ZB Note--Bumped from FanPosts. Great post!
Instead of doing actual work or waiting for another person to do a write up, I wanted to get the ball rolling on the next match-up.
The Zags' greatest strength for this game is their size. They have an absolute size advantage particularly with Davies sitting. BYU's tallest starting player is 6-8, and no one in their regular rotation over 6-10. Their tallest guy at 6-10 injured his shoulder at UNLV, so his minutes may be limited. With several Zags over 6-8 and a good deal heavier, it should translate to dominating the glass and physically imposing their will on the smaller BYU line up. I am expecting Dower and KO to be the regular subs early on in this game. The Zag players obviously need to play smart and avoid foul trouble to play this advantage. more after the jump...
BYU may try to lessen the Zags' height advantage by playing a zone defense, which according to ESPN they will likely try. For the Zags big men, they will have to watch the double teams and look to pass out or to get fouled. Getting a BYU starter in foul trouble will be a big bonus to the Zags as the BYU bench is not deep. Establishing the post game on both sides of the ball should be priority number one in the opening minutes. This will allow the Zags open shots outside while BYU is forced to hustle on offense for jump shots. BYU can stick in the game with jump shots as they are not a bad shooting team (.452), but BYU could win the game if not kept off the foul line as they shoot an impressive (.759) or worse let them shoot open threes. The Zags are particularly vulnerable from beyond the arc as opponents shoot (.359) and should be particularly sensitive to this as BYU has options for the long ball. While the Zags have a deeper bench, it would be wise to watch out for BYU trying to get key players into trouble. BYU has the proven ability to do this as they get to the foul line at one of the highest rates in the NCAA (Sorry, could not find average attempts per game). The Zags should start with man coverage to help watch the jump shoot and the very dangerous three ball. BYU will score from the floor and beyond the arc, but the key here is to make it a lot of work.
One cannot talk about BYU and not talk about their star player Jimmer. Sure he is an offensive threat. Whoever is assigned to guard him cannot have their hand down no matter how far out they are from the basket. Jimmer can also finish around the basket, which makes him even more of a threat. He does have weaknesses. One of those is he is slow. This means a quick guy should have no problem on offense. Granted the Zags do not have an elite guard that has superior quickness, Grey or Carter should look to drive on him and wear him down on defense. As to who should be guarding Jimmer, I expect a rotation. It may start with Meech, then move to Carter or Grey. The thing is the Zags have a size advantage and should use it. Jimmer has seen this all year, but still wearing him out for the end of the game will make it harder for BYU to win.
I mentioned earlier that the Zags have a deeper bench. This is their second advantage over BYU. There are multiple guys that can score and rebound on the Zags team, which should frustrate and tire BYU. BYU does have options other than Jimmer, but Jimmer and the starters carry almost all of the scoring load. Because BYU is short on producers, David Stockton should see some minutes to let the Zag starters get a breather and most likely will produce some quality minutes. Few will also play Hart for some minutes although, Hart is a complete offensive liability.
BYU should enjoy a favorable crowd Saturday as basic geography shows Utah is relatively close to Denver. This should not have a huge effect on the Zags as traveling and playing in hostile crowds is what a player signs up for when committing to Gonzaga.
When all is said and done, I am cautiously optimistic for Gonzaga's chances on Saturday.
What are your thoughts?