For a second straight season, Gonzaga will be on the road in a College Gameday matchup. A year ago, Gonzaga's loss on the road to Butler sparked an incredible run of dominance through the West Coast Conference slate. This time around, the Gameday matchup is quite a bit later in the season and there is plenty more on the line. Most notably, this is the last chance for the Zags to get a true statement win. An early loss in Maui ruined their chances to take on Baylor and potentially Syracuse and their only other tough test, on the road against Kansas State, resulted in a loss. This isn't a 'do or die' game for the Bulldogs as they are the odds on favorite to win the WCC but it is a crucial game for their eventual seeding. With that said, let's take a look at some news from around the interwebs...
The Wiltjer Transformation.
Really cool video from the folks at KREM 2 (link here) about Kyle Wiltjer's redshit season. Similar to Kelly Olynyk a few years ago, Wiltjer is transforming his body under the guidance of Gonzaga trainer Travis Knight. A lot of good, honest opinions about where Wiltjer was when he entered Gonzaga and how much he has already improved. While it would be unfair to have Olynyk-ian expectations for him, I can't help but be super excited. At the same time, I can't help but wonder if this is on the agenda next season for a guy like Ryan Edwards or Luke Meikle.
2015 Recruiting Goodness.
We have covered several 2015 prospects already but yesterday, a few tweets came across the can only be described as very exciting:
Hemsley, Thompson, and Small are all in ESPN's Top 60 prospects for 2015 so this is a great development.— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) February 6, 2014
When we interviewed @CASupAthletes last year, he said Kendall and Jeremy were the most likely to play together in college— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) February 6, 2014
Gonzaga will likely have 4 scholarships in the 2015 class so these three are very much in play. While I don't expect to get the full trio, I really like Gonzaga's chances of landing a guy like Kendall Small and, if that happens, he could bring Thompson or Hemsley with him.
Jesse Wade is the only 2015 prospect currently committed but it is important to note that he won't use a scholarship until 2017 when he completes his religious mission.
Gonzaga - Memphis Chatter.
- NBCSports' Rob Dauster has a short blurb about the Zags - Tigers matchup on Saturday where he says what we all know: this is a very important game for Gonzaga. The Zags have plenty of decent wins, but nothing you can really look to when we get to March and, as he painfully points out, memories of last season will surely be in the heads of people when looking at another gaudy Gonzaga record.
- Eamonn Brennan previews the game for ESPN. Similar to Dauster, Brennan outlines how big the game is for Gonzaga from a resume perspective. He also points out this little fact about why this is big for Memphis even though they already have a solid resume:
Or maybe you prefer large-scale narrative? Memphis coach Josh Pastner is just 2-14 against top-25 teams in his career. The can-he-beat-good-teams-how-good-of-a-coach-is-he-really nonsense is always just around the corner in Memphis, any time the Tigers hit a rough patch, or lose a game they should win, or blow an opportunity. Meanwhile, Gonzaga is just 4-23 against top-25 teams on the road, and all four of those wins have come since 1999-00. This would, in some ways, be a momentous victory.
I can't help but agree with Brennan that this would be a momentous victory for the Zags not only for their tournament resume but also to help get over the previous road woes at Memphis.