Slow Turning

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Gonzaga Thoughts

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I had a revelation after watching Gonzaga’s games against St Mary’s and San Diego:  since their game against Duke, they’ve been playing really good basketball.  Ok, maybe that’s not an earth shattering revelation but in addition to winning, they’ve also developed a really good chemistry on the court.  I have always been impressed with their talent, and now they have a combination of talent, chemistry, and momentum in their favor that’s put them in a really good basketball groove.  (I feel like there should be a song for this but I can’t think of one.)

I have a confession to make.  While I have been an Elias Harris fan since I first saw him in a Gonzaga uniform, it wasn’t until the St. Mary’s game that I was absolutely blown away by him.  What impressed me the most wasn’t that he scored 30+ points but that each point was significant to the game.  I’m not sure if there’s a stat for it, but it would be interesting to see how many of his points stopped St. Mary’s momentum and/or ended a run for them. 

Steven Gray, while not the scoring force that Harris was, had a double double and, in my opinion, just as impressive of a game.  From the moment the game started, Gray had a look that said bring it.  He was oozing confidence and his play backed up his attitude.  I loved every minute of it.  What impressed me the most about Gray’s game was his defense.  He started out guarding Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s oversized Senior leader (perhaps contributing to Samhan’s 6-point first half), and ended the night guarding Jorden Page, SMC’s 3-point shooting freshman.  I’m sure players rotate defensive assignments more times than I would ever want to count in a single game, but in a big game, I think it’s telling that Gray was given such diverse assignments. 

Matt Bouldin may have had the quietest 22-point game I’ve seen in awhile.  I think what impresses me most about him, is that he does whatever he needs to do to make sure his team has a chance to win.  Close to the end of the game, I think he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but he got back to the line and made both shots.  That was not the most important moment of the game but I liked it.  I have to be honest, though, what stood out the most to me about Bouldin during the St. Mary’s game was his haircut.

For the first time, I thought Demtri Goodson should not be the starting point guard for Gonzaga.  Actually, I’ve never thought he should be the starting point guard, but during the St. Mary’s game, I thought that he shouldn’t be a starter at all.  It was painful watching Goodson.  He had some good moments, but overall, Gonzaga did better when he was on the bench.  With all that being said, he had a really good game against USD.  I’m not sure what his numbers were like but USD couldn’t handle his speed.  I think Gonzaga is better with him coming off the bench. He could provide a much needed spark for the team while still getting game experience that would prepare him for next year.  

Will Foster was the biggest surprise over the weekend.  He was amazing in the St. Mary’s game!  I tend to favor guards over big men in basketball, so I wasn’t expecting much from Foster when he entered the game.  He started off with a turnover but then went into a really nice stretch of play.  He moves really well and showed a lot of heart during the St. Mary’s game. 

I don’t want to keep harping on this but I really believe that if Gonzaga wants to make a post season run, they need to improve their free throw shooting.  I think they went into the bonus early in the St. Mary’s game, and my thought was so what?  They are absolutely not a threat from the line, and if I was an opposing coach with a player to spare, I would spend the end-of-game stretch fouling Gonzaga and make them beat me from the line.  That being said, I am happy that Gonzaga is not relying on getting to the line to win games.  

Seth Davis had some interesting comments in this week’s Hoop Thoughts
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/seth_davis/01/18/nonconference.strength/index.html
• Gonzaga pulled off an amazing feat when it opened conference play by beating its top three WCC rivals on the road. But the Zags are making 66.3 percent from the foul line, which ranks last in the league. That has to catch up with them sometime, right?
• Speaking of Gonzaga, an interesting scenario is developing there. Spokane is hosting an NCAA tournament first-round site, but because Washington State is technically the host school, and because the Zags will have played fewer than three games in Spokane Arena, that means they are allowed to play at that site if they are a high enough seed. As Bud Withers pointed out in the Seattle Times, this kind of home-court advantage is not unprecedented, but it is unusual. That has to be a huge motivator for the Zags to really dominate the league to get a high seed.
• When I asked Rick Barnes on Saturday night if he was concerned about his team’s foul shooting, he told me he wasn’t because he can put his best foul shooters on the floor late in games. Funny, but I remember John Calipari telling me the same thing about Memphis two years ago.

While trying to find some stats for the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s game, I stumbled upon ESPN’s draft page for Matt Bouldin.  http://insider.espn.go.com/nbadraft/draft/tracker/player?draftyear=2009&playerId=19081

A couple of thing stood out in his negatives list:
• Could lose a little weight
• A little doughy in the middle

As a female, I can’t think of anything worse than having my negatives listed, especially when they’re so specific to my weight.  Also, he’s listed at 6’5”, 210lbs, so I’m not sure why they think he needs to lose weight.  I think the comments are based on last season but they still seem overly harsh.

Congratulations to Gonzaga for cracking the Top 10 in the ESPN/USA poll this week! http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/rankings

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