The roller coaster ride that is Gonzaga basketball 2010-11 continued this evening as the Bulldogs fell to the Gaels by a count of 73-71. Personally, I'm at an interesting place right now in as much as that I think Gonzaga played about as good a game as this team is capable of tonight. Were there turnovers? Sure, Steven's five and Elias' three were brutal but, and I hate saying this, that is simply what this team is this season. It is an inconsistent bunch that some twenty-odd games is still grasping at straws to figure everything out.
I'm sure some will take offense to the thought that tonight's effort is basically a near-peak of what this team can do but the track record this season is mind boggling and tonight was no different. Gonzaga's "big three" are the perfect indicator of that. Elias started slow once again, made some nice plays, but his turnovers continue to accumulate. Rob has made great strides in a few areas but, if you want to rely on him to make a shot not uncontested on the free throw stripe, it could be an adventure. And lastly, Steven Gray is a nice microcosm of this team as a whole. Flashes that dazzle, but just not enough to get over the hump.
While the big three are the microcosm, there are a couple other factors that have doomed the team throughout the year and that continued tonight. First of all, outside of Steven, Gonzaga doesn't have an offensively aggressive guard. There's nothing. Monninghoff can hit a shot, Goodson can attempt a shot, Stockton will hurl the occasional three, but there is very little play moving towards the basket if you aren't named Steven Gray. A lot of Gray's turnovers are attributed to the fact that there is a 200-page book out on this team and Steven driving is page one. A guy I was hoping to see fill this role was Manny Arop....he didn't play tonight. And, to be honest, Manny was someone I thought needed to see the bench long ago. He has added no value to this team on the attacking side of the court.
The Pandora's Box that opens when you combine a frightened backcourt with frightening points guard play, is terrifying. It makes everything that much harder. There's very little floor spacing, and that leads the way for isolation plays because no one is cutting, no one is moving, and it damn near seems like no one wants to take a shot. People will look to the box score and comment that there seems to be no problem scoring baskets but the issues are obvious and what I am saying is by no means Earth-shattering.
I realize this isn't a typical recap but (and maybe this has to do with it being 12:30) a loss like this will clog your brain a bit. I'll try and broach this game again sometime soon. Kudos to Sam Dower on one hell of a game. Without Sam, Saint Mary's looked to be poised for a rout.
Win the WCC Tourney!