March 27, 2013

Guest Article by Tim Mackin: Gonzaga Needs to Make a Change

*Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series, “Guest Writers” written for Zagaholic by Tim Mackin. I have known him for several years. He loves the Zags and bleeds red & blue like most of us. The season ending loss to Wichita State was heartbreaking and has affected Zag fans in profound ways. He has written down some of his thoughts about the season. Enjoy the read.

By Tim Mackin-

I want to start by quoting Murray Kempton: “Critics are those who ride down the hill after the battle has been fought to shoot the wounded."

That being said, I will point out that Gonzaga was not beaten by a better team. We simply did not play our game, and we didn't look like we wanted to be there anymore.

Another set of stats I found: Davidson 50% ('08), North Carolina 58% ('09), Syracuse 48% ('10), BYU 50% ('11), Ohio State 38% ('12), and Wichita St 50% ('13).

In case you were wondering (though most of you have probably guessed it), those were the 3pt percentages of the last six teams to dispatch the Zags from the tournament. I thought there was something different about this team... I really did... but apparently the lesson still has not been learned. Gonzaga had everything it took to get over the hill. We even had a path paved in gold. But, we buckled under pressure (yet again) when it all was put on the line. I can sit here and point fingers all I want, I know I haven't played the game at this level... but something has to be done if we expect to accomplish anything more than what we have already.

March 23, 2013

Scouting The Shockers

Wichita State Shockers
Wichita, KS
27-8, 9th Seed
Coach Gregg Marshall
1-0 alltime versus Gonzaga

The Shockers are the 2nd seed out of the Missouri Valley Conference. They spent a good portion of the year gelling together and starting to become a better team. Their 8 losses are a little misleading, but they did struggle versus Evansville and Creighton this year.

Led by upperclassmen forwards Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall with talented guards Fred Van Vleet and Malcolm Armstead. This is a well balanced team that can play inside and outside. Keep an eye out for Center Ehimen Orukpe who patrols the paint and can block shots at a high level. They play very good defense and can shoot the ball at a high level when given the opportunity.

Against Pittsburgh on Thursday the shockers shot 52.4% from the field and were able to convert 24 of 29 opportunities at the line. It will be imperative to not allow the shockers to slow the pace of this game and keep them off the line.

March 21, 2013

Survive and Advance: Zags Scrape By Southern

Olynyk right before he gets swatted/called for a charge (AP photo Streeter Lecka)

Wow. There are a lot of choice words for what just happened but few of them are appropriate for family audiences. I had to summarize it for a friend of mine who doesn't watch basketball and  I said something like: "if I'm being completely honest, we were just incredibly unlucky. I don't think we played all that bad."

Kid President Predictions (heart warming)

If you are a Zags fan, then this video will make you grin!  GO ZAGS


Some More (Positive) Bracketology

I came across this link on SBnation and was shocked at the content. Most of the media coverage I have seen has been negative, assuming that the Zags will fall to Pitt or Wisconsin because we haven't faced a "tough" team this year. This, of course, bothers the hell out of me, mostly because it means that the people in question haven't really seen us play. Their exposure was probably the Butler game and the St. Mary's blowout, meaning they are relatively uninformed.

That said, this SBnation piece basically shows that a good number of media types are predicting that we'll make the final four. Nate Silver gave us a 33.5% chance to do so, with a 13% chance we'll make it to the finals (give me those numbers preseason and I would have punched you in the face, then taken them). It's just a reminder that while we have had our detractors, there are plenty of people in the media who like our chances.

March 20, 2013

NCAA Tourney: Zags vs. Southern Jaguars

Gonzaga whipped the Southern Jaguars the last time they met. And that is putting it kindly. The last time we faced off was two years ago in the Kennel and the final score wasn't pretty.  It was 117-72, and that was with playing our bench most of the game.

What does that have to do with this year? Not much. Back then, Southern was in the throes of an NCAA investigation involving academic scandals that almost wiped out their program. They had just begun a slide that would see them lose 24 games that season, and it ended with them in last place. But this year they finished second in their conference and won their conference tourney. They brought in a new coach, Roman Banks, and he has turned things around in a hurry.

Although they don't have much size in the paint (and that will cause problems galore for them against the Zags), they do have a pair of athletic, and long guards that are a handful. Beltran, and Miller, ave. about 16 ppg each, and go 6'4 and 6'6. Both can hit the deep ball, with Miller bombing them in at an astonishing .460! This will be a test for our somewhat diminutive veteran guards, Pangos, Bell, and Stockton, who have at times struggled with length (see: Aaron Craft, Ohio State). We'll get an early NCAA Tourney glimpse as to how they can handle what is usually thought to be their Achilles heel.

Southern also has quite a defense. They are #13 in the country allowing only 57 ppg. They are also #2 in the country in FG% defense, only allowing opponents to shoot a paltry .365. Meanwhile the Zags score about 78 ppg, good for #11 in the nation and have a fg% of just over .50%, which is good enough for a #3 ranking.

What does this all mean? It means something has to give. It's offense vs defense and David vs Goliath all wrapped up into one.

Although I am somewhat concerned about their defense, I am more interested in how our guards will hold up against Southern's long, athletic guards. But, because of our size advantage in the post, I expect our bigs to score at will, we will camp inside and make our living at the free throw line late to pull away for the fairly easy win.

These are not your fathers Jaguars.....but I still see a final score of:

Gonzaga 74    Southern  59

March 18, 2013

Scouting Salt Lake City

Well folks, it’s official. Your 2013 Gonzaga Bulldogs have received the first #1 seed in School History! Its special, and we should all be satisfied with just getting the seed right? Wrong! The rest of the nation thinks we are cute, they think we are going to lay down and accept defeat like we always do to a more qualified team. I’m here to say that this can’t happen. This is our year; this is our chance to challenge not just for a trip to Atlanta but for our first NCAA championship.

So lets take a look at our potential run to Los Angeles, here is our Sweet 16 bracket:


Wichita St.

For this purpose lets assume Ole Miss and Boise St./LaSalle lose their respective contests.

Southern is not an awful 16 seed, not nearly as bad as some might assume. they actually rank 2nd nationally in Field goal defense at 36.5% and are led by the upperclassmen backcourt tandem of Derick Beltran and Malcolm Miller who combine for 32 of the teams 68 points per game or roughly 47% of the scoring. That being said i see this one as a fairly easy contest for the Zags, we should be able to shut down that backcourt and win pretty handedly. Final Score Gonzaga 86 Southern 52.

Pittsburgh and Wichita St. is going to be a very good matchup. Both these teams are fairly even and this one could go either way, but for the purpose of picking our opponent, lets say Pittsburgh edges the Shockers, setting up a Saturday matchup with the Panthers. Pittsburgh is long, athletic, and they love to use pressure defense to create opportunities in the fast break. This is a tough matchup for the Zags, this is the type of team that we will struggle with. We should be able to handle a team like Pittsburgh if we are to make a deep run in the tourney. Final Score Gonzaga 67 Pittsburgh 62