Feb 23 2012; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Elias Harris (20) makes a basket against Brigham Young Cougars forward Nate Austin (33) during the second half at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs would go onto defeat the Cougars by a final score of 74-63. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-US PRESSWIRE
It's pretty hard to believe that it's already March and that Gonzaga is entering the point of the season that we all have been waiting for since the season tipped off against Eastern Washington. One of the significant topics of discussion entering the season was the impact that BYU might have on the WCC. The Cougars certainly proved to be one of the top teams in the league, but didn't come in and immediate take a stranglehold of the conference. In somewhat surprising fashion, BYU was forced to play in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament and received a stern test from the USD Toreros, who very easily could have won the game had they played smarter down the stretch.
In the two meetings this season between GU and BYU, home-court advantage proved to be key. Both teams cruised to victories on their home court, with the final scoreline not reflecting the dominance each group showed on their floor. With these two teams meeting up on a neutral court in Las Vegas, in front of what could be the greatest crowd in WCC-Tournament history, it will be very interesting to see the maturity and execution level from both squads. There is no doubt that BYU will be more proficient offensively with Noah Hartsock back in the lineup, but will there be any fatigue after the grueling game against USD last night?The most exciting part of the otherwise brutal WCC-finale against USD was the confidence exhibited by Guy Landry-Edi, especially in the second half. Having another weapon on the wing that can score and keep the defensive off balance makes life so much easier for Kevin Pangos and GBJ on the perimeter. Not only did Landry-Edi attack the rim and finish, but he also played under control on the perimeter and took advantage of offensive opportunities, as opposed to forcing them.
Another thing that I will have my eye on, not only tonight, but going forward, is the shooting of Kevin Pangos. When playing in the friendly confines of K2, Pangos was simply brilliant from the perimeter. However, that shooting form didn't carry over on the road, where Pangos just never seemed to get comfortable. If the freshman point guard can shoot with confidence on the neutral courts that Gonzaga will play on the rest of the season, this team could have the chance to surprise some people. However, if he struggles, I would be surprised to see the Zags win another game this season.
It will be a fascinating game to watch tonight, and really, I don't remember ever being this excited for a WCC Tournament. All teams in the semifinals are capable of beating each other and it will be incredibly interesting to see who emerges in the next five hours to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.