A couple things are sure to happen when Gonzaga hits the road in the West Coast Conference. First, the students will get shiny new t-shirts saying "Beat the Zags" or some similar type of message. Secondly, the gym will be sold out. The Gonzaga traveling road show kicks off this evening on ESPNU as the Broncos of Santa Clara welcome the Bulldogs to town.
Santa Clara, 10-9 on the season and 1-2 within the conference, is led by Kevin Foster. Foster, who missed a majority of last season with a foot injury, is averaging nearly 19 points a game for Santa Clara. Like we've seen with so many good players on bad WCC teams, Foster has to do a lot for his team, in fact he does way too much. Foster is a volume shooter (39% from the floor) and he has struggled with turnovers thus far this season. He's less flashy than a Keion Bell type player for Pepperdine but has similar high risk/high reward qualities. Foster's sidekick is Marc Trasolini. The 6'9'' junior forward is the Broncos most imposing threat in the interior. He's willing to mix it up and has been a very efficient player thus far for Kerry Keaing. He's averaging 12 points a game while shooting 56% from the floor. He leads the Broncos on the glass with six a game.
Not surprisingly, Gonzaga has the statistical edge in virtually every major category of this game. A couple things should make for a very easy win. First of all, the inside out game should be wide open. Robert Sacre has had an excellent start to conference play and althought Trasolini is known to mix it up a bit, Rob and Elias should have no problem getting off to a hot start at the Leavey Center. Secondly, Gonzaga should be able to boost their defensive statistics in this game. Santa Clara has struggled this season distributing the ball and is actually turning the ball over on more occasions than they are assisting made baskets. On the road, it would be nice to force early turnovers with some pressure at the top and pop the Broncos in the mouth. If the trends have any say in this one, it won't take much to get Santa Clara turning the ball over early and often.
Last game, the Zags only allowed Loyola Marymount to shoot 27% from the floor. I can't imagine that number sliding up much at all considering the problems Santa Clara has moving the basketball on offense. Look for the usual cast of Rob Sacre and Steven Gray getting things started early with solid inside-out play and some pressure defense on the outside by Meech Goodson, Gray, Manny Arop, and Mathis Keita. Zags should roll in this one 78-60.