Friday, March 11, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Conference: West Coast Conference

Record: 24-9, 11-3

Rankings: 32 (KenPom), 37 (Sagarin), 54 (RPI)

Potential Seed: 9/10, I've seen them listed as a No. 13-seed, a No. 10-seed is much more realistic.

Best Players: Steven Gray (13.8 ppg, 3.9 apg), Robert Sacre (12.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Elias Harris (12.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: The early part of their season, both non-conference and WCC play is where the Zags suffered their worst losses. The worst of the bunch was a 22-point defeat at the hands of Washington State after losing to Illinois 61-73 two days before. In WCC play, they had back-to-back losses against Santa Clara and San Francisco. The Zags don't have too many great wins, but they do hold victories over Marquette, Baylor, and Xavier, plus two against St. Mary's.

Tendencies: The Zags have had some identity issues all year. Their point guard play has been shaky at times. Steven Gray isn't a true point guard, and Demtri Goodson is not reliable at all. Luckily, David Stockton and Marquise Carter have been productive in the increased minutes they have gotten down the stretch. Also, the Zags front court is too reliant on Elias Harris and Robert Sacre, both of whom are not exactly playing up to pre-season expectations. That being said, this team relies heavily on it's defense this season, and they were able to control the tempo of the games late in the season because of their defensive pressure.

How They Got There: When you look back at their schedule, it doesn't really look that bad. They lost five of seven during non-conference play, but those losses were to teams like San Diego State, Kansas State and Notre Dame. The were able to go on a nine-game win streak that carried into WCC-play, before dropping three straight, two against sub-par teams San Francisco and Santa Clara. But following a mid-season, non-conference loss to Memphis, the Zags rallied off another nine-game win streak, and head into March Madness with momentum.

Outlook: This isn't your older brother's Gonzaga squad, but they certainly won't be shocking the world if they make it two or three games deep in March. Their coach is a guy who has seen it all, and they have a few players with NCAA tournament experience. Provided they get a descent first round match-up, most likely against a No. 7-seed, it very possible to see this team pick up a tournament win. More than one win could be a stretch, however.

No comments: