This is so much easier to write when this team wins! It feels like it has been forever since I have written in a positive light regarding this team. There is plenty of chatter this fine morning about the Gonzaga and Tennessee match up and everyone seems to be in agreement that Mark Few's team is back. Call it swagger, mojo, or whatever else you crazy kids are calling it these days but it looks like this team figured something out last night against the Vols.
Make sure to check our postgame reaction in the post below and share some comments with us. Let's see what the nation thought about last night's performance.
continue reading after the jump for postgame reactions...
CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish wrote an outstanding piece regarding the Zags-Vols match up. Mr. Parrish got some very first-hand information regarding the state of this team after the game.
"Honestly, I've missed you and your swagger, though not nearly as much as you've missed your swagger. But -- just as Heytvelt predicted -- that swagger (otherwise known as "it") is now back courtesy of Wednesday night's 89-79 overtime victory at 15th-ranked Tennessee, and for those of you who don't believe me you should've been in the Zags' locker room here at Thompson-Boling Arena, where grown men showered, stood in towels and then broke into an impromptu rendition of James Brown's classic I Feel Good."
This team has TONS of attitude. We saw it in the Old Spice Classic, we saw it at Kraziness in the Kennel and we saw it four 38 minutes or so against UConn. Seeing them sleepwalk through Portland State and Utah was nearly impossible to watch because it felt like the wrong team was on the court. Gonzaga is now in a great spot. They have four losses which is more than expected but they'll be favorites to win every game the way out and they won't get tested again until the end of January when St. Mary's comes calling. The attitude and confidence of this team should be sky high by then.
When Cameron Tatum scored the first 14 points for the Vols in the game and the lead eventually got up to 14 points, it seemed like we were about to see a show that we had all seen before. Both Utah and Portland State lit the Zags up from beyond the arc but the Vols sputtered in the second half and that is a big confidence boost for Gonzaga. Here is a piece from Rush the Court, an excellent CBB blog.
"Does this mean that the Zags we saw a month ago - the ones who played defense - are back? Obviously, it’s uncertain, but at least they appeared to be interested in the concept tonight. Or maybe they just know how to play Tennessee."
I'm not sure if the defense is totally back yet. Tennessee looked remarkably average shooting in the second half and, aside from Wayne Chism, no one really looked that good. I do think Gonzaga plays well against the Vols because Tennessee is not a very fundamental team and they match up horribly with the Zags. The length and cutting killed them.
This piece from AOL's FanHouse basically mimicked my thought process late in the game.
"The rap on Gonzaga was that the team was a little bit soft. And to be honest, a lot of that was justified. They just didn't make the plays to win. And when Matt Bouldin missed a potential winning shot at the end of overtime, you couldn't help but think, "Here comes the old Gonzaga fold again."
But it didn't happen. When Tennessee flubbed its chance to win, something seemed to click for Gonzaga that carried them through a dominating overtime session. This is the kind of win that the Bulldogs needed to carry them through the conference season."
I had replays of UConn playing in my head over and over again during the overtime intermission. Daye was saddled with four fouls so I was just waiting for him to foul out early in the period and watch the wheels come off. They should great toughness and Tennessee helped Gonzaga a lot with their questionable shot selection and sloppy play.
America loves this team. After reading all sorts of blogs and websites and newspapers this basketball season, there is a very excited buzz about this Gonzaga team. People realize that the amount of talent present is just too much to ignore. I'll give you a quick couple examples.
A blog that I tend to read every day, Storming the Floor, had a little snippet about the game last night and the author had a confession to make.
Maybe I'm a sucker, but I still like the Zags to at least make the Elite Eight.
Those are some pretty major words considering he is talking about a team that has recently lost to a mediocre Mountain West team and a team from the Big Sky at home. The general pulse about this team is that they might get hot at the right time. Memphis and two games with St.Mary's is all that is really left before conference tournament time. The best part is that two of these three games are in Spokane which should really help get them to a win. A four loss season is nothing to scoff at...let's keep our fingers crossed.
Another outstanding national blogger, Mr. Luke Winn dissected the college basketball landscape by offensive and defensive efficiency numbers and his analysis was rather favorable for the Zags. Winn separated the teams by contenders, sleepers, and pretenders and surprisingly to me, Gonzaga was in the contender ranks. They join Pitt, Duke, UNC, UConn, G'Town, and West Virginia in these ranks. My god, the Big East and ACC really do run college basketball right now. These efficiency stats are very telling at Gonzaga is highly ranked in both categories.
For now, all is well in Gonzaga land.
This brings Gonzaga's record up to 2-4 since our blog has been on SB Nation. I didn't want to call it some kind of curse but hopefully it has now been broken.