Saturday, December 6, 2008

Welcome Back to Reality: Zags Struggle in Victory over Hoosiers

The scheduling of Indiana before games with Washington State and Arizona may have been a blessing in disguise for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In case the Big 10 Network announcers didn't make it clear enough throughout the game, Indiana is young, inexperienced, and just not that talented. In all honesty, it looked like the Zags completely overlooked this team and Indiana punched them in the mouth. Luckily for Gonzaga, their depth was just way too much for Indiana and they were able to escape Indianapolis with a misleading 16 points victory. There aren't many times when depth alone wins games but today it did because the team that wanted it more was not wearing blue. It is a win though and their were some good individual performances but you have to think that Washington State is licking their chops because if Gonzaga plays the way they did today against the Cougs...they won't be able to escape with a W.

Here are a couple negatives we saw from the game...

Gonzaga: The smallest big team in the nation
. As we have mentioned in previous posts, Gonzaga seems to be struggling with an identity. They seem to be forgetting that they are the team with size. You'd never guess that we are loaded with guys that are 6'10'' or above based on the amount of shots we are taking from the outside. Austin Daye, Micah Downs, and Matt Bouldin are all decent outside shooters but the strength of their basketball abilities are in other areas. Austin took six three point attempts this afternoon and did not make a single one. He has such a rare ability to get to the basket and make shots with his length but he just does not seem to want to dominate in the post. It had to be one of Austin's worst games in a Gonzaga uniform. His stat line is absolutely befuddling. The worst stat for him today was his rebounding. I thought he would be a double double machine this year but he only had one rebound in the game. I don't mean to pick on Austin and I'm sure no one is more upset than him today. I'm sure we have not seen him at his best yet and I do think that he is taking some time getting back into the flow of the game. Injuries like the one he suffered this summer have as much mental effect as they do physical.

Are bad habits becoming trends?
My biggest worry for this team is in the rebounding category and this all ties in with the fact that we don't want to play tough sometimes. In today's game, Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray out rebounded Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye, 9-7. If this continues, Gonzaga will continue to sputter because guards getting rebounds slows the pace down and against a Big 10 team or Washington State, you have to push the pace and get them out of their comfort zone. The Zags got punished on the boards against Tennessee as well and it will be interesting to see if this poor rebounding continues. The most uncharacteristic trend for this team is their free throw shooting. I keep waiting for them to turn it on but it seems to be getting worse. The Bulldogs shot 59% from the line today and some of the misses have been head scratching. I hold out confidence that they can turn it around before it starts becoming a major problem but we're six games into the season and there has been no improvement.

Here's a visually amusing look at the stat sheet for the Gonzaga Bulldogs....

It wasn't all negative for Gonzaga today, they had to do something right to win the game...

Jeremy Pargo continues to play beautiful basketball. He shot 5-8 from the field today and didn't force anything. He made some beautiful assists and was two away from notching a double double. He finished with 13 points and 8 assists and is really embracing his role as distributor for this team. It was a perfect game for him because their were points in the game where he had to take over and drive to the hoop and he did. I'm really confident that with him at the point, this team will never be out of control because he can always take over at any point because of his strength and quickness. If there are any doubters about Jeremy Pargo and what he means to this team, this game should really make it clear that without him, this team would fall apart.

Josh Heytvelt is becoming borderline unstoppable.
The big man from Clarkston, Washington finished with 17 points on 6-12 shooting and 6 rebounds. It feels like he is right on the brink of becoming one of the best centers in the nation. His versatility presents so many match up problems for opposing teams. He seems to be getting very comfortable away from the basket and his mid-range jumper is becoming a thing of beauty. He does everything so effortlessly and his on court demeanor has to make any Gonzaga fan smile. He has the look of a guy that wants to put everyone on his back and carry a team to a title.

Some other game notes...

--Mark Few had a quick trigger with Steven Gray today. Gray struggled once again from three-point land, shooting 1-4. He only played 14 minutes in the game as the majority of his minutes went to freshman Demetri Goodson who has just been superb.

--The mob squad (still waiting for a better nickname) of Goodson, Rob Sacre, and Ira Brown had a nice collective game today. Sacre was ridiculously efficient in his 11 minutes. The sophomore center had 6 points and 6 boards today and seems to be close to 100% after his injury.

--Matt Bouldin and Micah Downs had great games defensively today. Downs only finished with 5 points but had a couple of assists and really did an outstanding job using his length to frustrate the Hoosiers. Bouldin had four steals before you could even blink and has really improved his defensive play this season. Matt had a quiet 13 points and continues his solid play.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DUKE LOST!!! Maybe the Zags will move up to #4 in the nation?! ...Cant wait for Monday's rankings to come out!