If there is one thing that America doesn't like, it is when Gonzaga is highly ranked. It seems like everyone would rather talk about the Zags when they are off the radar and up and coming. It's a niche of sorts, I guess. Here we are today with a couple stories from around the net that really do confirm this fact...
The 23rd ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are 12-4 on the season. Although there are many teams across the country with better records, few of those teams are actually better than the Zags. Losses to Utah and Portland State leave me scratching my head, but this team has beaten a talented Tennessee team twice away from home, took Connecticut to overtime before losing, and crushed Oklahoma State and Maryland by double digits.
A writer from The Bleacher Report expresses some similar thoughts about the Zags in this piece...
So what does this mean for the Zags? Have they stated to the nation that they have no chance of getting past the first or second round in the NCAA tournament? Is this the end for the team that had many thinking they were destined for greatness this year?
Many say no, many say yes.
The Zags have since rebounded and posted impressive wins in the past four games. They defeated Tennessee at home, snapping the Vols' 37-game home win streak. They crushed their first three conference opponents by an average of 31 points. These wins place the Zags at number 23 in the AP poll this week.
continue reading more after the jump...
This is the way the West Coast Conference schedule always works for the Zags. The respect level across the country for the WCC is pretty low, and I can't really argue but St. Mary's and San Diego will test Gonzaga for sure, especially on the road. Just like all the hype before the season, expect there to be plenty of hype if Gonzaga keeps winning and can knock off SMC on the road and beat Memphis at the Spokane arena. Their is no question that this team can run the table in the WCC and if that happens, there will be plenty of hype heading into March.
The major caveat is that if they lose a game in the conference, the nation will probably not handle that very well. Even St. Mary's is still a very unknown team thanks in large part to their inability to do anything in major tournaments. They were ushered out of the WCC tourney by San Diego and lost a game to Miami in the NCAA tournament that about 1000 people watched. It didn't help that their loss to UTEP was around Thanksgiving when most Americans were sitting on the couch watching ESPN.
In other news...
Congrats to Austin Daye who was named the West Coast Conference's player of the week for his efforts against Santa Clara and USF..
Gonzaga sophomore Austin Daye was spectacular in the Zags' wins over Santa Clara and San Francisco. Daye started the week with 20 points, on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, and seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of action in the Bulldogs' win over Santa Clara. The Irvine, CA native followed that up with a career-high 25 points, on 10-of-14 shooting, and nine rebounds in the Zags' win against San Francisco on Saturday. For the week, Daye averaged 22.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 2.0 bpg, while shooting a blistering 75 percent from the field (18-for-24)
The Bleacher Report loves Gonzaga. They've got a little piece about what to expect from Gonzaga through the rest of the WCC schedule...
First, expect to see continued great defense.
The key to this year’s success lies on the defensive end. The Zags are 11th in the nation for defensive field goal percentage.
Second, expect more great games from a variety of players.
While Daye proved dominant in the last two games, there are many players who can lead the team in scoring. This will continue to prove problematic for opponents. You can’t just shut down one Zag from scoring and expect to win.
It may not be as much about the great defense of the Zags against the WCC as much as it is the poor offensive abilities of the WCC. Gonzaga has been outstanding in their defensive FG% and that will assuredly continue as they take on Pepperdine and LMU this week.
As far as the variety of players that can score a ton at any given time, I think that there are about four players now that I expect to score alot and that is Daye, Gray, Bouldin, and Heytvelt. It seems like Pargo and Micah Downs have accepted roles that do not allow them to score the basketball a ton. The other four have the capability to put up 20+ points any given night in WCC play. You may see some 15-20 point games from Pargo but I would be surprised if this happened on a regular basis.
Speaking of Jeremy Pargo...here is article regarding Jeremy's draft prospects...
So is Pargo worth a second round, or even first-round pick? A first-round pick, with the guaranteed contract that comes with it, might be a bit of a risk for a NBA team, but a team selecting in the second round would be wise to snatch him up. He may need some time in the D-League to work on his game, but if he can put all the pieces together he could be a very good NBA player.
I'd agree with the author in saying that a second round pick sounds more realistic. Jeremy will need more time developing as a pure point guard if he is going to make it in the NBA. He's got the talent and the measurables for the league but I'm not sure if he is consistent enough right now. He has some outstanding games as a playmaker but then he also has some games that are head-scratchers. I do feel like Jeremy has an NBA future if he commits himself to it because he will have to work his butt off.