It's early here in Denver, Colorado and Mark Few has decided to play a practical joke on me by scheduling a scrimmage against a potential final four team 15 minutes from my house and not letting me watch. For four years I was able to see every home game in the Kennel, the great games in the Spokane Areana (well maybe not great games, but against great teams), and was even able to travel to Oakland my freshman year to see the Zags play UCLA (mistake) and last year to see them play Akron and Western Kentucky in Portland. Now, I expect to go through some major Gonzaga withdrawls because, as most of you Gonzaga fans know, once you've watched a game in the Kennel which is the best college basketball atmosphere in America, it is impossible to simulate the experience anywhere else. For that reason, this may be my last blog for a while as it is likely I'll be arrested trying to enter the Pepsi Center today to watch Gonzaga scrimmage the Longhorns of Texas.
Rick Barnes has transformed Texas from just a big time football school to a powerhouse basketball program. His recruiting and player development are nearly unmatched by anyone across the country. He is known as one of the best teaching coaches in the nation and he has, in my book, the best freshman in the country in Avery Bradley. Bradley might not be as much of an offensive threat at this point as someone like John Wall but he is a complete player, especially on defense. Gonzaga's frontcourt will also be under severe duress throughout the scrimmage. Dexter Pittman is an absolute monster and he has seen his basketball skill set flourish under Barnes. His sophomore season he averaged 3 points in 7 minutes of play. Last year in his junior season he improved dramatically and scored 10 points in 16 minutes of play. He basically went from a flat footed big man who ate up minutes to a guy that is getting serious NBA consideration. It also helps that he is 300 pounds and moves very well. Damion James is also a star for the Longhorns. A guy that entered UT in the same recruiting class as Kevin Durant, James has been a do-it-all player in Austin and has become a great offensive threat. He averaged 15 and 9 a game last season and should give freshman Elias Harris all he can handle.
There will be some great individual matchups that should let Gonzaga know exactly where they stand. As I said, Elias Harris will get the task of defending the 6'7'' Damion James. Robert Sacre won't see many players more physically imposing than him but Pittman is one of those guys. Avery Bradley, Justin Mason, J'Covan Brown, Jai Lucas, and Dogus Balbay are all excellent guards for the Longhorns. Lucas, a former Florida Gator, won't be able to play until the second semester but he'll be active in this scrimmage. They are all athletic guards with length that should have a great battle with Meech Goodson, Matt Bouldin, and Steven Gray.
Hopefully I'll have something to report, but just in case, get the bail money ready please. Thanks in advance!