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Looking Ahead to Gonzaga

Let's take a break from rampant speculation about prospective Defensive Coordinators for a minute. Don't worry you can get right back to tracking flights after we look ahead to Gonzaga, our opponent at the lovely desert neutral site of Phoenix.

Now I know what you're thinking.  "Intern, that game's not until Saturday.  We can't afford to look past Texas Southern tonight, a game that can be seen live for the reasonable price of $8 general admission."  I'm willing to take that chance.

Season to Date

The Zags came into the season looking to keep up their high level of play without their biggest playmaker from last year, Adam Morrison.  After running the gauntlet of Eastern Washington, Rice, Baylor, and UTSA to start the season, the Zags met their first real test against the second ranked Tar Heels of North Carolina in the preseason NIT Semifinals.  The Zags pulled the upset in the Garden behind big games for Senior Point Guard Derek Raivio and Sophomore Forward Josh Heytvelt.  To follow up their big upset, the Zags were themselves upset two days later by Butler in the NIT finals. To quote Gonzaga coach Mark Few about the game:

Butler outplayed us in any facet and every facet that I can possibly think of involved in basketball.

I like it.  It's concise and to the point.  To be fair, Butler was very hot coming into the game.  The Bulldogs had taken down Notre Dame, Kelvin Sampson's Hoosiers, and #21 Tennessee to set up their unexpected preseason NIT championship.  The Zags bounced back by pounding Idaho at home, and will host Portland State on Thursday before heading to Phoenix for the showdown.

Some players to keep an eye on

Derek Raivio - Senior Point Guard:  Raivio is the leader of this Gonzaga team, though he has been overlooked because he's been playing next to talent like Morrison.  The 6-3, 175 pound senior is averaging 33.9 minutes, more than 4 minutes more than the next highest, and he averages 18.7 ppg. Raivio scored 21 points against UNC.  He shoots 46% from the field, including 44% from 3, and he's almost automatic from the line with a 91.4% line.

Jeremy Pargo - Sophomore Guard:  Raivio might be the solid veteran, but Pargo looks to be the next uber-talented guard from Gonzaga.  Pargo has yet to have a stellar game this season, though he scored 16 against UNC.  Pargo is much more comfortable driving the lane than setting up and shooting.  In fact he's only attempted 8 threes this season, making only 1.  Pargo played well in the shadow of Morrison last year, and seems poised to break out at any time.

Josh Heytvelt - Sophomore Forward:  What would a team be without a committed post presence? Well they'd be Texas, but that's not the point.  Heytvelt stands at 6-11, 235 and played a key role in the win over North Carolina, in which he had 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.  Heytvelt doesn't have to be a world beater, as he is a major beneficiary of experienced and solid guard play for the Zags.

If you're not excited for this game yet, you should, we get a bit of a break from football, so it's not like you have any other UT athletics to cheer on.  Sorry PHF.

Also, if you live in Austin, the game tonight is just calling out to you.  Is it not worth $8 to watch Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, and AJ Abrams rip through Texas Southern?  PB and AW are getting lonely in the Drum I'm sure.