has the appearance and a guy who is comfortable, more relaxed, and enjoying the moment.

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    The 2017 squad would beat this year's team in my opinion. I think it would be close, but the biggest factor in my opinion is interior defense. This year's team is not great from three, we torch teams inside the arc. That would be difficult against an interior with Big Shem, Williams, and Collins.
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyzag View Post
    The 2017 squad would beat this year's team in my opinion. I think it would be close, but the biggest factor in my opinion is interior defense. This year's team is not great from three, we torch teams inside the arc. That would be difficult against an interior with Big Shem, Williams, and Collins.
    That was my take earlier in this thread too. I do think this team is better overall but i think head to head i think 2017 would win based on interior defense inside. They dont make teams like that inside anymore.

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    This team probably plays Shem off the floor in the pick and roll. Collins would match up well in theory--if he could stay on the court. Or perhaps if the refs didn't call absurd fouls on him. But the 2021 team has more top end talent so I'll side with them, despite the weaker depth.

    2019 team is probably closest to this team imo but relying on Norvell, Perkins, and sophomore Kispert in the backcourt/wing was a little too inconsistent for my liking. So yeah, I've said it all year and maintain pretty confidently that this is the best team GU has had and it would also beat any other previous team. Few is also coaching at the highest level he has before, with a modern offense that fits his personnel and generates incredible looks all game.

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    Love these hypothetical discussions and all the "what ifs" involved. Along these lines, last night I was thinking about this stuff and had the thought, "What if Casey Calvary's tip in 1999 had rolled off the rim instead of dropping in"?? Would any of following 20+ years of success happened to the sleepy little school out in the middle of nowhere?? I know..........perish the thought!!

    Just goes to show how these things are balanced on a knife edge, how much luck or "right place at the right time" plays into these things.

    Firing up the "way back" machine, I wonder if Wally Pipp thought his headache one day would lead to Lou Gehrig??

    I'm just glad the tip-in dropped, and have loved the ride since then. We are pretty spoiled to even be able to have this discussion with a straight face. Covid needs to end so I have other things to think about...........................

    Go ZAGS

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    Quote Originally Posted by TacomaZAG View Post
    Love these hypothetical discussions and all the "what ifs" involved. Along these lines, last night I was thinking about this stuff and had the thought, "What if Casey Calvary's tip in 1999 had rolled off the rim instead of dropping in"?? Would any of following 20+ years of success happened to the sleepy little school out in the middle of nowhere?? I know..........perish the thought!!

    Just goes to show how these things are balanced on a knife edge, how much luck or "right place at the right time" plays into these things.

    Firing up the "way back" machine, I wonder if Wally Pipp thought his headache one day would lead to Lou Gehrig??

    I'm just glad the tip-in dropped, and have loved the ride since then. We are pretty spoiled to even be able to have this discussion with a straight face. Covid needs to end so I have other things to think about...........................

    Go ZAGS
    My favorite Gonzaga what if scenario is if Blake Stepp's bank shot in the 2nd overtime of the Arizona NCAA tournament game went in.
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
    -Zach Norvell Jr.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zags11 View Post
    We were having a good discussion on another thread so i decided to have a own thread for this.

    Here is ESPN thoughts with former zag players as well.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.esp...3fplatform=amp
    It’s not even close this years team is the best team ever in a Zag uniform and to play in the WCC.

    Ballo btw has turned into a MONSTER!!! Love watching development

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    This team is currently number 3 behind the National Champion runner up team and the 2018/2019 team. However, this is the best passing team and most fast paced team compared to them all. Think the level of competition was greater for those two other teams. This year is a weaker year when thinking about the competition.

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    If they win a first Natty this will be the greatest, even if they aren't the best!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zagfan1 View Post
    This team is currently number 3 behind the National Champion runner up team and the 2018/2019 team. However, this is the best passing team and most fast paced team compared to them all. Think the level of competition was greater for those two other teams. This year is a weaker year when thinking about the competition.
    Really, this season is the season that separates itself through the aspect of coaching. If you were to describe coaching in a single word, it would be best defined as preparation. This erratic, chaotic COVID season has probably taxed preparation more than anything else. Certainly, the lack of preparation has demonstrated itself on the court by many of GU's opponents. In most cases and through no fault of their own, due to geography, timing, and luck. Regardless, this season is uniquely defined by the coaches that can adapt, adjust, or embrace and conquer change. The GU experience really shines when it's forced decisions on the fly are naturally conducive to winning and brand building.

    In other words, the Gonzaga coaching staff has really separated itself as one of the finest, if not the best coaching staff in the land.
    Last edited by MickMick; 02-22-2021 at 06:49 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MickMick View Post
    Really, this season is the season that separates itself through the aspect of coaching. If you were to describe coaching in a single word, it would be best defined as preparation. This erratic, chaotic COVID season has probably taxed preparation more than anything else. Certainly, the lack of preparation has demonstrated itself on the court by many of GU's opponents. In most cases and through no fault of their own, due to geography, timing, and luck. Regardless, this season is uniquely defined by the coaches that can adapt, adjust, or embrace and conquer change. The GU experience really shines when it's forced decisions on the fly are naturally conducive to winning and brand building.

    In other words, the Gonzaga coaching staff has really separated itself as one of the finest, if not the best coaching staffs in the land.
    Totally agree MM. For that reason, the Tourney game that scares me the most is the 2nd game on the first weekend. Very short turnaround against the 8/9 seed, typically a 3rd or 4th place Big 10, Big 12, or SEC team who wants to beat you up and play the game in the 50's and 60's. The staff and guys will be as prepared as possible but that is the game that scares me the most.

    Go ZAGS

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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyzag View Post
    My favorite Gonzaga what if scenario is if Blake Stepp's bank shot in the 2nd overtime of the Arizona NCAA tournament game went in.
    Mine too but Zags probably would’ve lost next round. The UCLA game another story. That team was destined for the F4 if not the natty. I think a decent ND team was next opponent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzdelmar View Post
    Mine too but Zags probably would’ve lost next round. The UCLA game another story. That team was destined for the F4 if not the natty. I think a decent ND team was next opponent.
    The next game would have been a rematch with Memphis. Somehow UCLA won a rock fight 50-45 to make the final four.

    I’m still not over it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzdelmar View Post
    Mine too but Zags probably would’ve lost next round. The UCLA game another story. That team was destined for the F4 if not the natty. I think a decent ND team was next opponent.
    I'm not so sure, 2006 was flashy, but brittle. Defense was middle of the road for D1. Offense consisted of Batista+Morrison (with a side dish of Raivio).

    The first team I can think of that had both the personnel, playstyle, and resilience to have a legitimate go for the championship was 2009. Even then, '09 was hampered by a frosh Sacre injury redshirt, and staff pushing Heytvelt to bulk up to try to play like a Violette-type rather than the more Tillie-like player he could (and IMO should) have been.
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    I’ve thought quite a bit about how many teams we’ve had that could realistically win the title. And even though the defense of the Morrison teams wasn’t what it typically needed to be, I included them because the margins were so slim on the losses and I probably give them a better shot than the 2009 team which ultimately was talented but unreliable and not especially resistant to adversity. Pre 2013 I had 1999 based on how closely they played UConn in the E8, 05 and 06. Texas Tech and UCLA losses still hurt a little. If Kenpom is the guide then the 09 team was the first real shot considering how bad the defensive rankings were in the mid-2000s. I just know I trusted Morrison and company more. (And the 2004 team had a pretty impressive Kenpom ranking, too.)
    Last edited by zagfan08; 02-22-2021 at 02:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Once and Future Zag View Post
    I'm not so sure, 2006 was flashy, but brittle. Defense was middle of the road for D1. Offense consisted of Batista+Morrison (with a side dish of Raivio).

    The first team I can think of that had both the personnel, playstyle, and resilience to have a legitimate go for the championship was 2009. Even then, '09 was hampered by a frosh Sacre injury redshirt, and staff pushing Heytvelt to bulk up to try to play like a Violette-type rather than the more Tillie-like player he could (and IMO should) have been.
    This and absolutely this.

    First middle of the road is pretty generous for that 06 team On defense. It was middle of road for D1 like you said but for tourney teams that 174 was pathetic. That being said they still shouldve at least made the Elite Eight.

    2009 though I agree had personnel to go to Final Four. But they also put themselves in their terrible spot by losing to teams like Portland State. Ugh. And Portland state had to bus forever lol bad bad bad memories
    Qualified for 23 Straight Big Dances

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    The Best Point Guard to ever play the game: John Stockton, most assists, most steals.

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