ESPN the Magazine was gracious enough to spend some time with TKR and answer a few of our questions. If you missed our first interview with Chris Sprow, an editor and report for ESPN click here or scroll down. We are very excited for our second interview with ESPN the Magazine. Sarah Turcotte, the college hoops editor for ESPN the Mag was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Hope you all enjoy...
The Kennel Report: Being nestled up here in the Pacific Northwest, we get a one-sided view on Gonzaga. How is Gonzaga viewed on the East coast and across the country? Do you think people see them as a Cinderella, prima donna, etc?
Sarah Turcotte: No way they get to be Cinderella anymore. We’ve even kicked them out of Giant Killer contention. They have a legit team, play a legit schedule and have a legit coach. No one’s going to be surprised by the Zags in March. Ever. Again. The trick now is that Gonzaga is a target. It’s fun to see teams like St. Mary’s and San Diego get fired up about an upset. Because of Gonzaga, we have to pay attention to the WCC every season.
TKR: What is the ceiling for Gonzaga this year, can a national championship come to Spokane?
ST: Never say never, but I’m not sure this is the year. Getting past Carolina and UCONN is going to be tough for any team. I do, however, think Gonzaga has a great shot at making it to Detroit.
TKR: Gonzaga returns one of the best point guards in the nation in Jeremy Pargo. Is he a top 10 point guard in the nation, where do you think he ranks?
ST: I’m a big fan of Pargo’s. I’d probably put him top five on my list. For me, he’s up there with Lawson, Evans and Holiday. It’s always fun to watch a point guard capable of scoring the way he can (though I’m sure coach would rather him be dishing a bit more).
TKR: How does the media world view Josh Heytvelt after his arrest a few years ago. Do you think he can return to form for Gonzaga this year?
ST: Honestly, we think it’s funny. While there’s no excuse for a student athlete to make those kind of mistakes, we got plenty of laughs over the circumstances of his arrest. Because of that, he’ll always be a punchline unless he really gets back to that I-own-Tyler-Hansbrough form of two years ago. I’m hearing he’s healthy and in shape, so hopefully he’ll redeem himself.
TKR: Let's say Gonzaga was in the Pac-10 this year. Do they win it? Why or why not?
ST: I like this question. And the Pac-10 is really thin this year compared to where they have been recently. I saw UCLA play an abysmal game against Michigan the other night and I’m not sure USC will be nearly as good as people think, even though Derozan is solid. I’ll say yes. I’d take that bet.
TKR: What has to happen for Gonzaga to reach its potential and what could hold them back?
ST: The front line has to be very good. Heytvelt and Daye have to carry a pretty heavy load. Most of the top teams are much, much deeper in the post.
TKR: Do you think Austin Daye should enter the draft after this season and is he a sure fire lottery pick?
ST: Yes, it’s not a particularly strong year. He should go. And I think he’d have to be pretty disappointing this season to drop out of the lottery. Most scouts have him in the 6-8 range.
TKR: Every year Gonzaga fans are forced to deal with rumors of Mark Few being the lead candidate for every job opening. Do you foresee any job or opening that would cause Mark Few to leave Spokane, or will he be in Spokane for his entire coaching career?
ST: Remember when Roy Williams was going to stay at Kansas? There’s always a better, more attractive job out there. Few’s in a great spot, but we actually had a note about this in a recent issue (if it didn’t get cut), folks don’t think he’d leave the Pacific Northwest, but Oregon could be a real possibility, should the job open up.
TKR: Many casual basketball fans view the WCC as Gonzaga and a bunch of no name schools. How do you view the WCC, and do you feel it is realistic for the conference to get 3 NCAA Tournament bids again?
ST: See above. We dig the WCC. It’s certainly realistic for three bids to come from the WCC, but this year might be tricky, especially if the Big East gets like 90 bids like everyone is predicting.
TKR: With the upcoming Old Spice Classic, Gonzaga will be participating in arguably the top pre-season tournament this season. What is your take on the Old Spice field, and where would you rank Gonzaga against the rest of the field?
ST: Michigan State? Georgetown? It’s a crazy-good field. I’d rank Gonzaga third behind MSU and Gtown. MSU is one of the best-coached teams in the country, and Monroe could give Heytvelt and Daye fits.