Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008-09 Opponent Breakdown: Texas Southern University

After playing a who's who of college basketball programs including Arizona, Indiana, Washington State, Oklahoma State, and possibly Michigan State and Georgetown, the Zags will return home to the friendly confines of McCarthey Athletic Center to take on the Texas Southern Tigers. Texas Southern competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Much like Gonzaga, TSU will be testing themselves with a very difficult non-conference schedule. It addition to the Zags, the Tigers will be taking on Cincinnati, Marquette, Arkansas, Washington, and Texas. Each one of those games will be away from their home court in Houston. This will be the first year for head coach Tony Harvey who has traveled a rocky road to Texas Southern.

Last Season's Results: The Tigers are looking to forget about last season as quickly as possible. Texas Southern went 7-25 last season including a 6-13 record within the SWAC. They finished in the cellar of their conference which was won by Alabama State. It was an extremely tumultuous season for TSU. Coach Ronnie Courtney was fired during the season and legendary coach Robert Moreland came out of retirement to coach the Tigers on an interim basis. With Tony Harvey permanently in place, the wheels should be in motion for Texas Southern as this once very proud program has recently fallen on hard times.

New Faces: The hiring of Tony Harvey is huge for the program. There is no doubt that he had his share of issues at Missouri. The NCAA's accusations against Harvey were serious and forced him to resign. After a couple of years away from the game, he seems to be ready to come back and bring Texas Southern back to prominence. With Harvey comes five new faces to the Tigers' squad. Brion Stafford and Ricky Boyles headline the newcomers for TSU. Stafford, just like his new head coach, has had an interesting path to Texas Southern. He was heavily recruited out of high school but instead enrolled in prep school. He now finds himself in the SWAC with TSU and should be ready to contribute immediately. Ricky Boyles is a 6'7'' junior college transfer from Los Angeles, California. Boyles averaged nearly a double-double last season in junior college with 10 points and nine rebounds a game. Hamid Ford, TeAllen Price, and Deante Jones round out the class for Texas Southern. Hamid Ford definitely sports one of the best Afro haircuts to ever grace Spokane. Another new face is Timothy Price, a 6'10'' transfer from Centenary College.

Players to Watch: Three players scored double figures last season for the Tigers of Texas Southern. The good news for the program is that two of these players return. Sollie Norwood and Matthew Miller will be the leaders of this team once the season rolls around and they both can fill it up. Norwood, a 6'2'' senior guard averaged nearly 15 points a game last season. Norwood is definitely a shooter. He shot the ball the most for Texas Southern last season, taking about 80 more shots than the next leading shooter. He also only had 34 assists in 32 games. Matthew Miller is a 6'3'' senior guard from Arlington, Texas who averaged 10 points per game for the Tigers last season. Miller was also the second leading assist man for Texas Southern. The floor general for TSU seems to be David Burrell. Burrell is also a senior guard for the Tigers and was their leading assist man. He also poured in nearly nine points a game. Texas Southern will be very limited up front and will have to rely on these three guards to carry them this season.

TKR's Concern-O-Meter: Much like the games against Montana State-Billings and Idaho, this is a warm up game for the Zags. After this game, Gonzaga will be taking on Connecticut, Portland State, Utah, and Tennessee. This game will be a nice, relaxing game for Mark Few's squad to get ready for the difficult schedule ahead. While I think that Tony Harvey will have a positive impact on this team, I don't think that impact will affect the Bulldogs. For this reason, the concern level for this game is extremely low. Gonzaga will just have too much talent and too much depth for the Tigers. TSU's biggest strength, guard play, will be neutralized by the Zag's fab five guards (Pargo, Bouldin, Gray, Meech, Gibbs).

What We are Watching for: I'm pretty excited to see Tony Harvey back in action. At one point in time, Harvey was one of the fastest rising names in college coaching. Missouri was winning tons of games and Quinn Snyder seemed to be an outstanding coach. That all blew up in their faces with the NCAA's allegations but I still think Harvey can be a hell of a coach if he keeps his hands clean. I'm also excited to see the guard match ups. I would expect to see TSU run plenty of three guard lineups with their trio of excellent guards. Another player to watch in this game is Brion Stafford. He has tons of talent and upside and couples that with a very athletic frame and high basketball IQ.

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