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Zags dominate Bakersfield; 2011 class rolling along in state playoffs

Steven Gray closed out his career at the McCarthey Athletic Center with a win last night over Cal State-Bakersfield.  The Zags, which close the season on a seven game win streak, were paced by Robert Sacre and Sam Dower.  Each of the Gonzaga big men had 16 points on the evening, Rob in 16 minutes, and Sam in 20.  Gray, the lone Bulldog senior, was off last night but it doesn't really matter.  He finished with nine points and leaves K2 with Gonzaga's 11th straight conference title. 

There aren't a whole lot of words to describe last night's game besides dominance.  All 12 Zags saw action in this one, including Mangisto Arop who played 12 minutes.  The last time Manny had double-digit minutes was on February 5th against Memphis when he played 12 minutes and scored five points and had two rebounds.  

The Zags were 50% from the floor, 38% from beyond the arc, and 95% from the free throw line.  They outrebounded the Roadrunners 43-30 and had 13 more assists. 

Aside from a bit of a slow start, this was exactly how I expected the Zags to close out the season.  They've played their best basketball over the past month and to cap it off with a convincing rout on senior night was ideal.  We all know what is next: Las Vegas.  The Bulldogs first game will come Sunday evening on ESPN2 and, as a betting man, I would have to assume the Dons of San Francisco will be the opponenet. 

Gonzaga's 2011 recruiting class is rolling through the postseason.  Read on after the jump for more...

It has been a tricky path for Kentridge and Gary Bell Jr. in the postseason.  Kentridge was one of the best teams throughout the season but stumbled down the stretch.  They played a couple of win or go home games but survived behind star guard Gary Bell who has saved his best games for the playoffs.  Over the past three games, all postseason, Gary has scored 47, 31, and 27 points.  He's averaging right around 29 points on the season.  Kentridge will play their state quarterfinals game against a familiar name on Thursday.  The Chargers will take on Gonzaga Prep, led by Chris Sarbaugh, who will also play for Gonzaga University next year as a non-scholarshipped athlete.  That game tips off at 2 PM at the Tacoma Dome.

No Gonzaga recruit has had a bigger target on their back than Kyle Dranginis this season.  The Idaho guard is one of the most decorated players to come out of the state in quite some time.  Skyview, Dranginis' high school team, were upset in the district championship game but still advanced to the state playoffs which begin on Thursday.  In the loss, Kyle scored 30 points which is right around his average.  Idaho's state playoffs also kick off of Thursday.  Skyview will hit the court against 8-13 Moscow at 3 PM. 

While it has been fun to watch Dranginis and Bell progress this season, I can't help but be swooned by the downright scary stats being thrown up by Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler.  On the season, Spangler is averaging 30 points, 17 rebounds, 6 blocks, and nearly five assists per game.  All the while I have been waiting for that elusive quadruple double and, in his most recent game, Spangler got it.  Facing Anadarko in the state playoffs on Saturday, Ryan scored 26 points, pulled down 15 boards, and also had 12 assists and 10 blocked shots.  Spangler has paced Bridge Creek all season long and has established himself as one of the most dominate players in all of Oklahoma.  #4 Bridge Creek will hit the court next against #3 Woodward on Friday night.

Kevin Pangos has been a bit harder to track this season but all the reports have been glowing.  Recently, in the York Region title, Pangos had another huge game but he couldn't get Dennison the W.  This report, from Crown Magazine online goes in depth on Pangos' performance:

Kevin Pangos was stellar as usual with 42 points. He’s a deceptively quick point guard who is adept at putting his defender off balance and really can’t be guarded or stopped 1-on-1. His pull-up jumper and three-ball(5 threes) were going and his ability to change speeds and finish in traffic is tremendous.

Kevin's probably the one recruit I am most curious about.  Can he handle division one speed, length, and athleticism?  Also, we have seen recently that Gonzaga's Canadian recruits have had a bit slower learning curve.  It took Robert Sacre some time to become a solid threat and Mangisto Arop and Kelly Olynyk are both struggling through their sophomore seasons.  As a point guard, I don't worry as much about this with Kevin but you have to think that it will take some time to transitoin his style to the way basketball is played here in the states.

It is great to see the insane stats being put up by these guys but it is also great to see each of their teams being major factors in the state playoffs.  Hopefully they can all bring that winning mentality to Gonzaga as I can't question the talent is there.