ZB: Bumped from FanPosts...Great Work!
There has been a lot of talk, especially in recent weeks whether this is Gonzaga's most talented (or best, there is a difference) team. With all do respect and admiration to Morrison's 06 squad and Stepp's 04 squad, I believe the 09 Zags were the most talented team GU has had. So let's take a closer look between that squad and this year's version of America's Team™.
|PG||Jeremy Pargo||Kevin Pangos|
|SG||Matt Bouldin||Gary Bell Jr.|
|SF||Micah Downs||Mike Hart|
|PF||Austin Daye||Elias Harris|
|C||Josh Heytvelt||Kelly Olynyk|
|G||Demetri Goodson||David Stockton|
|G||Steven Gray||Kyle Dranginis|
|F||Ira Brown||Drew Barnham|
|F||Andy Poling||Sam Dower|
|C||Robert Sacre||Przemek Karnowski|
Starting at the point guard position you have almost polar opposites in Pargo and Pangos. One the hyper athlete with on court "swag" the other the hard working gym rat with on court poise. Pangos is the better shooter, while Pargo is better at defense. Both of these guys can take control of the game in different ways, so to not hurt anyones feeling, I am calling this a push.
At the off guard spot we have Matt Bouldin and Gary Bell. Matt has the size and the passing, while Gary is a much better defender and perhaps a slightly better shooter. Gary could well be better overlall by the time he leaves, but for now, Bouldin is the better player.
Micah Downs against Mike Hart is not much of a competition talent wise. I will say this, if Micah played as hard as Mike does, he would have been drafted.
Daye against Harris is very interesting on paper. Two much hyped players, from different backgrounds and with very different styles of play. If Daye had stayed 4 years he would have been Gonzaga's all time leader in blocks and rebounds and maybe points too. So yeah it's Daye here.
Heytvelt against Olynyk. If this was sophomore Josh it would be interesting, but senior Josh was never a player of the year candidate, so it's Olynyk here.
The bench. Gray was better off the bench (and often started in place of Downs) then any one of this year's subs. Sacre was useful on defense but hardly anything on offense at that point. The rest of that bench was not very good. This year's may not have the talent of Gray and Sacre, but collectively they are deeper and better offensively. I would take this years bench over the 09 group.
Obviously a big disclaimer is that this season is still going on, but let's take a look anyway.
The 2009 team went 28-6, 14-0 in the WCC, won the WCC tournament and reached the Sweet 16. (also won the Old Spice Classic) They beat ranked Tennessee twice, a ranked St. Mary's team and could have went much deeper in the tourney if not for the Juggernaut Eventual National Champion Tar Heels. One of the losses was to the Tyreke Evens led Memphis Tigers and another was to the #2 ranked Uconn Huskies. Somehow they also lost to unranked Arizona, Utah and Portland St(!) all in 3 week span. The were ranked as high as #4 in December and finished the year ranked #13, for whatever that is worth.
So far this year's squad has won 24 games with only 2 losses. They should finish the WCC perfect and also take the crown in Vegas. This team also won the Old Spice Classic. Both losses have been to the #13 ranked team (weird right?), one to Brandon Paul and his other teammates and one to an improbable Butler buzzer beater. This squad is already ranked #3 in the coaches poll and will be at least #4 in the AP come Monday. The NCAA tournament will be this team's legacy and much of the debate will hinge on the outcome there.
Talented or Best?
I still think the 2009 team was the most talented the Gonzaga has ever had. 3 NBA players along with 4 other guys who almost made a roster and/or are playing in Europe. This year's team has 2 NBA guys (Harris and Olynyk) with maybe Przemek being at that level in time. Pangos and Bell are very talented, but they will really need to make strides to overcome their size in terms of the NBA.
That said, this years team is better. They are a more balanced unit offensively with a deeper bench and much better chemistry. They don't have any bad losses like the 09 team did, and by the time March rolls around I think they will prove it with tournament results. Either way, enjoy the ride because this team is special.
TGIF and Go Zags.
PS. '99 was the best team ever. Elite 8, the first Cinderella, put GU on the map, and of course "The Slipper Still Fits" as Gus Johnson's defining moment.