Good Wins: sweep of Tennessee, sweep of St. Mary’s and Oklahoma State
Bad Losses: Portland State and a blowout loss to Memphis at the Spokane Civic Center
1. Putting the ball in the basket – Like a lot of previous Gonzaga teams, this season’s version can also find a way to generate offense, whether it’s in a half-court setting or create easy baskets with its defense.
2. Size – Unlike most teams in one-bid or mid-major leagues, the Gonzaga rolls out 6-foot-11 senior Josh Heytvelt and 6-foot-10 sophomore Austin Daye in its starting lineup. Going up against a BCS-front line of significance will not scare the Bulldogs and they proved that in their 88-83 overtime loss to UConn in Seattle’s Key Arena, where Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien were held to a combined 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine fouls.
3. Defense – Those who continue to question the Bulldogs toughness on the defensive end need to review these critical stats: 37-percent field goal defense (No. 2 in the country), 62.6 points per game (No. 52 in the country), and +3.3 rebound margin per game (No. 61 in the country). The numbers suggest they make it difficult to find open shots and rebound the basketball after you chuck it up.
Point guard – Jeremy Pargo may be an experienced senior, but one minute he can rev up the Bulldogs’ high-octane offense and then the next minute can drive head coach Mark Few nuts by handing the ball over to the other team or throwing it into the second row. After every Bulldogs game – you can figure out how the game went simply by looking at Pargo’s line in the box score rather than watching it on television.
Two wins. – Gonzaga is one of those teams that can make a deep run, but in critical non-conference games (UConn, Utah, Arizona and Memphis), it just seemed like something was missing. UNC would be no easy draw in the sweet 16. Nonetheless, if Daye decides to introduce himself to the country and live up to the potential he came in with last year, the Zags could have the most talented starting five of anybody in the West.