I don't think any Gonzaga fan would have thought that the game against Washington St. would carry such a high level of significance for this team. There is little doubt that Wazzu fans have to feel incredibly confident heading into this game, especially when you look at how strong their team played against Kansas State. The Cougs are off to a 5-1 start, with the lone loss coming by five points against K-State in a game that Washington St. certainly could have won.
On the other side of the equation, the Zags enter the game coming off another pitiful performance in nearly every facet of the game. The one saving grace to start the season for me is the fact that Demetri Goodson has been so solid that fans haven't been able to flat out blame him for everything that goes wrong on the court. Anyone that still wants to see Meech sitting on the bench only need to look back at the incredibly marginal performances by both Marquise Carter and David Stockton against Illinois.
In all honesty, the slight glimmer of hope that has allowed me to not completely abandon every ounce of hope for a special season is that Elias Harris is yet to be 100% this season. Maybe I am naive, but for some reason I think that this team has the chance to really improve once Elias is able to practice regularly and has the stamina to give this team 33 minutes a game. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when that day will come, as dealing with an achilles injury and a shoulder injury certainly limits the type of participation Elias can give on a daily basis.So how does this Gonzaga team get out of its slump and somehow make it through the next three weeks with an ounce of confidence? I think the answer to this question falls directly on the coaching staff. What is there to lose from trying out a 3/4 court press or a 1-3-1 zone?
It's about time this staff takes a couple of risks and sees if they can learn something about this team that is clearly not being revealed in practice. I'm sick of watching this team play in a flat 2-3 zone defense that practically begs to be shoot over. One of the aspects of the loss to Illinois that was particularly galling for me was the fact his team was ever in a zone. Illinois has four guys on their roster that shoot over 40% from behind the three-point line, and yet there is Gonzaga in a 2-3 zone. That is poor coaching and something that needs to be changed. This staff can't be scared to make adjustments and changes, because what may have worked the past couple of years, certainly isn't working so far.
I honestly have no idea how this team can come together and slow down Klay Thompson, especially with a healthy Reggie Moore now available for the Cougs to help complement guys like Marcus Capers and Faisal Aden. Frankly, it will take an actual team performance to get a win, and I have seen no proof this team is capable of coming together and delivering what is required to beat a very strong Washington State team. Therefore, I think the Zags drop to 4-4, as the Cougs win 77-68.