Washington beat Portland State without Jon Brockman.
You are going to have to bear with me on this one. The absolute insanity of last night's game did not really set in on me until the morning. I wasn't able to watch the game, which is probably a good thing being that it sounded like it was worse than the score indicated. After reading everydayezag's little rant (which I HIGHLY recommend) there are just a few little things I need to get off my chest about this program that has broken hearts since they made it big-time in 1999.
continue reading after the jump at your own risk!
I think the Washington sports curse is starting affect the Gonzaga Bulldogs. After playing one of the most exciting games against the University of Connecticut, Gonzaga just lost to Portland State...can cities have state schools? Someone needs to look into that, maybe we can get the game forfeited in our direction. Now, I realize that we are in December and Santa hasn't come yet but I see this loss having catastrophic effects on Gonzaga's tournament status. First off, Gonzaga has lost three games. As a team in a mid-major conference, three losses was their target loss number for this year if they wanted a #1 seed. We can kiss a 1 seed goodbye now that one of those losses comes to Portland State. Arizona is closer to getting a 1 seed than we are at this point with their quality wins and upcoming conference schedule. Three teams now have better positioning for the top spot than Gonzaga: Oklahoma, UCLA, and Arizona. I think that Arizona will drop out of contention and fall back to around a 5 or 6 seed during Pac-10 play but as of right now, they are better suited to take on top competition. The committee will have no issue with putting Oklahoma in the West region and UCLA tends to mature as the season progresses, as opposed to Gonzaga which seems to regress.
Ok, the tournament isn't until March so I guess I can quit complaining about how we just pissed away a sure fire Elite Eight bid. Oh wait, one more thing, if you aren't concerned about this team losing 2-3 more games this season then I would look through the GoZags archives and look at how this team has historically performed. I see potential for losses in five games, and I didn't even see the Portland State game as a potential loss so their are probably 2-3 more games we could lose. The five games that are most noticable are Utah, Tennessee, Memphis, @ Santa Clara, and @ St. Mary's. Gonzaga has the superior talent in all five of these match ups. What does a talent advantage mean when you are Coached by the Gonzaga coaching staff? Little to nothing. We should beat Utah but we travel there and Luke Nevill could put 40 points up. I can't envision the Zags coming away with a W in Tennessee after last night, I'm sure we can use the 'traveling' excuse if they lose. Memphis looks bad now but they will be ready when they visit Spokane and they have John Calipari who typically plays Gonzaga as his finger puppet when the two squads match up. Santa Clara has John Bryant so I won't count them out and they have really played good basketball against Gonzaga the past few years. St. Mary's has turned it on and look like a great WCC basketball team. I can't imagine us sweeping them.
So why in this crazy world of cities having state schools is this happening? It's hard to say that Gonzaga's fate was decided when the schedules were released but it really might be the case. Everyone loves to debate whether or not Gonzaga is mid-major, high-major, uber-major or non-major or whatever. But the funny thing is that our coaches don't even know what we are. If we are a high-major school, then there is no way we should be scheduling Connecticut, followed up by the Big Sky champion two days before Christmas, then traveling to Utah to face the Utes and then over to Tennessee. I mentioned in my game preview that this game freaked me out and it turned out to be the trap game I was indeed worried about. One of our live game thread comments said that we had no business playing this game right now and I have to agree. Mark Few, you can't expect a team with emotional teenagers to not be affected by that loss against Connecticut. If you do, than you have no clue about human behavior. These kids are 18-21 (I'm subtracting Ira's age because it hurts my argument) and were just exposed to a roller-coaster game in Seattle. Two of your most emotional players, Austin Daye and Micah Downs, fouled out of that game and had to watch at the end of the bench. Your 'glue-guy' and veteran guard Matt Bouldin may have had his worst game in a Gonzaga uniform before fouling out. The hangover was still noticable on Austin Daye and Micah Downs last night as they were sub-par. Matt seems to always play well at home and is able to have a short memory about things and he was outstanding last night. Now I realize that we can't change the schedule in the middle of the season but judging by some of the post-game quotes that Few threw out there, it seems as though he was surprised by Gonzaga's weak effort. It's YOUR responsibility to continue to push these guys and you failed. You failed before the game and you failed at halftime when the defecit was one point and Gonzaga came out like they were down 30.
All of the blame can not fall squarely on the shoulders of Mark Few and Jerry Krause, sadly. Gonzaga started out the season as rebounding machines. Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye were pulling down rebounds using their length and athleticism. Since the Arizona game, however, this team has been humiliated on the boards. I'm really starting to ponder making T-Shirts that say Gonzaga: The Smallest Big Team in the Country on them. It's a very true t-shirt, which is why it's funny. This team has no dedication to rebounding. I never, ever, ever thought I would say this but the graduation of David Pendergraft and Abdullahi Kuso has absolutely killed this team. Well, maybe not so much Pendo, but I would pay a lot of money for one more year of Kuso. The dude just sat under the basket and collected rebounds. All we have seen this season are the guys trying to block shots and sit out on the perimeter and shoot three point shots. Josh Heytvelt has been the most disappointing player to me. He has pretty stat lines and did pull down eight rebounds...but the leading rebounder on the season for Portland State was 6'7''. Come on! I'm four inches shorter than that! Josh has GOT to learn his role. I hope to God that Mark Few isn't actually telling him to shoot three shots from beyond the arc a game and pull down less than 10 rebounds. If this is the case then you can ship him off to Arizona with no remorse from me. The loss of Robert Sacre could be something which spells disaster for this team because no one else cares about rebounding. One other thing that I would like to talk about is Jeremy Pargo. I've seen a lot of criticism of Jeremy after some losses but I just see a kid playing the role the coaching staff wants him to. It appears that the staff has made an effort to utilize Jeremy as a pass-first guard. This is a Pargo that we are not used to seeing and he seems to have lost some of his killer instinct on the offensive end. Instead of backing down players in the post like we have seen in years past, he is driving and making difficult dishes that have, on numerous occasions, wound up as turnovers. It seems like we are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with him right now.
Well, we have some time to stew after this loss. The Zags don't play again until New Year's Even when they head down to Utah to battle Luke Nevill and the Utes. I'm sure we will go through the stages of depression and try and find something cheery about the way the season has turned on Gonzaga...after all it is the holidays. We're still 10000% behind this team. The season isn't over, but this loss is going to make the rest of the way a LOT more difficult.
I encourage the rest of you to drop some comments and get some stuff off your chest, you'll feel better about the loss after, trust me.
Hopefully no one makes the famous "Hitler YouTube video" after this loss.