October 31, 2009

Preseason AP Poll

1. Kansas
2. Michigan St.
3. Texas
4. Kentucky
5. Villanova
6. North Carolina
7. Purdue
8. West Virginia
9. Duke
10. Tennessee
11. Butler
12. UConn
13. California
14. Washington
15. Michigan
16. Ohio St.
17. Oklahoma
18. Mississippi St.
19. Louisville
20. Georgetown
21. Dayton
22. Georgia Tech
23. Illinois
24. Clemson
25. Minnesota

26. Maryland
27. Siena
28. Notre Dame
29. Florida St.
30. Vanderbilt
31. Syracuse
32. Oklahoma St.
33. UCLA
34. Florida
35. Wake Forest
36. Xavier
37. Gonzaga
38. South Carolina
39. Kansas St.
40. BYU
41. N. Iowa
42. Tulsa
43. Mississippi
44. Texas A&M
45. Missouri
46. Boston College
47. Pittsburgh
48. W. Kentucky
49. Utah St.
50. VCU
51. ODU
52. Holy Cross

October 29, 2009

Pre-Season Coaches Poll

So its finally that time of the year again, the excitement is palpable. College Basketball has arrived. Today, ESPN released the Pre-Season Coaches Poll, here are the rankings:

Top 25
1. Kansas
2. Michigan St.
3. Texas
4. North Carolina
5. Kentucky
6. Villanova
7. Purdue
8. Duke
9. West Virginia
10. Butler
11. Tennessee
12. California
13. Washington
14. UConn
15. Michigan
16. Oklahoma
17. Ohio St.
18. Minnesota
19. Mississippi St.
20. Georgia Tech
21. Georgetown
22. Dayton
23. Louisville
24. Clemson
25. Syracuse

Others Receiving Votes:
26. Maryland
27. Illinois
28. Siena
29. UCLA
30. Vanderbilt
31. Oklahoma St.
32. Missouri
33. Xavier
34. Gonzaga
35. Notre Dame
36. USC
37. Pittsburgh
38. Tulsa
39. Kansas St.
40. BYU
41. Florida St.
42. Florida
43. Wake Forest
44. San Diego St.
45. Creighton
46. Boston College
47. Texas A&M
48. S. Illinois
49. Utah St.
50. Cornell
51. Memphis
52. Mississippi
53. UNLV
54. South Carolina
55. N. Iowa

As you can see the Zags have some ground to make up, but i fully anticipate this squad to get it together and move into the rankings at some point this year.

October 26, 2009

2009-10 Gonzaga Preview

To order the complete 2009-10 edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Last Season 28-6 (.824)
Conference Record 14-0 (1st)
Starters (Lost/Returning) 4/1
Coach Mark Few (Oregon '87)
Record At School 264-66 (10 years)
Career Record 264-66 (10 years)
RPI Last 5 years 12/11/67/36/21


Over the years, Gonzaga has epitomized a sports cliché: this is a team that doesn't rebuild, it reloads.

The Zags have made 12 straight NCAA trips -- including last year's run to the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual champion North Carolina -- and since 2000, coach Mark Few and company have compiled an .800 winning percentage, trailing only Duke and Kansas among NCAA Division I programs.

But this year, the Zags could reasonably be described as "rebuilding" after losing more talent than anybody in the NCAA, save for maybe those champion Tar Heels. Five seniors graduated from the program, and forward Austin Daye (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg), an honorable-mention All-WCC selection last year, left school after two years and was the 15th pick of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.

The departed seniors include forward Josh Heytvelt (14.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg), a first-team All-WCC pick last year who put together a strong senior season after two years riddled by injuries and a suspension; guard Jeremy Pargo (10.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.9 apg), the WCC Player of the Year in 2008 and an honorable-mention all-conference pick last year; guard Micah Downs (9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who transitioned from a scoring threat off the bench to a do-it-all wing last year and was the MVP of the WCC Tournament; forward Ira Brown (2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg), a big, active body who played nearly 10 minutes a game; and senior guard Andrew Sorenson (2.1 ppg), who provided occasional three-point shooting off the bench.

That's 65 percent of the Zags' scoring and 63 percent of their rebounding last year, and that's a handful to replace. But Few is relying on the fact that he's been through the rebuilding/reloading process before, and that 12-year NCAA streak points to how successfully he's handled the task.

"We've had years where we've been through situations like this, and guys who've been in the program stepped up in more dominant roles, and the new guys who came into the program really did a great job of stepping into their roles," Few said. "We're definitely going to need that this year."

The Zags finished last season ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, peaking at No. 4 (AP) in early December before consecutive losses to Connecticut, Portland State and Utah threatened to derail their season. But they rallied to turn in an undefeated conference season -- their third in six years -- and their only loss the rest of the way was against No. 14 Memphis at Spokane Arena. After coasting to a WCC Tournament title, the Zags earned the No. 4 seeding in the South Regional and beat Akron and Western Kentucky to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.

Now the bulk of the talent that has carried Gonzaga the last few years is gone, but don't expect to hear Few bemoaning his fate.

"I've got a great job," he said. "I love what I'm doing. Every year is totally different. I don't think we'll have the burden of these high expectations that we've had, last year and other years when we've had a top-5 or top-10 preseason ranking.

"But this is it. It's a good crew. We've got guys who were recruited to come to Gonzaga, so they should be up to the standard."


The standard-bearer for the Zags this year will be 6-5 senior guard Matt Bouldin (13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg), who blossomed into a first-team All-WCC pick last year by doing a little bit of everything and all of it well. Playing a team-high 31.8 minutes per game, Bouldin shot .489 from the floor, including .424 from behind the arc on a team-leading 53 three-pointers.

He scored his 1,000th career point last year, and also finished fourth in WCC in assists, even while playing next to Pargo, who led the conference in that category.

Still, that's a statistical feat Few hopes won't be repeated this year, now that Bouldin won't be playing with so many other scoring threats. "He's kind of deferred to them at times," Few said, referring to Bouldin's now-departed teammates. "There are going to be more opportunities [to score] this year just because there are fewer assertive personalities that he might defer to.

"He had a great year last year for us -- I think he was far and away our most consistent player and probably our MVP. He probably should have been the MVP of the league, but we had so much balance on our team, and I think that hurt [his chances of winning the award]. He had a phenomenal year last year, and hopefully he'll come back and have another year like that this year."

The Zags are also counting on 6-4 junior guard Steven Gray (9.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg) to come into his own. Known mostly for his long-range shooting in his first two years, Gray was an honorable-mention All-WCC pick last year after hitting 50 three-pointers and playing 27 minutes a game, mostly off the bench.

He showed flashes of his scoring potential, most notably against No. 2 Connecticut, when he dropped in 23 points and added seven boards and four assists. But like Bouldin, Gray will be expected to shoulder more of the scoring burden than every before this year.

"I think we're going to be counting on him more, to where he can't take a game off for us," Few said. "In years past, maybe when he didn't do as much, Micah played well or Austin scored the ball well. But Steven can score the ball well and shoot, and he's going to need to do that night in and night out."

The Zags' new point guard, 5-11 sophomore Demetri Goodson (3.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.6 apg), gained valuable experience backing up Pargo last year, but he took a starring role on the game's biggest stage when he hit a last-second shot to beat Western Kentucky put the Zags into the Sweet 16. It's telling that among the three freshmen in the program, Goodson was the only one who saw the court with that veteran crew, and now he's in line to take over as the next great Gonzaga point guard.

"Guys kind of serve their apprenticeship here, and he was brought in here for that purpose," Few said. "That was the plan, and now it's his time, so he'll put his own unique stamp on it, just like Pargo was vastly different from [Derek] Ravio, who was vastly different from [Blake] Stepp, who was vastly different from [Dan] Dickau and [Matt] Santangelo, and on down the line."

Up front, the Zags welcome back 7-0 sophomore center Robert Sacre (3.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg), who took a medical redshirt after suffering a foot injury five games into the sea-son. At 250 pounds, the Vancouver native is one of the few true big men with any experience on the roster.

"We're really counting on Rob," Few said. "He wasn't going to redshirt [last year] until he got hurt. He was playing pretty darn well, and then that happened. I think Rob is certainly a primary guy for us, and he's had a great off-season, so I hope he stays healthy, because he's going to have a really good year."

Sacre will be joined up front by 7-4 senior center Will Foster (1.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg) -- a "project" big man who blocked 17 shots but played only 6.8 minutes a night because of his limited mobility -- and 6-11 freshman forward Andy Poling (17.5 ppg, Westview HS/Portland, Ore.), a redshirt who's more of an inside-outside threat than a low-post player.

Other veterans in the backcourt include 5-11 senior guard Chris Pontarolo-Maag (0.4 ppg, 0.3 rpg), a walk-on who made the team last year after falling short in tryouts the previous two years; red-shirt 6-5 freshman Grant Gibbs (13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, Lin-Mar HS/Marion, Iowa), a gritty shooting guard with good ball skills; and 6-5 freshman Michael Hart, a walk-on who was a second-team all-metro pick last year at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore.

As usual, Few's recruiting class is loaded with talent, led by 6-10 freshman wing Kelly Olynyk (35.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg), the captain for Canada's U-19 national team. Olynyk was the Basketball B.C. player of the year after leading South Kamloops to a 36-2 record and a third-place finish in the provincial Class AAA tournament in March, where he averaged 36.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in four games.

Olynyk then joined Team Canada and was the MVP at the Douai World Junior Basketball Tournament in France before helping Canada tie its best finish ever at the FIBA World Championships, averaging 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds including a game-high 14 boards as Canada defeated France to take the seventh-place game.

"Kelly is an exceptional shooter and ball-handler and will provide both an inside and outside presence for us," Few said. "He played point guard in high school and has great court awareness. He continues to develop his game and improve his skills."

Olynyk will be joined by his teammate at the Basketball Canada Elite Development Academy, 6-5 freshman forward Mangisto Arop, a native of the Sudan who now hails from Hamilton, Ontario. Arop, who once set an Academy scoring record with a 42-point game, also starred at the FIBA World Championships, where he averaged 16.2 points, ninth best in the tournament, and 5.3 rebounds.

"Manny is a high-energy player with a great competitive streak," Few said. "His skill level is something to be excited about. He has a great opportunity to be effective for us at both ends of the court."

Help down low arrives in the form of 6-9 freshman post Sam Dower (24.6 ppg, 12.0 rpg) from Osseo (Minn.) High School, who turned down Minnesota, Marquette and Cal to sign with the Zags.

"He can score for a big guy. He's a lefty, so that makes it harder to defend because most people aren't used to seeing a lefthander," Few said. "He can make a difference and is a unique post player."

The international surge continues with 6-7 freshman forward Elias Harris (22.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg) from BIS Baskets Speyer in Germany. Harris is a physical player and a good leaper who can shoot the three and has inside-outside potential. He was chosen the rookie of the year in the German Pro B league in 2008, and he'll turn 20 before his first game with the Zags, so he'll be much more mature than most freshmen.

"He's played on the senior national team, which is a very high level of basketball," Few said. "I think he can help us, especially after losing Austin at that position."

Gonzaga filled out its freshman class with 5-11 guard G.J. Vilarino (21.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) from McKinney (Texas) High School, the 26th-ranked point guard in the country according to Scout.com. Vilarino had originally committed to Kentucky but changed his mind after coach Billy Gillispie was fired.

"G.J. is athletic and very fast with the ball," Few said. "I think it certainly gives us some depth in the backcourt. Hopefully he'll be able to push Goodson throughout the year."



Yes, they've lost a ton of talent, and yes, the WCC is deeper. But this is still Gonzaga's conference, and until somebody unseats the Zags, it's going to be tough to bet against them.

Bouldin is the odds-on pick for the league's player-of-the-year award, and Gray should emerge as a 20-point threat every night. If Sacre can stay healthy and the freshmen get up to speed quickly, look for the Zags to be cutting down the nets in Las Vegas once again.

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 334 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2009-10 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.

October 23, 2009

Huskies Vs. Bulldogs?

It looks like Lorenzo Romar is finally coming to his senses and has offered Gonzaga a 3 year deal to play the Zags...Wait...Its only to be played at KeyArena?...What?...Are they freaking kidding?...The deal would be a boon for UW, and it would be as if the Bulldogs were coming back to town with their tails between their legs. Do the Huskies realize that they were the ones who canceled this series to begin with? This makes no sense for a program of Gonzaga's stature.

Coach Few was quoted as saying, "The chances of that happening are about the same as Big Foot having my baby," Few said. "That's like me saying, Gonzaga proposes a five-year deal at Spokane Arena. There, I just made a proposal. That's as logical as this deal [would be]. The series should start in Spokane because Washington canceled the series," Few said. "If they want to do a home-and-home, that's fine. If they don't, let's all move on. We have some incredible home-and-home deals right now with Wake [Forest], Michigan State and Xavier. We're doing a deal with Oklahoma. We have plenty of games, so it's not that important for us to play Washington. When they pulled out, I was totally, unequivocally cool with it. Scheduling is hard," Few said. "We've been down this road many times before. This decision will be made between myself, Lorenzo and the two athletic directors. It won't get done through the media."

While i think it would amazing to restart this storied rivalry, i definitely agree with Coach Few, in that Gonzaga would be stupid for allowing Washington to set the terms of this agreement. The last series that involved both schools lasted 10 seasons from 1998-2007 and Gonzaga went 8-2 during that series. I have respect for Coach Romar who turned around a program that had sunk to levels that did not befit a D-1 program, but with this recent news i have to say that this proposal is ludicrous, any three year agreement would have to look like this:

@ Gonzaga (K2)
@ Washington (Key Arena)
@ Gonzaga (Spokane Arena)

The reason i like this format is that UW admits they were the ones who ruined the rivalry and gives Gonzaga 2 Home games out of the three year agreement and more importantly 1 of those games at the Kennel. Finally they do us one last favor by Taking their home game to the Key Arena, making it a 50-50 ticket split, thus making the game a Semi-Neutral Battle in Seattle. This is the only format i think Gonzaga should even consider, or like Coach Few said, stay with the games we already have which are far more lucrative and appealing to the University.

October 22, 2009


This Saturday Night...Lets kick this season off right! GO ZAGS!

In other Zag News...Zags voted Top Team in WCC by Coaches 6-2...Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray named to WCC Preseason All-Conference Team...Bol Kong/Kelly Olynyk/Manny Arop/Elias Harris are finally on Campus hoopin it up, cant wait to see the Foreign Stars in Action...Jeremy Pargo will be playing in Israel this year, lets hope he can earn some valuable experience and get to the NBA soon...