November 18, 2008
6 P.M. @ the McCarthey Athletic Center
Radio: KGA 1510
Taking a look back at the history of the the series between Idaho and Gonzaga, you may be a little stunned to find that the Vandals lead the series 67-63. If the current trend continues however, the series will soon be in Gonzaga's favor. The Bulldogs have won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the border rivals.
This season appears to be no different for the Zags and the Vandals. Idaho has been ranked by the coaches at the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) this season and, although I believe their new coach has them in the right direction, they should be no trouble for Gonzaga. Taking a look at the team that Mark Few has assembled, it is clear to see that this is a game that should be relatively similar to Saturday's game against Montana State-Billings. Last game against the Yellowjackets saw a number of the major questions for the Zags get answered positively. Does Josh Heytvelt have the swagger back? It looks like it. Is Austin Daye's knee going to have lingering affects? Don't bet on it. Gonzaga was victimized by the hot hand of former Idaho Vandal Michael Hall but aside from that, the Bulldogs looked smooth and succinct. Josh Heytvelt should be tested little throughout this game as Idaho is pretty thin in the post. Luciano De Souza has been playing well but the 6'7'' forward will probably not face up against Josh. That job will likely to go to junior college transfer Marvin Jefferson and Brazilian forward Luis Augusto. Jefferson was recruited well out of the junior college ranks but should not deter Josh much and Augusto has been ineffective to start the year. It could be a 20+ point, 10+ rebound performance for Josh tomorrow if he is on the court long enough.
Changing our focus over to the Vandals, they appear to have a pretty solid stable of guards. Led by Mac Hopson and Kashif Watson who have averaged 16 and 13 points a game respectively, the Vandals start three guards. Leading returning scorer Trevor Morris joins Watson and Hopson in the back court. Hopson is a solid point guard for the Vandals and has 9 assists in the past two games. The Zags should be able to capitalize on Idaho's knack for committing turnovers. Watson and Morris have combined this season for 1 assist and 11 turnovers. Jeremy Pargo and Matt Bouldin and the rest of the Gonzaga guards should have the advantage against these guards. Much like Michael Hall, these guards can get hot and shoot well from outside, hopefully this game never gets as close at the one with Montana State-Billings. If you have to watch one guy from the outside it has to be Trevor Morris who has taken the most 3-pointers on the team. I like the way Luciano De Souza plays the game. He is a big forward from Brazil who has the ability to step out and shoot the outside shot. He is 6-10 from three point range and should be floating around the perimeter quite a bit tomorrow.
So far this season the Vandals have taken on two opponents on very opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. The first game for Idaho was a laugher in their favor as they took on Evergreen State out of the NAIA ranks. They defeated the Geoducks (Yes that is their mascot) 91-69. The next game was not so good for the Vandals. They took on one of the best teams in the nation in the Spartans of Michigan State. They were routed by Tom Izzo's squad 100-62.
Looking at the match up and you have to like the home team. In a bit of fun news, the Idaho Vandals are looking to go 2-1 for the first time since 2002-03. Sadly, I don't think this is going to happen this year. Gonzaga is just too strong all around for our friends to the East. Look for Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye to lead this team in scoring and rebounding again. They should really enjoy this match up.
Another thing to look for is the continuing development of the rotation. This is our last chance to tweak the lineup before we head to Orlando to compete in the Old Spice Classic. What you see in the first half tomorrow is probably what you get.
For a prediction on this one...I'm hoping that this game is more of a blowout than the game against MSU-B. My wish may not come true but I think we can hang a similar number to the one Michigan State put on the Vandals. I haven't seen many 100 point games in the Mark Few era so I'll err on the safe side and say 98-60 Gonzaga
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