Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Ready for Zags and Pokes

When: November 27, 2008 @ 6 PM PST
Where: The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Orlando, FL

Zags this season: Gonzaga heads into this game with a 2-0 record. The team opened the season with a decisive 83-52 victory over Montana State-Billings. Terrific performances from Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye, who scored 15 points each, allowed GU to coast against a clearly inferior team. The game against Idaho was more of the same story, as Gonzaga jumped out to a 47-11 halftime lead. While Micah Downs put together a complete performance on the offensive end, it was the defense played by Gonzaga that was most impressive. Idaho shot 14-47 from the field in the 80-46 loss. However, is it clear that neither of these opponents are anywhere near the level of the upcoming Old Spice Classic field.

Oklahoma St. this season: Although he has only been in charge for 4 games, Travis Ford has put his stamp on the Oklahoma St. Cowboys. The Pokes have jumped out to a 4-0 start, and are averaging 89.5 points per game. It has become clear that the Cowboys will live and die by the 3 this season. In just 4 games, they have shot 97 three pointers, and have made an impressive 38. Much like Gonzaga, the Pokes OSU has gone up against some inferior competition to begin the season. Their 4 victories have come against the University of Texas-San Antonio, North Texas, Tulsa and Grambling. Oklahoma St. has used these games to get accustomed to Ford's system, but it should be interesting to see how their run n' gun system fares against some of the best teams in the country.

Who We are Watching for: James Anderson leads the Cowboys on the offensive end, and is emerging as one of the top scorers in the Big 12. The former McDonald's All-American is thriving under the new system of Travis Ford. This season he is averaging 19.5 points and 7.3 rebounds, and has a career high 28 points against North Texas. Byron Eaton returns for his senior season as the starting point guard. Like Anderson, Eaton was a McDonald's All-American, but he has not lived up to the considerable hype he received coming out of high school. He has had a strong start to his final season, and is averaging 17.5 points and 5.0 assists.

Looking at the match ups: When you look at this game, there are two fantastic individual match ups to keep your eyes on. The first is at the PG position, where it will be great to watch Jeremy Pargo vs. Byron Eaton. Both have played significant minutes since they were freshmen, and both are the clear leaders for their respective team. They have striking similar builds, as both are strong and stocky guards who finish well at the hoop. In my opinion, Pargo is the more complete point guard, but if Eaton can stay out of foul trouble, he has the potential to be very active. The second fantastic individual match up is Micah Downs vs. James Anderson (left). Both have great length and athleticism, while possessing terrific shooting range. Anderson has the been the best player for Oklahoma St. this season, and it appears that Micah Downs has reached the fantastic potential he has. It should be a pleasure to watch these two compete on both ends of the floor.

The final prediction: While Oklahoma St. has had a terrific start this season, I think they are a couple of seasons away from national prominence. The Pokes can rely on the three when they are playing the worst teams Texas has to offer, but not against this Old Spice Classic field. The depth and talent that the Zags possess will lead them to a 79-65 win.

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