Dawgs in David/Goliath Match-up with USC

Feb 18, 2010, 6:17 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

The Huskies finally got the monkey off their back by beating Stanford on the road on Saturday 78-61. It was the 2nd straight win at Maples by the Dawgs after a drought that went all the way back to 1993. There were some very positive signs for the Dawgs who must now hope that the win showed signs of improvement and not just the result of an easy match-up. The way that UW with stood a Stanford comeback very similar to that which did in WSU two days earlier leads me to believe that they should feel that progress has been made.

Quincy Pondexter really took the team on his back in a fashion that very few players have for UW, as he answered a Stanford run that had evaporated a double digit UW advantage at half-time. It reminded me of classic senior performances like Brandon Roy at home against Arizona in his senior year and many in Jon Brockman’s record shattering senior year last season.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who has averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds over the last three games, played an important role in only 13 minutes. MBA scored 11 points and grabbed 5 important boards in that limited time frame and was a huge factor in crunch time when the Dawgs needed an imposing presence in the paint. Elston Turner also played an important role with key three pointers.

It is very important for the Dawgs to have some threat from behind the arc to balance their offensive attack which thrives on the aggressive style in which Pondexter, Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas attack the rim. With Turner and Thomas (who went 4-10 from downtown) hitting threes effectively, UW was able to beat Stanford at home. It was a team win that should give the Huskies confidence going into the crucial last stages of the season and Isaiah made that point after the game.

“It feels great, man. This game, we really played unselfish.”

That’s the good news for Dawg fans, who breathed a sigh of relief after the road win that they feared would never come. The bad news is that Stanford is a very good match-up for this year’s Husky team and USC is not. The Trojans literally stomped Washington in LA, much like the Huskies had dwarfed the Cardinal is Seattle, clearly out matching them on both ends of the court. Overton was able to out race the giant USC front court for a team leading 18 points, but Pondexter was held to a season low 2 points.

Thomas (who is on track to break the Washington career scoring record) scored 14, but much of that damage was done with the game already decided. He also scored that on 7-9 from the free throw line, scoring the other 7 points on 3-10 from the field and 1-5 from behind the arc. He was more effective than Quincy but just barely. When the game was on the line Washington small guards were worked over pretty well by the taller, more experienced and stronger Trojans.

Senior point guard Mike Gerrity was deadly in driving past those two as well as taller (but greener) Abdul Gaddy. When he got by them he dished 7 assists for demoralizing dunk after dunk to the big tall USC front court. Senior wing Marcus Johnson led the way with 22 points for USC, but Alex Stepheson added 15 and Nikola Vucevic had 11.

Those three combined for 21-32 from the field and if Washington didn’t rotate their bigs away to help with Gerrity, he was able to score, get to the line or find senior guard Dwight Lewis who scored 19. Gerrity also added 15 points including 6-8 from the free throw line. The game was not as close as the 68-71 margin of victory indicated. This USC is a veteran ball club of future pros.

The Trojans were thin at guard early in the year, but with the recent emergence of back-up guard Donte Smith who scored a dozen against the Bruins in the win on Sunday, they have enough for a solid 8-man rotation with wing Marcus Simmons and big physical Leonard Washington up front. Next year USC will lose Gerrity, Lewis and Johnson and replace them with a highly rated recruiting class and a late season addition at PG in solid Fordham transfer Jio Fontan from NYC.

It will be a challenge for Head Coach Kevin O’Neill to put as strong of a team on the floor as this year’s group, though with Fontan and freshmen like shooting guard Bryce Jones the future, possibly as soon as the 2nd half of next season looks bright for SC. Too bad for UW fans they will not be able to face that crew as this one is definitely going to be a very tall task for the Dawgs.

Much as Washington was able to squeeze out a win over a team that they match-up well with in Stanford, USC (who have struggled to a 1-6 Pac-10 road record this year) could very well do the same to Washington. A loss at this juncture would take the heart out of any hopes for the Huskies, as they must beat both USC and UCLA to stay in consideration for an NCAA Tournament invite.

With Cal a full two games ahead in the standings with 5 games to go, (3 of which are road games for UW) the chance of a 2nd straight out right Pac-10 title are miniscule. Winning the Pac-10 tourney, especially with the Dawgs track record away from Hec-Ed is also a long shot at best. Washington must win these two home games this weekend, and then somehow win 2/3 on the road at WSU, Oregon and OSU. If they then win at least one game in the Pac-10 Tourney, they would finish with a record of 22-10, which in my opinion would easily put them in the dance most years.

Unfortunately this is not ‘most years’ in the conference. That resume will be a coin flip at best this season. They would probably need to win all 5 games or 4/5 and 2 games in the league tournament to be assured of a bid. Going into the last 3 games knowing that a loss eliminates them from the dance is not a task that I believe Romar wants to undertake in keeping his team confident and motivated. Tonight’s game is going to be tough and a loss in my opinion spells doom for this year’s Husky team. It will truly be a battle similar top that of David and Goliath of the bible.

Both teams are tough on defense and on the glass. USC has the best rebounders in Vucevic (who leads the league in rebounding and defensive rebounding) and Stephenson (who leads in offensive boards). The Dawgs lead the Pac-10 in rebounding and offensive rebounds. USC leads the league in scoring defense at 56 points per game and field-goal percentage defense, while UW leads in turnover margin and are especially effective at home in disrupting on the defensive end. Percy Allen of the Seattle Times quoted FSN analyst Francis Williams in his game preview.

“In the Pac-10, USC has the closest semblance to an NBA front line, and nobody else in the conference has anything like that”

The one factor that could impact USC, as it appeared to after the self-imposed sanctions that came when they lost 5-7 games. The Trojans appear to have weathered the emotional storm as they have since won three straight, so it does not appear that they would be susceptible to a similar let down. The LA Times reported that former Head Coach Tim Floyd will be present at today’s NCAA hearing which involves the Trojan’s Men’s Basketball and Football programs.

A verdict will probably not be given, but according to the Times, “Floyd has told those close to him that he welcomes the opportunity to talk about ‘the truth’ of his USC experience in the right setting” and “The potential for a contentious NCAA hearing is ripe”.

Could it provide a distraction for USC if this thing blows up all over the news as the players prepare for the game? One thing is for certain, USC has very little to play for. The worst case scenario would appear to be additional sanctions for next year that could impact the roster next season. If USC were to be sanctioned from the post season next year, money players like Stepheson, Vucevic, Washington, Simmons and Fontan, as well as recruits like Jones could leave without penalty.

Talk of that happening could disrupt the team as early as this evening, but I doubt that anything official will happen that fast. It could actually energize a USC team that has been playing for pride and pride alone as it is over the last three rather impressive wins.

On the weekly coaches show on KJR-AM this week Romar used the term “wiggle room” to say that his team, “Just have a tad bit” if they want to make the NCAA tournament. Allen in the Times printed out some of the highlights of that show.

Tonight they have none in my opinion and it should be a battle of will. The Trojans are more mature and perhaps a bit “harder” than the Dawgs, but Hec-Ed brings out the best in this UW team. It’s going to be a very tough game for both teams and one that could make or break UW season.

The only real signature win of the non-conference season was the Texas A+M game in which UW beat the Aggies 73-64 on December 22nd 2009. That game was marred by the tragic injury to Aggie guard Derrick Roland, who suffered a brutal broken leg injury. Believe it or not Roland is talking about returning to action in the post season for A+M and Jason King of Yahoo did a very solid feature on his injury and surprising recovery.

Other than a wretched performance less than two weeks later against the Oregon Ducks at Hec-Ed, UW has had quite a home court advantage this year going 16-1 at home. Don Ruiz of the Morning News Tribune discussed this subject, quoting Bill McCabe (Pac-10 coordinator of men’s basketball officiating) among others who believe that Hec-Ed gives the Dawgs a distinct advantage.

“The toughest environment officials are working in right now is Washington – by far. It used to be Arizona. … But let me tell you, officials will tell you the tougher place now, because of the crowd really, really getting after it, is Washington. And Arizona’s still good.”

Pondexter played well on the road against Stanford, but he is certainly even better at home. Despite placing in the top-10 in virtually every offensive and defensive category and playing like a man on a mission this year with 4 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards, the Player of the Year race in the league is not yet settled. :

Rivals blogger Jeff Eisenberg picked his top-3 POY candidates in all of the major leagues and picked Quincy 2nd behind Cal’s Jerome Randle who won it last week on top of the CollegeHoops.net National Player of the Week.

It’s a close race between the two as Pondexter has had perhaps the better year, but Randle’s team has been the better of the two on top of his incredible year. At 7:30 PM (PST) Pondexter must face his greatest nemesis this year in SC’s Johnson, who held him to a single bucket in LA, while Cal and Randle face the Beavers in Corvallis. I’m sure that Q would much rather have a win over the Trojans than a game that helps him compete for that award, but it will be interesting to see how the race for Player of the Year in the Pac-10 plays out.

The drama of the Huskies’ and Pondexter’s attempt to finish strong this year are both a profile in maturation. Quincy has grown up before our eyes and improved his game in so many ways under the tutelage of Lorenzo Romar and staff, while the team is still fining itself, but making progress.

Go Huskies did a profile on Q that illustrated some of what he has accomplished in Seattle with great quotes from Pondexter and team mate Justin Holiday.

One theme that keeps coming up is the recruiting class of 2006, which included Adrian Oliver, now a star performer at San Jose State. Oliver was the subject of a Q+A piece on ESPN.com by Diamond Leung. In it he talked about his fabulous success at SJSU that though one could argue is like a big fish in a small pond is very impressive.

Oliver deflected a question about what type of team Washington could have had if he had stayed in Seattle, but admitted that it could have been pretty good.

“Sometimes you wonder, but not much. It feels like so long ago. People ask me that all the time, but it’s like what if any good recruiting class had stayed together? That’s highly unlikely. Yeah, I came in with all those guys. We could have done some great things.”

Without Quincy, not to mention a money player like Oliver or perhaps Seattle U’s Charles Garcia, Holiday as well as fellow juniors Overton and MBA will carry the torch next year as seniors. Allen in the Times did a feature on the three juniors and pointed out that all three have shown marked improvement this season.

I agree that these three, as well as Isaiah Thomas, who needs 38 points to reach 1,000 points in just two seasons, will be the leaders next year, but UW must find production where it does not currently exist. Isaiah with 962 points thus far in his career has a chance to overtake Doug Smart at 1,021 for the most points scored in his first two years in the program. Smart, who was passed by Pondexter on the career list earlier this year, only played three years as was the rule then.

Thomas is a money player and last year with two other money men in Jon Brockman and Quincy, plus a red-hot Justin Dentmon who played like one for much of the Pac-10 race, UW had the firepower to win the conference. If Venoy and Matt can catch fire like JD did, that would be great, but even if Romar found someone else who could produce consistently from his roster the fact that Quincy leads the Dawgs on the boards and is 2nd in the Pac-10 on the glass makes me feel as if help still needs to come from the recruiting trail.

A great year from the three seniors could be a big part of a great story, but the Dawgs could possibly find the offensive and rebounding production that they need more easily from a freshman or a pair of them. Tyreese Breshers could be more of a factor, but to depend on Ty, Matt and Darnell Gant to do it on their own is a very risky proposition. Romar and his staff likely feel the same way as they are actively recruiting big men, productive scoring forwards and especially those that can both score and rebound like Quincy.

Aziz N’Diaye, the JC transfer who will have three years of eligibility remaining should be there this weekend to visit Washington. In a recruiting update on KUSports.com it was confirmed by his coach at CSI that Aziz will be visiting Washington this weekend. According to the piece Aziz “Has visited Oklahoma, Oregon State and Loyola-Marymount” and “May visit KU (Kansas) in March”.

N’Diaye is seven-feet tall and according to his coach at CSI 255 lbs. and very athletic. He is known as a 1st rate shot blocker, defender and rebounder with an offensive game this is somewhat behind his defense. That could still be a major coup for UW to get him as next year’s team could feature a 3rd fearsome defender to go with Overton and Holiday and much needed help on the boards.

Another player that is expected to be there this weekend is 2010 forward prospect Terrence Ross from Portland. He has yet to be made eligible for his new team (and old team) at Jefferson High in the PDX, but according to a report in Scout Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said. “He was actually cleared to practice last Friday” and “Word on that is probably going to come in next week”.

Ross is very interested in Washington, as well as Kentucky, Oklahoma and UCLA and perhaps others according to the update in Scout. The Oregonian did a video this week in which he talked about his recruiting and his reasons for returning home to Portland. He listed his top-5, but said that he didn’t have a favorite, as Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.

Jones is rumored to also be there this weekend and a recent update in Scout said that “His list sits at five schools — Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon, UCLA and Kentucky”. The word that we’re getting is that Jones is much more likely to stay in the NW and that Oregon is dropping with what the Ducks have been doing on the court. Should the Ducks fire Head Coach Ernie Kent things could change for the better or the worse for Jones and Oregon.

One thought is that if the Ducks were to be able to get Oklahoma Head Coach Jeff Capel to take the job, he is one guy who has a great relationship with both Jones and Ross and could reel them in. Both players have been reported to have academic hurdles to deal with as well which could make it more difficult for UW to close on them. 2010 UW forward recruit Dwayne Polee is also rumored to be coming in this weekend for a visit, but we have yet to get confirmation from him.

We’ve also heard that UW soft commit 2010 center prospect Enes Kanter will visit Washington for the 1st time this weekend, but Enes or coach Derryk “Tank” Thornton could not be reached to confirm that. Kanter would be the best of both worlds for UW, as he is a rebounding and scoring machine. All things considered, if it were just down to a basketball decision, if I were UW I would take Kanter as my 1st choice of all available players in 2010.

I would take Jones 2nd as I believe that he is the best natural replacement for the things that UW loses with Quincy leaving. Aziz, I would take 3rd as I believe that rebounding and post play is the Huskies greatest need. We’ll see what the Washington coaches think this April 14th when the spring signing period for hoops starts.
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UW has become a much more desirable school on the recruiting trail. Much of the reason has been the ability of Romar and staff to turn out not only NBA draft choices, but those who have success at the next level. Nate Robinson is one of the most important success stories of the Romar era at UW. Nate has been reported to be headed to Boston and now the official word came down from the Boston Globe that he is finally a Celtic.

I find this amusing now that he and a leprechaun mascot are on the same team, as Robinson has a lot in common with the “little green men”. He has an other-worldly aura around him to go with his short but fiery physical presence. Nate leaves a tremendous legacy in NYC behind him where he was a fan favorite and won three NBA dunk contests.

More Husky Recruiting

2010 UW guard prospect Deonta Burton would appear to be an unlikely possibility for a Husky team with a focus on big guys, but the kid is blowing up right now and still mentioning the Huskies. Sources in California have told us that this guy is the real deal and at a sturdy six-foot-two and 200 lbs. is physically ready for prime time in the Pac-10. \

2010 guard prospect Avery Johnson is also a player getting great reviews and still mentioning UW, but our sources tell us that though Johnson is taller and perhaps just a bit better shooter, Burton is the better pick-up.

2011 UW post prospect Angelo Chol impresses everyone from coast to coast. Coach Ollie Goulston at Hoover High in San Diego gave him a tremendous build-up in Scout this week.

“He’s averaging about 16.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 9.4 blocks per game. He has played well. He has had a string of triple-doubles in a row, and his offensive game has expanded a lot more. Interesting enough, he has become a great passer out of the double team as well. He will get two or three assists per game as well. He is just playing great.”

From the sounds of the article not much has changed with Chol’s recruiting. Last summer he named Washington as his favorite, but has since named 11 schools as all even. We are hearing that this was on the advice of others to appear more open at this stage. We will see if his interest in UW remains high. In the article his coach says that Angelo would like to visit all 11 schools.

A recruiting update for 2012 UW wing prospect Jordan Tebbutt stated that Romar, “Sat along the baseline Tuesday evening and watched Tebbutt display a dominant array of slashing and post moves in an easy 65-42 win over Westside Christian”. The bad news is that Tebbutt will compete this summer for Pump and Run in Los Angeles, CA, a known AAU pipeline for UCLA.

Very little is left to the imagination as to how they convinced the high school sophomore to go that far for his summer vacation when Jordan spoke of the decision.

“This year I’m really going to be amping it up in LA. There’s going to be some pickup games where I’ll be able to play Kobe, Paul Pierce and James Harden and Kevin Durant. I’m looking forward to that. It should be fun filled.”

We’ll see how much he is interested in Washington next fall.

In speaking to 2010 Washington signee Desmond Simmons, he mentioned that 2012 PG Dominic Artis was being recruited by Washington and that the five-foot-ten phenom who has been described by one source as the “baby faced killer” is very interested in the Dawgs.

Simmons was at the Cal game in Berkeley this past weekend, along with 2011 UW SG prospect Jabari Brown and Artis. Brown is reportedly a very high level prospect that is favoring the Dawgs, but he may have some academic difficulties to work through to get into the Pac-10. The word we’re getting is that the WCC, Mountain West and any Pac-10 team with lower standards than UW are coming after him very hard.

Brown is trying to get his Oakland High team jump started after transferring in from elite Findlay Prep in Henderson NV. The word is that his transfer was more about playing behind 2011 UW SG prospect Nick Johnson than academics, but that he also may have some problems there as well. That said he is a solid prospect that can be compared favorably to Cal’s Patrick Christopher and is easily a future star at a high level in college once he figures out his choice. Brown scored 31 points earlier this week as Oakland clinched a share of their league title.

According to sources around the net 2012 UW PG prospect Kevin Ferrell from Indiana is leaning to Notre Dame. :

Cougs Hope to Bounce Back Against Bruins

(Cougar Game Preview Courtesy of Heath Harshman)

The Cougars will be happy to be back at home this weekend for a three game home-stand. WSU has struggled to a 3-7 road record this season, including just 2-5 on the road in conference play. Compared to 3-3 at home in conference play and 10-3 in Pullman overall this season.

Washington State let what could’ve been a great weekend in California get away from them in horrid fashion, pushing them to 5-8 in the Pac-10 and four games back of conference leader Cal with just five games remaining. The Cougs have lost five of their last six, with four of those losses coming on the road. A couple weekends at home against the LA schools and in-state rival Washington are now on the docket and playing consistent and solid basketball will be a necessity for the Cougs to get a good push going into the Pac-10 tournament in mid-March.

“I think it’s crucial, I do not think it is make or break”, said WSU head coach Ken Bone in his weekly press conference Tuesday, when asked about the importance of this week.

First up for Wazzu is UCLA on Thursday night (5:30PM PST, ON FSN). The perennial power who not that long ago achieved the impressive feat of three consecutive final four appearances, has waffled to an 11-13 record including 6-6 in the conference.

The Bruins defeated the Cougs in the previous meeting this season, 74-62 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Freshman Reeves Nelson scored a team high 19 points and snatched seven rebounds off the bench in 25 minutes of play for UCLA. The Bruins as a team shot a scintillating 59.1% from the field and hit 6-13 (46.2%) from 3 point range. UCLA worked the Cougs defensive zone with ease, driving past the Cougs perimeter defense like it wasn’t there. Guards Michael Roll and Malcolm Lee dished out five and six assists respectively.

“I wish our defense was better, but it has gotten better. We’ve had a number of games here in the last three weeks where we’ve really done a good job of possession by possession of holding people down”, said Bone Tuesday.

Washington State on the other hand struggled to break down the Bruin zone, shooting a woeful 21-59 (35.6%) from the field and 10-28 (35.7%) from three point range. Pac-10 freshman of the year candidate Reggie Moore lead the Cougs in scoring, posting 24 points on 9-17 shooting.

Moore struggled last weekend against Stanford and Cal, scoring just 14 points combined over the two games on 4-18 shooting. He also got to the free throw line just five times over the course of the two games, showing a lack of aggression. Moore will have to be aggressive Thursday night when UCLA comes into Pullman in order to break down their zone.

“We need to look for better quality shots, I think. Make sure we are patient enough to get a good shot most every time down court and not just look for the first shot we can get off”, said Coach Bone.

Sophomore DeAngelo Casto is on arguably his best run of form in the crimson and gray, scoring 47 points and grabbing 25 rebounds over the last three games. Casto has shot a good percentage over that stretch as well, going 20-31 from the field. The big man out of Spokane also set a career high in blocks in a game in the loss at Cal with five. Casto will need to continue that form against freshman Reeves Nelson, who keyed the Bruin victory in late January.

The Cougs will be a bit thinner in the post this weekend, with sophomore Charlie Enquist, who twisted his ankle last week in practice, likely out for this weekend as well. Casto and freshman James Watson will likely see the majority of time in the post for WSU, with other freshman Steven Bjornstad and Brock Motum also getting time.

The WSU family also lost a member of the Cougar family last weekend, as former Athletic Director Jim Sterk left his post in Pullman, which he held for 10 years, for the same position at San Diego State. Senior Associate Athletic Director Anne McCoy will serve as interim AD while the search for a permanent replacement begins.

Bill Moos is the first noted candidate for the position and was invited by WSU President Dr. Floyd for a campus visit Wednesday, where he will be in meetings with various coaches and athletic staff throughout the day and will take part in a public forum with members of the university community from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“I and the rest of the staff here are sorry to see him leave…Jim’s a great person and everyone enjoyed working with him and for him”, said Coach Bone.

More Cougs

UCLA starting PG Malcolm Lee, according to the LA Times, is still adjusting to running the team from the point guard position.

The Bruins obviously need help at guard, as Ben Howland responded in the article as to whether Lee would be the started next year with, “We’ll see”. We have heard that Lee has been not happy in Westwood, but his performance this year has not shouted out NBA 1st round. He will likely have to return and will probably be moved back to the off-guard position where he will probably do much better.

The news here is that this is a very good time for WSU to pressure him and the other Bruin guards and get a desperately needed win. UCLA will also be without senior post James Keefe, a former McDonald’s All-American, who had season ending shoulder surgery this week.

13-13 Seattle U takes on Vandals

That in and of itself is a tremendous accomplishment for 1st year coach Cameron Dollar in a program that is itself in its 1st year of 100% D1 competition. With two straight lopsided wins over Sacramento State 98-67 on Saturday and UC Davis 81-56 on Tuesday, both in Key Arena, the Redhawks have moved to 13-13 on the year. They are the most successful independent team in D1 in the win column and well on their way to greater success next year as they edge closer to aligning with a conference and being allowed to compete in the NCAA tournament in 2013.

Against Sac-State Alex Jones led the way with a career high 19 points, while senior guard Chris Gweth added 16. Cervante Burrell scored 15, while Charles Garcia came off the bench for the 3rd time this season for 12. In the win over Davis again it was Jones with another career high of 24 points followed by Chuck who added his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards. Burrell had 14 points and Aaron Broussard went for 11. Jones also had 9 boards and he and Garcia again came off the bench.

Tonight the Redhawks travel to Moscow ID to face Idaho, a team that beat them 87-85 in Seattle on Saturday January 30th 2009. That will be a tough challenge for Dollar and his staff, but the Redhawks are playing better and better as the year has moved on, while the Vandals could be having trouble on the bench as their coach was publicly reprimanded by the WAC Conference for criticizing the refs and the team has sorely under performed of late.

The Seattle Weekly ran a feature by Editor Mike Seely about the Redhawks quest to start a college basketball buzz across town from Dollars old home in Montlake.

Early in the season the word around town was that star forward Chuck Garcia was headed to the NBA, but the good news for Seattle U fans is that Chuck is looking more and more likely to return next year where he could lead the Redhawks to a legit winning year, along with highly thought of SG Mark McLaughlin, most of the current Seattle U team and more promising Dollar recruits. Cam, who was known as a terror on the recruiting trail at Washington, is building a winner at Seattle U.

Seely also blogged that Pac-10 Expansion which is all over message boards and blogs could actually work in Seattle U’s favor in its quest to align with a prestigious conference.

Much is being discussed about Pac-10 expansion including talk of very big changes. Blogger Nick Daschel imagines a 16 team league that is more of an East/West configuration, as opposed to what most people guess will happen in dividing the conference into Northern and Southern divisions. I could see how Seattle U might benefit if such sweeping changes were to take place.

Zags in Control of WCC Take On Lions in LA

(Gonzaga Preview Courtesy of Alex Dissing)

Dare I say it, but the loss against San Francisco might have been exactly what the Zags needed. Ever since the 27-game WCC win streak snapping loss, Gonzaga is 4-0 with important conference wins against Portland and Saint Mary’s, not to mention an impressive win over Memphis at a neutral location.

Now, at the top of the WCC and having played both Saint Mary’s and Portland for the last times this regular season, the Zags need to take care of their remaining conference match-ups. That includes the upcoming match-up against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Thursday at 6 PM (PST).

Led by Elias Harris’s 22 points, the Zags won the last time these two teams met on January 23rd, 85-69. Despite a 13-13 record (4-6 in the WCC), Loyola Marymount is 3rd in the WCC with 75.6 points a game.

Sophomore forward Drew Viney leads the team in scoring and is 4th in the WCC with 16.9 points a game. Viney is mostly a deep threat, with 50 of his 135 field goals being from behind the arc.

The Zags will need to contain him but not completely immobilize him, much like they did in their last meeting. Viney put up an impressive 20 point performance the last time the two teams met but was 6-17 from the field. Viney shoots a lot (312 field goal attempts this season) but is only a 43% shooter.

The leading scorer for the Lions in the last meeting was not Viney however; junior guard Vernon Teel led the way with 27 points. Teel doesn’t score as much (14.9 points a game) but he is the offensive playmaker for the Lions. Teel is 5th in the nation with 6.2 assists per game.

The obvious downside for Loyola Marymount heading into the game is their defense: the Lions are last in the WCC by giving up 75.7 points a game. The Lions are also last in the WCC in 3-point field goal defense at 39%.

The Zags, especially Matt Bouldin, will look to exploit this weakness. As a 40% (48-120) 3-point shooter, Bouldin is the leading perimeter threat for the Bulldogs. Steven Gray, who got Gonzaga going in their recent victory over San Diego with three consecutive 3-pointers, is also a deep threat with 38 3-point field goals on the year.

Pac-10 Round Up

Draft Express ran a feature this week about the Pac-10 which painted a very gloomy picture based on NBA early entry, coaching changes, academic casualties and other chills and spills. It’s not a great piece, like much of what I’ve read on draft sites, but is not a bad laundry list of the events that have led to a down year in the conference. Much of this article is too gloomy and the analysis is way off in my opinion.

ASU beat OSU 56-46 last Thursday night. Senior PG Derek Glasser had 16 points and senior guard Jerren Shipp added 11 in the defensive struggle in Tempe AZ. Calvin Haynes scored 15 for the Beavers. On Saturday the Sun Devils beat Oregon 61-51 as this time Ty Abbott led the way with 19. Rihards Kuksiks scored 12 and Eric Boateng added 10 points and 7 boards. ASU now go to Tucson for a 2:30 PM (PST) tip with Arizona on Sunday.

‘Zona beat the Ducks on Thursday as Derrick Williams scored 20. Lamont “Momo” Jones scored 11 and Nic Wise scored 10 on a mediocre 4-12 shooting night. For Oregon Teondre Williams and Jeremy Jacob each scored 10. On Saturday Oregon State came into Tucson and beat Arizona handily 63-55.

Roeland Schaftenaar led the Beavs with 14 points, while Calvin Haynes added 13 and Seth Tarver 11. For the ‘Cats it was Jamelle Horne with 15 points and 14 boards while Derrick Williams added 13 points. Kevin Parrom scored 12 and Nic Wise went 1-11 from the field, 1-8 from three and five total points.

Despite the bad showing Arizona’s Scout site did a glowing appraisal of the season and Sean Miller which seemed to be very satisfied despite what looks to be the end of their streak of NCAA appearances. Arizona sits at 7-6 in Pac-10 play, but are 13-12 overall. Had they won that game and followed it up with a win over ASU, who they beat in Tempe in January 77-58, they may have stood a chance of getting into the dance. Now it would take winning the league tourney to do it more than likely.

Cal Head Coach Mike Montgomery attempted to defend the Pac-10, or at least explain the conference this year in a somewhat favorable light, in an article on Bear Talk.

Richardson Makes Case that Racism Still Exists For Coaches

Former Arkansas coaching legend Nolan Richardson spoke out on racism playing a part in the controversial way that he was let go by Arkansas after a very successful career. His “40-Miutes of Hell” coaching style led Arkansas to tremendous success in the 80’s, 90’s and up until his dismissal from the Razorback job over statements that he had experienced negative treatment because of race.

As a player he was a forward on the famed Texas Western team that went on to beat an all-white Kentucky squad in the 1966 national championship game. In an article on CBS Sportsline’s, Mike Freeman caught up with Richardson, who confirmed that he still felt harmed by a double standard that existed when he was coaching because of race. Nolan stated in the article that, “If all the great coaches in basketball history like (Bobby) Knight or [John] Wooden had been black, they’d be nobodies”. That is a troubling thought, but Nolan Richardson integrity is worth taking seriously.

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