Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Gonzaga Bulldogs’

Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

Posted by Tommy on December 3, 2008

The early stages of college basketball have been a blast. Some teams/players have impressed early on, and some have been disappointing so far. Here’s my rundown of “Who’s Hot and Who’s Not” so far this season.

Who’s Hot:

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Mark Few and the Bulldogs have shown that they deserve to be at the top along with the BCS conference powerhouses. The Zags have all the pieces to make a run to the Final Four- a great senior point guard in Jeremy Pargo, strong big men in Josh Heyvelt, Ira Brown and Robert Sacre, and a couple great scorers in Micah Downs and Austin Daye. Stephen Gray is a solid role player and is lights out from beyond the arc when locked in. Heytvelt has looked like the projected lottery pick of old and Daye is emerging as one of the most versatile players in the country. The Zags took down Oklahoma State, blew out Maryland and beat a great Tennessee team to win the Old Spice Classic.

Blake Griffin: Griffin is rapidly becoming the poster child of college basketball and deservedly so. His numbers are off the charts. 25.7 PPG is impressive, but what really jumps out is the fact that he’s shooting 69.2% from the field. His rebounding skills are already well-documented with three 21-rebound performances. His combination of size, athleticism and basketball skills are unlike any I have witnessed in my short time as a college basketball fan.

Tobacco Road Rivals: The best rivalry in all of sports is carrying heavy national implications once again this year. UNC is the favorite to win the title and Duke has shown they are among the best in the land. Even though Duke was in the Top 10 in the preseason polls, there were some questions about their front court going into the season. After the first few weeks, the Dukies have changed any doubters minds with four wins by over twenty points, a 2K Sports Classic crown and a win over #10 Purdue in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Singler, Smith, Thomas and Zoubek all look much improved from last season.  Scheyer is also playing a huge role in Duke’s early success and Henderson, although he can do better, has been good thus far. On the other side, UNC has been running like a well-oiled machine. Lawson has proven that he is one of the best point guards in the land and Hansbrough looks like he’s in midseason form despite the injury that held him out of the Heels’ first couple of games. February 11th and March 8. Mark your calendars, folks, because these two games between storied rivals are going to be incredible.

Stephen & Seth Curry: Stephen Curry has proven that he is the best scorer in college basketball. He’s still leading the country in scoring after being held scoreless against a constant double-team from Loyola (MD). Going into the season, a lot of people, myself included, were questioning whether or not the transition to the point and the burden of running the offense would hinder his ability to score, but Curry has shown he can score as well as involve his other teammates. He’s averaging 7 APG and has a assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8. Curry is also contributing on the defensive end with 3 steals per game. Curry has evolved from a pure shooter into a college basketball star and perhaps the best player in the land. His younger brother Seth has shown that he’s learned a thing or two from his father and older brother. He’s averaging 22 PPG as a freshman at Liberty and had a 26 point performance against Virginia and 22 points against George Mason.

Kyle McAlarney: We all knew this guy could shoot. But the way he’s shooting right now is nothing short of insane. He’s shooting 51.3% from beyond the arc and in his last three performances went 10-18, 9-17 and 7-13 from deep. He isn’t only doing this against weak opponents. He went 5-9 against Texas and his 10-18 performance came against UNC, a game in which he had 39 of the Irish’s 87 points. If he keeps on shooting like this, it’ll be tough for even the best of teams to guard the inside-outside combination of McAlarney and Harangody.

Honorable Mention: James Harden, Middle of the Big East, 76 Classic’s Final Four (Wake, Baylor, UTEP, AZ State)

Who’s Not:

Mullens & DeRozan: This years class of diaper dandies pales in comparison to the classes of the two previous seasons. The big names like Mullens and DeRozan have vastly underperformed their expectations coming out of high school. DeRozan is averaging less than 10 PPG and under 5 RPG against weak competition. Against USC toughest opponents so far, Seton Hall and Missouri, he averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. BJ Mullens was supposed to be one of the best big men in the country but has been nothing short of disappointing early. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG annd 4 RPG and has two blocks in his first four games. He’s seen no more than 20 minutes in a game so perhaps Thad is working his freshman in little by little, but a supposed stud like Mullens should see all the playing time he can get, so there must be something wrong.

Siena: For a team that returns all five starters that made it to the second round of the last year’s NCAA tournament, Siena has not looked very impressive in the early going. Granted they did play in the toughest non-conference tournament, but they played two teams they should have beat and lost both games. Siena blew a 12 point lead midway through the second half against Wichita State and never led in the Oklahoma State game. Siena has a good starting five, but their lack of depth has been a thorn in Fran McCaffrey’s backside.

Hurricanes discipline: Miami’s sophomore point guard Eddie Rios was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday for a violation of team rules. This suspension was handed down shortly before the tip of their ACC/Big 10 Challenge matchup against #21 Ohio State. Rios had been filling in at the point for Lance Hurdle, who has been recovering from injury. As if Rios’ suspension wasn’t bad enough, star guard Jack McClinton was ejected with 10 minutes left in the first half after he slapped Ohio State’s Anthony Crater in the face right after McClinton passed the ball. McClinton got the ball back after he slapped Crater and sunk his fourth 3-pointer in the first ten minutes of the game. McClinton hadn’t missed from beyond the arc that game and the Canes were rolling against Ohio State. Ohio State chipped away at Miami’s 14-point halftime lead to secure a 73-68 win. Although the slap didn’t appear to be too violent, McClinton has to keep his cool as the leader of the Hurricanes.

Patrick: C’mon Pat, you jumped out to a pretty nice lead in our daily selections, and now you’re under .500…

Honorable Mention: USC, Charlotte, A.J. Price

Anything else you can think of? Just leave a comment.

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Posted in Features | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Weekend Roundup (11/29-30)

Posted by Zach on December 1, 2008

Tennessee Gonzaga Basketball

Here’s a summary of how an entertaining weekend played out in college hoops…

Five Most Meaningful Outcomes

1. Gonzaga 83, Tennessee 74: Credible experts like Dick Vitale and myself (okay, Dickie V isn’t a credible expert) predicted Gonzaga would make the Final Four this season. Their performance Sunday night in a huge resume building win over Tennessee vaulted them firmly into contention to reach Detroit and established the Zags as a top-five team in the nation. The big differences from a year ago? Jeremy Pargo has listened to NBA scouts advice and molded into a coaches dream for a point guard- one who makes sure his talented teammates are involved before taking over scoring-wise when his team desperately needs a boost. Austin Daye has turned into one of the top shooters in college basketball at 6’10. Josh Heytvelt is clearly the team leader and has advanced post moves and scoring ability some in the NBA don’t even possess. Other players like Goodson, Brown, Bouldin, Downs and Gray (whom I love) all know their roles and stay grounded. Rather than the usual finesse Gonzaga teams of years past, this group is physical, tough and has all the ingredients. They certainly impressed Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, and these two teams will meet up again next month in Knoxville for a tremendous rematch.

2. Wake Forest 87, Baylor 74: I was extremely impressed with Wake Forest’s performance in a dominating second half over a Baylor team that cleanly beat Arizona State on Friday night. Coach Dino Gaudio allows his athletic team to run the floor and play the fast-paced offense that suits point guard Jeff Teague. Wake grabbed 57 rebounds in the contest led by L.D. Williams, Al Farouq-Aminu, Chas McFarland and James Johnson. Whether Wake can contend with Duke or Carolina in the ACC is still a question mark, but they certainly showed they’re top-4 seed worthy in Anaheim. The question is whether Wake can develop more consistency shooting from the outside as the season wears on (fortunately Baylor shot only 26% from deep in the game).

3. Kentucky 54, West Virginia 43: This one was ugly, but Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie doesn’t care. The Wildcats rebounded from the VMI loss and the UNC thrashing to win the Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend, defeating both Kansas State and NCAA contender West Virginia. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are constituting pretty much the entire Wildcat offense, with Meeks once again putting the game away at the free throw line and Patterson chipping in with a double-double. These two will need to lead Kentucky if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament and save their coaches job. Kentucky overcame a 26-16 deficit at halftime in this game.

4. Pittsburgh 57, Washington State 43: Two defensive-minded teams met in the final of the Legends Classic in New Jersey as you can tell by the score. Sam Young (15) and Levance Fields (14) forced enough Washington State turnovers (15) and turned them into points for the victory. After a hotly contested first half, Pitt really stiffened their defense in the second stanza. With a weaker Pac-10, the Cougars could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament as a third place finisher, so it’s a nice resume win for Pittsburgh.

5. Georgetown 75, Maryland 48: These crosstown foes finally meet (why they don’t play is a mystery) in the third place game of the Old Spice Classic with Georgetown winning in an impressive rout. It’s fairly clear that John Thompson is simply recruiting on a higher level than Gary Williams in the talent-heavy DC area at this point, with the Hoyas reeling in talent like Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, DaJuan Summers and Jason Clark while the Terrapins settle for second-tier talent such as Eric Hayes, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley and Braxton Dupree. And it clearly showed on the basketball court with this game not even being competitive. Still, Maryland showed they’re capable in their shocking victory over Michigan State and Georgetown could be pointing to this convincing win in March.

Top Five Player Performances

1. James Harden– He doesn’t wow you with his leaping ability or blazing speed or strong frame. Heck, he even looks kind of dorky with the long tee-shirt he wears under his Arizona State uniform. But James Harden can definitely play basketball, and if Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough and Stephen Curry didn’t exist, Harden would be Player of the Year. He dropped 32 points on Baylor in a loss and followed it up with 40 in a blowout win over NCAA caliber UTEP, hitting six threes.

2. Kyle McAlarney– Remember his shooting display in Maui against North Carolina? He decided to perform an encore in front of the home fans on Sunday, collecting 32 points on nine threes in the win over Furman. In his last two games, McAlarney has shot 35 threes and made over 50% of them. They’ll need McAlarney to keep shooting the lights out with Luke Harangody sidelined with pneumonia.

3. A.J. Slaughter– In the absolute #1 shocker of the month of November, Western Kentucky flat out dominated #3 Louisville on a neutral floor. This isn’t last years Sweet 16 Hilltopper team, either. Most of the top scorers from that team have departed. A.J. Slaughter played more of a secondary role last year, but certainly looked like a star in the victory, compiling 25 points and 9 rebounds on 8/15 shooting.

4. Sam Young– Mentioned him before in the Legends recap, but Young is the early frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year. He dropped 33 on Belmont, followed it up with 24 in a win over Texas Tech, and then led the way with 15 and 8 against tough Washington State. With Levance Fields also playing well and looking healthy, Pittsburgh is to be feared.

5. Jodie Meeks– Meeks has been flat out unstoppable early for Kentucky. He’s averaging 25.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, shooting 38% from three and 88% from the line. And he’s been to the line often, hitting 23/25 from the charity stripe in Las Vegas over the weekend, most in high-leverage situations. Meeks turned the ball over nine times against Kansas State, but totaled 37 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for the Horse Trailer. Meeks personally told me he is honored.

Five Upset Specials

1. Western Kentucky 68, Louisville 54: If somebody told you he/she saw this coming, they are a liar. In just the third game of the season for the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino, they were the victims of the most shocking upset of the year to date. Western Kentucky effectively double-teamed Samardo Samuels and caused all kinds of havoc for Louisville guards Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee, who combined to go 0/13 from the floor, 0/9 from three, score 2 points while dishing out 2 assists with 4 turnovers. Yikes. Louisville got three-happy like they often do, shooting 30 from deep and making 6. Earl Clark is showing no signs he wants to be one of the premiere players in college hoops. A reprehensible loss for Louisville.

2. Dayton 89, Marquette 75: Another Big East contender to fall on Saturday was Marquette, losing to upstart Dayton in Chicago in a game where they were thoroughly outplayed. The Flyers used their quickness and a career performance from reserve guard Rob Lowery (21 points) to stun the Golden Eagles and improve to 6-0. Once again, Marquette played no defense, an obvious concern for Buzz Williams. They allowed an Atlantic 10 team to shoot 53% and shoot 39 free throws, while Dominic James continues to regress jump shooting wise.

3. Drake 68, New Mexico 62: The Lobos were supposed to be taking over right about now under coach Steve Alford. Instead he fell in both games at Cancun over the weekend to VCU and Drake, the latter being the more shocking and disappointing. New Mexico even held Drake’s main scorer, Josh Young, to 10 points on 2/10 from the floor and still lost the game, falling behind by as much as 16 in the second half. They’ll need to win the Mountain West now for a tournament bid at 3-4.

4. Cal State Fullerton 92, Charlotte 84: This one isn’t a huge upset (CSF was only a 3-point dog), but Charlotte and coach Bobby Lutz are currently on a major down spiral, finishing last in the Anaheim Classic with this loss and dropping to 1-6 on the season. They looked like at least an NIT contender nearly downing Clemson earlier in the week before losing heartbreakers to Providence and Cal State Fullerton and receiveing a walloping from Arizona State. Can they possibly recover from this?

5. Green Bay 84, Massachusetts 67: Speaking of bad A-10 teams, how about Massachusetts? They have talented players like Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris, but it clearly isn’t materializing at this point for new coach Derrek Kellogg. Most of all they can’t play defense, letting Green Bay have six players in double figures in a performance that dropped the Minutemen to 1-4 on the season.

Bubblicious Wins

  • Texas Tech over Mississippi State at the Legends Classic was a big win for coach Pat Knight and one to possibly place on the resume come March if the Red Raiders are sitting on the bubble
  • Texas A&M taking down MAC contender Kent State on a neutral floor was a nice win for Mark Turgeon and Co. after losing to Tulsa
  • Don’t look now, but Nebraska is still undefeated! They beat MVC favorite Creighton in a hotly contested game over the weekend.
  • Illinois is still undefeated, too. They topped Tulsa who beat A&M the day before.
  • Florida State with two very impressive wins over California and Cincinnati in Las Vegas. The opposite for UNLV, who lost to both of those teams and are now looking weak for an at-large, even with the win at UTEP earlier in the week. Wink Adams went 5/26 with three assists in the two losses.
  • Saint Mary’s looked overwhelmed in their loss to UTEP on Thursday but rebounded with a couple quality victories over Providence and Cal State Fullerton
  • Nevada lost to Portland and is off to a horrific start to the season. Brandon Fields is still trying to get himself into the flow of the offense.

Enjoy the ACC/Big Ten Challenge everyone!

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The Day After: Old Spice Classic Recap (Day 1)

Posted by Zach on November 28, 2008

Maryland Michigan St Basketball

LIVE from Orlando! (actually my living room, but we can pretend)

What did we learn from Day One of the Old Spice Classic? Tennessee is for real, Georgetown can’t shoot, Maryland and Oklahoma State could be in the hunt for a bid after all, Purdue may be the class of the Big Ten rather than Michigan State, Wichita State is no walkover and Gonzaga may be slightly overrated.

Here are my recaps/analysis:

#12 Tennessee 78, Siena 64
: I expected the first game of the Old Spice Classic between Tennessee and Siena to be competitive with the veteran and tournament tested Saints giving the younger Vols all they could handle. I definitely underestimated the size, strength and athleticism of a Tennessee team that used returnees like Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and Brian Williams and additions like impressive point guard Bobby Maze, Renaldo Woolridge (who is a great addition because his shooting can extend the floor and create more room for Smith and Chism to operate) and Scotty Hopson to dominate the mid-major Siena. This was a great test for the Saints, whom I still feel will come away with two wins in this tournament and contend for an undefeated season in the MAAC. They won’t play a team as athletic and talented as Tennessee the rest of the way. The Vols forced Siena into taking mid-range jumpers instead of the dribble-drive penetration to the hoop that made Siena so successful at the end of the last season. Taking Kenny Hansbrouck out of his game (1-10 FG, 6 points) and containing both Franklin and Ubiles from starting a run was huge for Tennessee. Worth noting that Ryan Rossiter held his own with 12 and 12 down low for the Saints.

#16 Georgetown 58, Wichita State 50
: Georgetown was very unimpressive in their squeaker over Wichita State in the second game of the Old Spice Classic. They allowed Wichita State to hang around most of the first half, the Shockers actually cut the lead to one in the second, then Georgetown secured a close win by hunkering down defensively and DaJuan Summers finally coming out of his shell to hit some clutch threes. Wichita State is a very young team predicted to finish near the bottom of the MVC, but we may have to re-evaluate that standing. Gregg Marshall is a very good coach and he successfully confused Georgetown offensively mixing up the zone and man-to-man, often causing the Hoyas empty possessions by swinging the ball around the perimeter and eventually either turning it over or throwing up a poor shot. In the end though, the Shockers just didn’t have talent to match Georgetown, who may be worse in the Big East than projected. They play stout defense like you’d expect a JTIII team to do, but their offense is stagnant, they’re a poor outside shooting team, and don’t really have any dominant force to rely on. Monroe is efficient in the post, runs the floor like a gazelle and has a smooth stroke at the foul line, but he’s more of a secondary player on a second weekend tournament team. I know it’s one game, but with a loaded Big East, the Hoyas could find themselves near the bubble. They could change that tomorrow by upsetting Tennessee.

Maryland 80, #6 Michigan State 62
: Wow. What a tremendous win for the Terps and Gary Williams, the kind of win that gets you into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday as opposed to barely missing the cut. Maryland completely outplayed Michigan State in the fashion you’d expect an underdog Gary Williams team to do. Thanks to Goran Suton and his injured knee, Maryland’s weak frontline actually out-rebounded Michigan State during this game, shot 47% from three and received a great performance from throwback Dave Neal, the lone senior on the squad. The real difference came at the foul line, where the Spartans shot just 44% at 12/27 while Maryland shot at 81%. Another key was Raymar Morgan entrenched in foul trouble the entire game, only managing four shots and scoring four points, with coach Tom Izzo visibly frustrated with his inconsistent play. Vasquez, Hayes, Mosley and Bowie were all great for a Maryland team that really put it together last night. Could they make a run through this tournament like they did in the ACC Tournament a few years ago?

#10 Gonzaga 83, Oklahoma State 71:
The Zags avoided the upset bug and pulled out a hard-fought victory from an Oklahoma State team that could be dangerous in the Big 12 this season. They’ve got incredible athletes in Eaton, Harris, Anderson and Muonelo, can shoot the ball very well from deep, and constantly push the tempo in Travis Ford’s offense, looking to wear the opposition down late in the second half. And that may work on a few occasions in the Big 12, but having absolutely zero post presence may mean NIT rather than NCAA. Overall, I was impressed by the Cowboys effort last night, especially super sophomore James Anderson, and they should give Michigan State a run for their money. As for Gonzaga, I thought the key play in the game was Ira Brown snagging an offensive rebound and drawing Anderson’s fourth foul about midway through the second half. Brown gave them great energy off the pine and may take all of Sacre’s minutes sooner than later. Daye showed a nice stroke from the outside, Downs contributed with 12 rebounds and Pargo provided senior leadership and clutch shots in crunch time. The only Achilles heel I can see for Gonzaga is their ability to stop people on defense and it may ultimately lead to their downfall. Matt Bouldin I also thought was very shaky; they need him as their fourth weapon behind Pargo, Heytvelt and Daye.

Anaheim Classic First Round

  • UTEP dominated St. Mary’s 75-62 behind 20 points from Randy Culpepper who completely outplayed Patty Mills
  • #24 Wake Forest edged a competitive Cal State Fullerton squad 75-69 with Jeff Teague notching 24 points
  • #14 Arizona State dominated Charlotte in the second half to win 84-56 with Jeff Pendergraph scoring 23 and grabbing 10 boards
  • Baylor took care of Providence with ease- 72-56- leading from the very tip and will play Arizona State in a great 2nd round game

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day: Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State

Day Two analysis from two games- Georgetown vs. Tennessee and Gonzaga vs. Maryland (possibly Michigan State vs. Oklahoma State depending on if I’m still home)- coming tomorrow.

Posted in Non-Conference Tournaments, The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ten Bold Predictions For 2008-09

Posted by Zach on November 10, 2008

We have arrived.

My equally obsessive passion- baseball- kept me occupied long enough over the summer to avoid thinking about how much I miss college basketball. As my team’s season ended with a sharp groundball to Aki Iwamura in mid-October, my mind immediately transforms into one completely transfixes with counting the hours, minutes, seconds until the squeak of the sneakers against the college basketball hardwood. Tonight, the Cameron Indoor Stadium doors open, the Crazies will paint their faces and Coach K will patrol the sidelines. I know it’s only Presbyterian, it doesn’t matter one iota to me. A real college hoops game will be played tonight and that’s more than enough to keep me going through the bitter cold of the winter.

We’ve done our best to get our readers prepared for the journey ahead. With bracketology, major conference previews, Top 25’s, breakout players, predictions, summer roundups and instant reactions to breaking news, we hope our little experiment called Northwestern Wins has been a decent read for you, the fans that have longed for the opening jump ball as much as we have. Hopefully you’ll make your way back here during the regular season. We have plenty in store. So tie up those Adidas, Gerald Henderson, and let the season begin.

Here are ten bold predictions that we could see in 2008-09:

1. Virginia Tech will be the firmest ACC challenge for North Carolina- The Heels were pushed to the brink in last year’s ACC Tournament by the Hokies, who return everyone of note besides Deron Washington. Seth Greenberg’s team plays the best defense in the ACC and feature talented players like Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassallo. Blacksburg isn’t an easy place to win for any opponent, and these two teams face off late in the seaosn (March 4). Virginia Tech, not Duke or Wake or Miami, will give the Tar Heels their toughest fight during ACC play.

2. Memphis will lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament- John Calipari’s team certainly has the talent assembled, but I see a combination of mostly role players with limited upside. Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, Shawn Taggart, Angel Garcia and Willie Kemp are perfect role players around stars like Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose, but can they be the centerpieces? Tyreke Evans could mold into something special very soon, but he’s no Derrick Rose. They also turn the ball over enough to make John Calipari’s head explode and nobody can shoot free throws.

3. Siena will defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse– Led by Edwin Ubiles, Kenny Hansbrouck and Alex Franklin, three players who scored 15+ PPG last season, Siena will be the top mid-major in college basketball this season. They return nearly everyone from their 4-13 win over Vanderbilt last March, and the Saints will finally receive national recognition when they take down Kansas on the road January 6. Look for them to go undefeated in the MAAC, as well.

4. The Big East will get 10 teams in the tourney– I’ve made this prediction before, but the Big East is strong enough where a 8-10 Providence team could be the last team in. Barring some major disappointments, the nine teams ahead of Providence in the preseason should push their way into the field. The Friars added the National Coach of the Year and have plenty of scoring. Ten teams from one conference will happen.

5. Gonzaga will reach the Final Four- If Austin Daye finally plays up to his potential, Gonzaga will be playing into April. They have the explosiveness of Jeremy Pargo, the scoring of Micah Downs and Matt Bouldin, the three-point shooting of Stephen Gray, and the inside game of Daye and Josh Heytvelt. They’ll be tested in a brutal non-conference schedule along with San Diego and Saint Mary’s in the WCC.

6. Someone will emerge in the Duke frontcourt- Whether it’s Mason Plumlee, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek or Kyle Singler becoming more of an inside force, the Blue Devils will finally have someone to lean on in the paint when March rolls around. My money’s on Singler- he gained 20 pounds of bulk over the summer in preparation for lasting through ACC play. Thomas may finally break out of his shell.

7. Iman Shumpert will win ACC Rookie of the Year– Shumpert will be the centerpiece of the Jackets offense (especially now with Clinch suspended due to academics) from the opening tip. He has the skills to outlast Aminu, Davis, Zeller, Williams, Jones, Singleton and the rest for the honor.

8. Indiana will not win a Big Ten game this season- Not one. Not even over Iowa, Northwestern or Michigan. Look at that roster. It would barely survive in the Horizon League.

9. Connecticut will defeat North Carolina in the title game– I love the way UConn, at full strength, matches up with the Heels. Thabeet can frustrate Hansbrough down low, Price matches up well with Lawson containing his speed, Austrie/Dyson can hold Ellington from getting too many open looks, and the Huskies are nearly as deep as North Carolina. It’s not like Jim Calhoun will be outcoached, either.

10. Duke will lose to Presbyterian tonight– On second thought, I’m not that bold.

Posted in Predictions | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

West Coast Conference Preview

Posted by Patrick on October 14, 2008

A conference that had enjoyed little parody in past seasons was chock full of just that in 2007-08. The WCC, which is looked at as a one man race almost every year, had three teams in the NCAA tournament for the first time in its existence (the surprise team being San Diego, who went on to upset Connecticut in the first round). This year it’s very possible that this conference could have those same three teams back in the NCAA, and it will once again be a tight race for the top spot in the WCC.

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs- How do you pick against Gonzaga? Jeremy Pargo is one of the top point guards in the nation. Austin Daye and Steven Gray, both stellar freshman, have another year of experience under their belts. Matt Bouldin is a major force at shooting guard, Josh Heytvelt looks to be back at 100%, and then throw in the supporting cast: Micah Downs, Robert Sacre, and freshmen Demetri Goodson and Grant Gibbs. Not only is this team the cream of the crop in the WCC, but they are also a Final Four candidate.

2. San Diego Toreros- This team didn’t lose one player from last year’s roster that upset UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Led by guard Brandon Johnson and forward Gyno Pomare, I believe that San Diego will sneak into the top 25 throughout the season and probably get an at-large bid to the tourney. Bill Grier showed that he is a great coach, and supporting players Trumaine Johnson, Devin Ginty, and Rob Jones will also be major contributors on the court. San Diego has a hard non-conference schedule: at UNLV, vs. Oregon, at Mississippi State and they will be partaking in the Paradise Jam Tournament.

3. Saint Mary’s Gaels- Don’t sleep on the Gaels. Sure, they started the year strong and wilted at the end but they still are a force to be reckoned with and are returning a large portion of their roster. Patrick Mills, Diamon Simpson, Omar Samhan, and Ian O’Leary are all back and they can lead this team to a possible WCC title. To do that they need supporting players to step up in big games. Some publications have even picked Saint Mary’s ahead of Gonzaga, such as Blue Ribbon which has Saint Mary’s 19th and Gonzaga at 21st. I won’t go quite that far, but I do believe that Saint Mary’s will be back in the NCAA tournament in 2009.

4. San Francisco Dons- This is where you see a major drop-off in terms of depth. The WCC is a three team league, and no other team can contend with Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga’s, and San Diego’s depth. San Francisco is close, but only because they have a stellar player in Dior Lowhorn, one of the most underrated players in the nation. However, he won’t be enough to top any of the top three when it comes to tournament time.

5. Santa Clara Broncos- This team gave the Zags some trouble last season, but they lost a lot of players to graduation. The only player that can make noise on this team is John Bryant, who can be a force in the post.

6. Pepperdine Waves- Led by Sophomore Tyrone Shelley, an explosive guard, this team could upset somebody if they learned how to play defense.

7. Portland Pilots- Once again this proves how bad the WCC is at the bottom. Nik Raivio is the only player that the Pilots have to offer for opposing defenses.

8. Loyola Marymount Lions- Had a very rough season last year, and won’t be anywhere near the top this season.

WCC First Team:

G- Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga- Player of the Year)

G- Brandon Johnson (San Diego)

G- Patrick Mills (Saint Mary’s)

F- Gyno Pomare (San Diego)

F- Dior Lowhorn (San Francisco)

F- Austin Daye (Gonzaga)

F- Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga)

F- Omar Samhan (Saint Mary’s)

F- Diamon Simpson (Saint Mary’s)

c- John Bryant (Santa Clara)

Coach of the Year- Mark Few (Gonzaga)

Newcomer of the Year- Roberto Mafras (San Diego)

Posted in Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Daye Does Not Tear ACL; Will Miss Only 3 Weeks

Posted by Zach on July 18, 2008

UPDATE 7/18: So that report Austin Daye partially tore his ACL?

Not true. Pat, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

According to Andy Katz, Daye does not have a torn ACL, will not require surgery, and will miss only three weeks with a bone bruise and a minor, low-grade tear. Daye will now strengthen his leg with rest the next few weeks before returning to practice and will be able to play in all of Gonzaga’s regular season contests.

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At first, we thought he just pulled a hamstring at LeBron James Skills Camp last week. Turns out the injury is much more serious for sophomore star Austin Daye of Gonzaga- partially torn ACL. A precautionary MRI taken showed Daye’s injury to be much more concerning than just an injured hamstring tendon. Gonzaga fans can at least be thankful the ACL wasn’t completely torn, resulting in a lost season for Daye and his draft stock essentially falling through the roof. A timetable for his return is unknown at this point, but a rough estimate calls for Daye to be at full strength by conference season. Unfortunately for the Zags, often their non-conference slate is more important for their tournament seeding, and this year it features UConn, Memphis, Tennessee and Arizona, now without Daye at the four.

Recruiting update: Pittsburgh just received a committment from power forward Dante Taylor out of National Christian High in Maryland. Taylor is ranked as the sixth best PF in the class of 2009 by Scout.com and received a five-star rank. Taylor could be Pitt’s third high school All-American in their team’s history. Taylor chose Pitt over Syracuse, Kansas, Memphis and West Virginia. Great coup for Jamie Dixon.

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