Whenever Gonzaga meets up with Billy Grier and the USD Toreros, it reminds me of how fickle the coaching business can be. In his first season in San Diego, Grier delivered immediate success, leading USD to the NCAA Tournament and a huge upset of UConn in the opening round. At that point, it seemed like a sure thing that Grier would turn USD into a consistent contender in the WCC, or perhaps even move on to the Pac-12. However, for a variety of reasons, Grier has never been able to discover the winning formula that his team had that season, with the Toreros consistently lingering at the bottom of the WCC standings ever since.
As the first assistant from the Mark Few coaching tree to get a head-coaching job, I always root for Grier to succeed. There is no doubt that the guy can coach, and for the first time since he took over the program, it seems that USD is headed in the right direction. While the results on the court this season haven't been overly impressive, Grier is relying on some young talent that is working hard and has the potential to develop. With the success that Leon Rice is having at Boise St., it would be great to see Grier get USD headed in the right direction. The more success that former Gonzaga coaches have, the more likely it is for top assistants to come to Spokane when there is an opening on the staff.USD has its own version of GBJ and Kevin Pangos, as the Toreros rely on two freshman guards for a majority of their offensive production. Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson combine to average 22.8 ppg, while Anderson leads the Toreros with 4.6 apg. Dee is an elite shooter that has the ability to win games for the Toreros if he can catch fire behind the arc. Another freshman that has a world of potential is Simi Fajemisin, who is an incredibly raw but athletic big man for USD.
In case you haven't been bored to death by the topic, the small forward position continues to be the big question mark for the Zags. In the sloppy victory over USF, Guy Landry-Edi put together his best game in a Gonzaga uniform and frankly looked like the answer at the SF position. Unfortunately, we have said the same thing about the Hoff and Mathis Keita this season, so hopefully this is the time of the season that one of these guys can grab the position and hold on to it. Landry offers the best combination of offense and defense, but it's vital that he starts playing heavy minutes with the starters so that he can develop an offensive rhythm with Pangos and Bell in the backcourt.
For all the question marks and bouts of inconsistency, it's important to remember that with a win tonight, Gonzaga will be 16-3. That is pretty incredible when you consider that the backcourt consists of two freshman and the overall lack of consistency from the small forward position and Robert Sacre. Although I don't think this team is anywhere near what it could potentially be in a month, I expect the Zags to cruise to the 81-57 win.