Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Q&A

Now that we have finally recovered from the events of Kraziness in the Kennel, TKR has decided to answer some major questions about Gonzaga's upcoming season. There is no doubt that the hype is there for Gonzaga; hopefully they can live up to it.

Please, feel free to leave comments and answer these questions if you disagree with one of us or just want to share your thoughts. We greatly appreciate it. Hope you enjoy!

Q: Who was the most impressive player last night at Kraziness in the Kennel?

ZagBell: Josh Heytvelt. His play was excellent and even though the shots did not always fall, he looked very confident in his post moves, especially the hook shot. The thing which made me most excited about Josh is the fire he was playing with. I think that he was the only player taking the scrimmage seriously every second. He was going nuts on the bench when Gray was knocking down threes and even had a couple hard fouls. He seems to be playing with a major chip on his shoulder which I absolutely love to see.

MaximumZag: I have to go with Josh Heytvelt. This is the healthiest and most focused I have ever seen Heytvelt. He has put on at least 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season, and you can see the confidence exuding from him whenever he touches the ball. If Josh can stay healthy, I think we will see one of the top big men in the country on a nightly basis.

Q: Gonzaga has a lot of players that are expected to have big seasons. What player are you looking for to have a breakout year?

ZagBell: It could come from a number of players. My expectations could not be any higher though for Steven Gray. I think he’s going to absolutely explode this season. He showed what he is capable of last season especially against Davidson. I would not be surprised if he leads the team in scoring.

MaximumZag: Micah Downs. I had the opportunity to see Micah play on numerous occasions this summer, and it is clear that he is loaded with self-confidence. Micah has always had the beautiful shot, but I think we will see a lot more of him attacking the rim this season. His athleticism and length makes Micah nearly impossible to guard, and I think this is the season he puts it all together and emerges as one of the best players on the team.

Q: Should Gonzaga red shirt anyone, if so, who?

ZagBell: Andy Poling more than likely will be red shirted. I’ll be interested to see if Sacre is red shirted. I really think that he should sit out this season because of the time of recovery and what happened with Josh and his foot problems. I don’t see many positives from Rob playing because he will likely hurt the foot again if he forces himself to go too soon.

MaximumZag: Although Poling impressed me last night, I would still suggest that he is red shirted this season. The talent that he has is very evident to anyone that watches, but I don’t feel that he can contribute this season because of his lack of strength. Poling needs a year to put on weight, and really work on his game before he can be counted on for 10-15 minutes per game. But as I mentioned in the beginning, Poling has a great sense of position for rebounding, and has a good looking jumper with range out to the 3 point line.

Q: When the year is over, what will Josh Heytvelt’s stat line be?

ZagBell: See Josh Heytvelt’s 2006-07 season. 16 points and 8 boards a game. He was absolutely phenomenal in his sophomore season and I really think he will return to that form this year.

MaximumZag: 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. I believe that Josh could have even better stats then this, but because of the numerous offensive weapons, I don’t think any player will get to that 20 point per game level. But Josh now has the strength to dominate on the boards, and has the athleticism and skill set to score on any defender in the country. If you can’t tell, I am incredibly excited to watch Josh play this season.

Q: What lineup combination are you most excited to see?

ZagBell: I’m a sucker for speed and freak athletic ability. Pargo, Meech, Downs, Daye, and Heytvelt would just be mind blowing. That lineup has everything you need for success. They are probably the five most athletic players on the team and I would challenge any other team in the nation to put together a more athletically gifted lineup.

MaximumZag: Pargo, Gray, Downs, Daye, Heytvelt. This might be the most offensively skilled lineup that any team in the country can put on the floor. You have Pargo, who can get to the rim against defender in the country, and finishes at the hoop very well. Gray is a lights out shooter, but he has also added the ability to attack the rim to his offensive arsenal. Downs is another threat from behind the arc, but he can also hit the mid-range shot, and is a huge weapon for the Zags on the fast break. Daye is one of most offensively skilled players in the country, and can score from anywhere on the court. His great vision with the basketball would create numerous opportunities for Gray, Downs, and Heytvelt with this lineup. Heytvelt has the talent to be one of the top big men in the country, and this lineup would provide him with a group of players who can get him the ball in a good position to score.

Q: What has to happen for Gonzaga to be in the Final Four?

ZagBell: We’ve got to show that we can win a “Big-10” type of game. When a team slows the game down, we have to be able to combat that and play good half court offense. Mark Few has built a run and gun team but there will be games when the pace is not in our favor (see the Wazzu game last year). We have to show that we can win a game 60-57. Otherwise the season will be a disappointment.

MaximumZag: Obviously avoiding injuries is important for any team, but I think that establishing an 8-9 man rotation and sticking with it is the most important aspect to the Zags success this season. Last year, there was no consistency to the rotation, and many times some of our most talented players would only play 5-10 minutes per game. Establish a rotation of Pargo, Gray, Bouldin, Daye, Heytvelt, Downs, Goodson, Brown, and then Sacre if he comes back. That rotation has enough talent and leadership for GU to compete for a Final 4 spot.

Q: Will Bol Kong ever wear a Gonzaga uniform?

ZagBell: In a perfect world yes. I feel terribly for the kid but I just don’t see it happening. I’m sure the staff is working their tails off to get him here and I pray for it every day but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

MaximumZag: I can’t explain why I think this, but for some reason I fell like we will see Bol Kong at GU next season. Gonzaga has put much time and money into the situation, and obviously Kong believes there is hope as he is training in Vancouver. From what I have been told, Kong it worth every ounce of effort the staff is putting in, and hopefully he will get a chance to live his dream.

Q: What will be the defining game of the season?

ZagBell: Gonzaga has a chance to make waves in the NCAA early on this season. I think the potential match up with Michigan State will be the biggest game for the Zags. I went back and forth with this game and UConn but like I said before, I need some proof this team can beat the best of the Big-10. Michigan State is one of the toughest teams in the nation and the Zags have historically been one of the “softer” teams. When Michigan State hits Gonzaga, Mark Few’s squad has to hit back.

MaximumZag: Gonzaga @ Tennessee. The Vols are the type of athletic and fast team that the Zags have struggled with the past couple of years. This will be an excellent chance to see if this team can handle 40 minutes of pressure and use their superior height to dominate a quick and fast team. This game will provide excellent preparation for the Memphis game, and if the Zags can win both, then they will be well on their way to securing a top 2 seed in the west bracket

Q: And finally, for all the marbles, how does the season end for Gonzaga?

ZagBell: I need a 30 win season. The season games that scare me the most are Michigan State, UConn, and at St. Mary’s. UConn has a ton of talent but the fact that the game will be played in a Zag-dominated atmosphere is huge. I don’t think Gonzaga will be perfect in the conference, it’s just too demanding to expect them to win every conference game. The ceiling for this team is a national championship but I truly believe that Gonzaga will be a Final Four team this year if everything goes right and we avoid further injuries.

MaximumZag: With a spot in the Final 4. This team is as deep, talented, and athletic as any team in the country. With a healthy Heytvelt dominating the paint, and one of the top PG’s in the country in Jeremy Pargo, this team is built for a historical season. As long as they don’t look past their opponents during the first week of the NCAA Tournament, then the sky is the limit. I have no idea what other teams will be at the Final 4, but I believe that no matter who else is there, GU has the talent, coaching, and leadership to win a national championship.

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