The countdown is almost over for Gonzaga fans, as the team will being the regular season in only 8 days. Earlier today, the Zags flew out to Colorado, where they will be scrimmaging against the Texas Longhorns all day tomorrow. With excitement building towards the start of what should be a historical season for the team, here are some updates from around the Internet, as well as updates on some of the top recruits and commits for the Bulldogs.
- ESPN The Magazine came out with their top 25, and they have Gonzaga ranked #7. If you get a chance, I recommend that you check out their preview, as they offer some interesting stats on all the top teams. According to the article, one of the key points of emphasis for the team is to improve on their 5.2 rebounding margin from last season. With the size and athleticism that this team possesses, there is no excuse for the Zags not to dominate the glass against every opponent.
One aspect of the preview that surprised me a little was having Santa Clara in "The Obstacles" section. While Santa Clara should be slightly improved from last season, the WCC has a "Big 3" of Gonzaga, St.Mary's, and San Diego that will battle for the conference championship. The rest of the conference is not in the same league as these three teams. It seems that many national publications are reluctant to jump on the USD bandwagon, despite their tremendous performance at the end of last season. I view USD as the biggest challenger to the WCC throne, and I believe that they have the experience to make a Sweet 16 run.
- At CNNSI, Ian Thomsen discussed 5 NBA draft prospects to watch this season, and Austin Daye was #1 on the list. Thomsen interviewed an NBA scout, who gave his thoughts on his top 5 potential lottery picks. The one caveat was that they had to be American. Also on his list were Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), Brandon Jennings (Lottomatica Roma), Demar DeRozan (USC), and B.J. Mullens (Ohio St.).
Here are some quotes from the scout regarding Austin:
"To me, he's a lottery pick without question. He shoots threes [41.3 percent last season], he shoots free throws [88.1 percent]. If you're asking me how he compares to a guy like Jonathan Bender, I'd say that Bender was way more athletic. I really liked Bender, but this kid doesn't jump like he did. This kid has better ball skills, however. Bender was a 4 morphing into a 3, but Daye is a 3 right now."
""I see something of Danny Manning in him. I never thought of Manning as a super-quick high flyer, and this kid isn't either. But Daye is very cerebral, he cuts without the ball, he's long, he makes shots and he has all of that skill. Plus, he plays on a Gonzaga team that is loaded with multiple players, so people will be seeing a lot of him this year."
This really demonstrates just how highly regarded Austin is by the NBA scout. It's so rare to find a player with his length and skill set. The comparison to Danny Manning should have Gonzaga fans celebrating, as it was Danny Manning who single-handily carried Kansas to the national championship in 1988. I like this comparison, because Austin is capable of taking over a close game and being the difference maker. The beauty of this team is that Pargo and Heytvelt are also capable of doing this on any given night.
- I found a very interesting tidbit in Andy Katz's blog today regarding a potential "WCC vs. WAC championship" starting in 2009.
"• The WAC has had talks with the Missouri Valley Conference about a challenge prior to the Mountain West stepping in and setting one up with the Valley. So now the WAC is looking toward the WCC to do some sort of scheduling series in 2009-10 and beyond. One proposal would have the top four teams in each conference playing each other. Gonzaga would have to go along with the idea, but the Zags should do it. Gonzaga has plenty of high-profile games/series every season but also plays regional games, so there is no reason why the Bulldogs couldn't have a game with Nevada in a given year. The WAC already plays plenty of WCC teams, but a formal agreement would help both leagues."
As Katz mentions, this series would be great for the WCC and for Gonzaga. Many fans would love to see Gonzaga and Nevada play every year, and this series would allow for both school to host these games in their home gym. This would also benefit teams like USD and St. Mary's who could play quality opponents like Boise St, Utah St, and New Mexico St. My first preference would have been to do something with the Mountain West, but this would present a great opportunity for both conferences.
- TKR also wanted to share some exciting news regarding an opportunity for us. TKR will be writing the Gonzaga season preview for AOL Fanhouse. This is a terrific opportunity to write for such a popular website, and we hope everyone can check out the GU season preview when it goes up.
Finally, with the high school and JC basketball season about to start, here are the schedules and some results for all GU commits and recruits.
- The NEDA boys have kicked off their season, and so far it has been the Mangisto Arop and Kelly Olynyk show. In early November, NEDA took on the Windsor University Lancers, and Manny set a NEDA record with 42 points in the game. Kelly Olynyk chipped in a measly 28 points. It looks like Manny is taking his game to an even higher level, and it should be fun to follow him this season.
- The College of Southern Idaho began their season last night, as they are hosting the K&T Steel Tournament. CSI coasted to a victory over Central Arizona, and Daequon Montreal had a strong performance. In only 20 minutes, Montreal scored 12 points and grabbed 13 boards in the easy victory.
-North Idaho College began their season in late October, and are undefeated at this point. While it is difficult to find exact stats from the first three games, 2010 recruit Guy-Marc Michel had an impressive 19 point and 9 rebound debut. Michel is a highly skilled post player, who I expect to sign with Gonzaga next year.
- Click on the recruits name for their respective high school season schedule.
TKR will follow all GU recruits throughout their respective season, and it should be fun to see what other recruits emerge throughout the year.