It was a big week for the Zags as they took down conference rival Saint Mary's on their home court and avenge some past losses at San Francisco. For their efforts, they Associated Press moved the Bulldogs up two spots to No. 3 in the latest rankings. Gonzaga is also third in the Coaches Poll, which is where they were last week. In both polls, Indiana and Miami are in the top two spots. The Zags received first place votes in both polls, garnering two in the AP Poll and three in the Coaches Poll.
Even with their position in the polls, the goal for Gonzaga is to get a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament. I still feel as though it is unlikely for the Zags to get a one-seed at this juncture mainly because of their schedule. While Mark Few and Jerry Krause assembled a very solid nonconference slate, the fact that this is a down year in the West Coast Conference could mean that this team gets passed over should it win out.
What is beneficial for the Zags is that they should enter the tournament as the top team on the West Coast with the best overall resume. Right now, Arizona sits at No. 12 and they have looked very rough as of late. If Gonzaga can keep up their winning ways, they should at least be placed in a favorable location even if the seed isn't where some think it should be.
Talented JUCO to visit on Saturday
One area where Gonzaga has been vastly improved this year has been on defense. On the perimeter, the Bulldogs have been far more consistent than in years past and, aside from a few rough games, they have done a good job adjusting and throwing off opposing stars. As we look towards the future, it will be important for the Zags to continue to find talented and athletic defenders to keep the momentum going. Looking at junior college forward Elgin Cook, it appears the staff is going to do what it can to make that happen.
Cook, who will visit Gonzaga on Saturday to watch them take on San Diego. Originally from Milwaukee and now at Northwest Florida State College has established himself as one of the top junior college players in the country. His offer list verifies that statement as he is being courted by Gonzaga, Oregon, Arkansas, Illinois, New Mexico, Washington, and many others. He will be visiting Oregon on Thursday of this week prior to taking in Spokane.
Once he makes his college decision, Cook will have three years to play division one basketball and should be a huge addition for the school of his choice. While Cook is billed as a great defender (he's the son of former NBA defensive star Alvin Robertson), he is also no slouch on the offensive end. He's averaging 15 points per game in just 22 minutes and is shooting an incredible 61% from the floor. Here is a great description of Cook's game from Brad Winton at JucoRecruiting.com:
Cook, a red-shirt freshman at NW Florida State, is having an excellent year to date. Cook creates match-up nightmares because of his ability to drag bigger post players out on the perimeter and take smaller guards & forwards into the post. He is excellent when attacking the rim and crashing the offensive glass. He is an elite athlete who plays well above the rim and has a knack for timing the ball when it comes off the rim.
I think most Gonzaga fans are most apprehensive about how Mark Few will replace Elias Harris and, if he should decide to go pro, Kelly Olynyk. Those two have been the consistent stars of this team and the thought of losing both this offseason is daunting. While Elgin Cook is more of a perimeter threat and won't be looked at as a direct replacement to Harris, it is good to know that he can take guys into the post and play physically. Gonzaga has a plethora of guys looking to get minutes at the small forward with Drew Barham, Kyle Dranginis, Gerard Coleman, and Angel Nunez when he is eligible in December. While Cook would join that group, it is likely that Mark Few is going to have to play small a whole lot next year if Olynyk is no longer at Gonzaga. Cook's defensive prowess and athleticism would make him a welcome addition.
While Cook is being courted by a number of solid programs, the fact that Gonzaga is now No. 3 has to weigh heavily on his mind. We will see if the Zags success this year pays off with a commitment from Cook.