Winter is coming. But before winter is Thanksgiving. And before Thanksgiving is the annual Maui Invitational. Morgan Miller tanning her rocking body on the beaches of Hawaii? Yes please? Our undefeated Flyers go into this tournament with Uncle Momentum on their side after beating the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech. First up for our Flyers? The original Cinderellas, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. To help us scout the Zags, Peter Woodburn of the Sportsnation blog The Slipper Still Fits helped us out by answering our, as always, stupid questions. Read below about his favorite Gonzaga players, Mark Few’s problems, Goliath Karnowski, and the side dish that goes with everything for your turkey meal. Enjoy!
Don Donoher: Let’s get the history questions out of the way first. Out here in Ohio, all we know about Gonzaga is what we see on TV come March. Our leader, Tom Blackburn (@blackburnreview) tweeted his top 5 favorite Gonzaga players as Dan Dickau, Matt Bouldin, Matt Santangelo, Adam Morrison, and Blake Stepp. I personally would put Richie Frahm in there simply because of this picture. What about you guys? Top 5 favorite Gonzaga players…GO!
Peter Woodburn: Ronny Turiaf because of the energy, Cory Violette because of the consistency, Richie Frahm because he is the man, Matt Bouldin because he was one of the more underrated PGs the school had, and Sean Mallon because I lived across the street from him.
DD: This will be a tough one for you. Like always, we enjoy going eharmony on everyone’s ass. We know what Mark Few does well. Tell us what he struggles with/what frustrates you to hell?
PW: Mark Few’s complete inability to figure out perimeter defenses is definitely annoying, but more so I get baffled by his rotational schemes. Guys just disappear for long stretches of games, and then suddenly reappear, usually at the expense of someone else. But overall, he is still one of the better coaches in college basketball. What he has created, consistency wise, at Gonzaga is pretty unparalleled for a school of its size.
DD: Onto this year’s team! The Bulldogs are shooting 55.5% from the field (good enough for 7th in the country) and averaging 91 points a game! Everyone on our site reading this knows I put minimal effort into everything, but damn! That’s a lot of points. Yet according to the stats, that’s only good enough for third in your conference. Now it’s early, but the WCC looks pretty damn stacked. I would assume it’s going to come down to the Zags and St. Mary’s, correct?
PW: The WCC is a three-team race between Saint Mary’s, BYU and Gonzaga. After losing Delladova, I thought Saint Mary’s would plummet to nothingness, but that was just an empty pipe dream. BYU has possible WCC player of the year in Tyler Haws, plus Matt Carlino, PLUS they play at the Marriott Center before larger crowds than most NBA teams draw. It’s a brutal place to try and pick up a win.
DD: Kevin Pangos leads this team in scoring, which is no shock. The guy is a machine, tallying 30 minutes a game. Gary Bell (another guard) is playing just as well, if not better. Both guys are crushing it from beyond the arc and seem to score at will. How, as a Dayton player, are you to stop these guys? Subquestion, will Pangos miss from the free throw line this year?
PW: Stopping the combination of Bell and Pangos is incredibly hard, because both can drain shots seemingly at will from behind the arc and both are great at seeing the open lanes and taking it to the hoop. Bell, in particular, is pretty explosive, so you can’t get too tight on him on the perimeter or else a screen will send him free. At the same time, he just drained eight threes earlier this year, so you have to respect his shot. To guard this you just have to play hard-nosed defense. Hassle every shot with a hand in the face, because sometimes even that doesn’t make them flinch.
DD: Not necessarily a Gonzaga question, but it involves them. We all know the famous clip of Gonzaga losing to UCLA and Adam Morrison slouched on the court. I hate to bring that up and jab the knife in deeper, but I have to ask about Gus Johnson. I like to choose that instance as the moment I started to loathe Gus Johnson. You guys have to HATE him, right? I personally think he is a blowhard, horrible, annoying punk ass announcer. But that’s just me. Thoughts?
PW: I personally love Gus Johnson and think the tournament needs more of him. I just flat out love his energy, even if it comes at a loss for my team.
DD: Ok, so scoring and rebounding are this team’s forte. They only turn the ball over 10 times a game. They shoot well. They play defense. Seriously, does this team do ANYTHING wrong? Give us something, anything, that maybe the Flyers can expose and possibly pull off this upset.
PW: The Zags defend from the perimeter like a bunch of seventh grade JV kids taking on the varsity high school team. They are also incredibly thin up front. If either Sam Dower or Przemek Karnowski gets into foul trouble, they are a four-guard lineup for a long portion of the game.
DD: Our centers are shit. They get abused by the littlest of players from across the globe. Needless to say, Przemek Karnowski scares the hell out of me. 7’1″ 300lbs? The guy is a monster! Just looking at how he has improved from his frosh year to this year is impressive. What is the ceiling for this guy? It also appears you have a player (who is redshirting maybe?) named Ryan Edwards who is also 7’1″ 300bs. For all that is holy, please tell me that there is a video of these guys either dancing with some coeds or having an eat-off at the local Chinese buffet/Golden Corral.
PW: Przemek is an absolute monster, when he wants to be. He still is young and raw, so he hans’t put together a complete game yet. But he has great hands, great foot work, and like you said, he is an absolute hulking mass of human flesh in the paint. If he puts it together, his ceiling is the NBA without a doubt. Like they always say, you can teach skills, you can’t teach 7 feet. As for Ryan Edwards, he is from Montana. I can only assume he fights bears during the summers when he is home from school.
DD: Prediction time…please fill in the blanks, Mad Libs style: Gonzaga will beat Dayton by _______ points with a final score of ________. Gonzaga will be a _________ seed in the NCAA Tournament and make it to the ___________. Our favorite Thanksgiving side dish is ____________. The best band from Seattle is ________. This interview was ___________.
PW: Prediction time…please fill in the blanks, Mad Libs style: Gonzaga will beat Dayton by (20) points with a final score of (90-70). Gonzaga will be a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and make it to the Sweet 16. My favorite Thanksgiving side dish is gravy (potatos are good too). The best band from Seattle is present – Sandrider, previous – Botch. This interview was quirky and entertaining.