While there is a lot of hope and excitement for the West Coast Conference this year, tonight's game is evidence that the conference still has a long, long way to go. The top-heavy trio of Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, and BYU will assuredly make a run at the NCAA Tournament come March but the bottom of the conference is just as bleak as the top is bright. The Zags completely obliterated Portland tonight in Spokane in Gonzaga's first conference game. The Bulldogs were paced once again by freshman point guard Kevin Pangos. Pangos dropped in 19 points in 21 minutes. He was 5-7 from beyond the arc as his confidence continues to blossom in front of our eyes.
Pangos was joined in double figures by a trio of big men. Robert Sacre netted 13 points on 3-5 shooting (7-7 from the line), Sam Dower scored 15 on 5-7 shooting, and Ryan Spangler got 21 minutes of burn and scored an early career high of 11 points. Sam Dower continues to quietly gain confidence and do some great things all over the court. While he only played 18 minutes, Sam was efficient, grabbed some boards, and didn't make mistakes. I am still a firm believer that come March, Sam is going to be one of the biggest keys to this team's success.
One other bright spot in my estimation has to be Guy Landry Edi. While this all has to be taken with a grain of salt because of how bad Portland was, Guy is best described as a strong safety on the basketball court. He is a guy you have to keep your eye on at all times around the court because he is simply always around the ball. In 19 minutes, Guy scored nine points on 3-5 shooting with four boards, and a pair of assists and steals. While he is still settling in to the offense, Guy is simply a force. He brings a ton of energy and athleticism to this team. What has impressed me most is how aggressive he is. Gonzaga's recent junior college transfers Marquise Carter and Ira Brown started off their Gonzaga careers with quite a bit of hesitation. Guy has not been reserved whatsoever and it is pretty incredible to think about how good he will be when he is finally in the flow of the game.
It is so hard to believe that New Years Eve is right around the corner but, for me, this is the night I had circled on my calendar. Not because I am looking forward to getting a bit liquored up but because it is Gonzaga-Xavier. Out of all the games this season, the Zags-Musketeers matchup should be a blast. The two shining stars of non-BCS basketball are both pretty darn loaded and should give fans a game to remember. The big key will be if the Zags can handle how physical Xavier will be on their home court. More to come...