Back with a ton of unedited cut-and-paste material to post. Read on for more.
(I'll post John Blanchette's Q & A with Rev. Robert Spitzer and Blanchette's profile of Akron coach Keith Dambrot in the morning).
First, here's a look at the matchups...
Gonzaga: Mark Few, 262-65, 10th season
Postseason: 10 NCAAs, 9-9 record.
Postseason: 2 NITs, 2-2 record
The NCAA tournament is old hat for Few and Gonzaga. Few’s teams have made 10 straight trips and Gonzaga is making its 11 consecutive appearance. Under Few, Gonzaga has made three Sweet Sixteens (2000, 2001 and 2006) and the second round three times (2003-2005). Gonzaga had lost its last three NCAA games.
Dambrot has guided the Zips to three straight MAC title games, but this is the first year they earned the conference’s automatic berth. This is
GU senior Jeremy Pargo, junior Matt Bouldin and senior wing Micah Downs have a considerable edge in experience over
The Zips typically start three forwards, all in the 6-7 to 6-8 range, but the biggest matchup problem is probably 6-7 Brett McKnight off the bench. He averages 11.4 points per game despite only playing 21.3 minutes. He operates inside and outside (87 3-point attempts). His brother Chris, is 20 pounds lighter, but leads the team in free throw attempts (150). Mike Bardo, at 6-10, is the tallest Zip but he only plays an average of 15 minutes.
Gonzaga will have a size advantage with 6-11 Josh Heytvelt and 6-11 Austin Daye. The Zips usually don’t encounter front lines with Gonzaga’s length and they could find it difficult to finish and keep the Bulldogs off the glass.
Here is a short GU notebook...
Heather caught a Wednesday flight from
“Her husband has a government job over there so she’s lived there off and on for the last 2½ years,” Heytvelt said. “They were in Clarkston for about a month at Christmas-time and she’s coming this weekend. Then she’s flying back to
“She’s a diehard.”
Want further proof?
“I don’t remember if it was her first child or second, but when I was in high school (at Clarkston) she gave birth and a day or two later she drove across the state to watch us play in the state championships,” Heytvelt said. “She’s probably my biggest fan, next to my dad.”
Gonzaga, along with Duke,
The base layer has basketball-specific padding without restricting movement, according to Nike. The uniform tops provide zoned cooling and weigh 31 percent less than GU’s regular jerseys. Gonzaga players assisted with the design of the shoes.
Senior guard Jeremy Pargo said the team split into two groups at two different computers to come up with ideas for the shoes.
“One group at one end and one at the other,” Pargo said. “Who do you think won?”
“Your group?” guessed a reporter.
“Good choice,” Pargo said.
“Our shoe deal with (James), it’s just us and
Finally, here's my GU-Akron game preview...
“For those fans of
Gonzaga has some NCAA tournament heartbreak of its own it wants to rectify. The Bulldogs have dropped their last three NCAA games, including first-round exits the last two years. GU was seeded seventh and lost to No. 10 Davidson in the Wildcats’ home state of
“It feels a lot better than the last two years,” senior forward Micah Downs said. “We’ve got everybody healthy and we have everyone playing really well. We finished conference out the way we wanted to and we’re in
The Bulldogs (26-5) are favored by 12.5 points, the largest margin of the four No. 4 seeds, but head coach Mark Few found plenty to worry about with the 14th-seeded Zips (23-12).
“I don’t think in 20 years of watching tape I’ve seen a team that plays that hard,” Few said. “That’s going to be a real challenge – to match their intensity and physicalness and how much energy they play with.”
Linhart said the Zips have no choice.
“Coach (Keith Dambrot) is constantly reminding us we’re not very skilled or talented,” said Linhart, glancing at Dambrot on his right. “So we have to find other ways to win. Playing hard goes hand in hand with that.”
The Bulldogs enter with a nine-game winning streak that includes flattening
Dambrot said his undersized club has little margin for error.
“The biggest thing is we have to make shots to win the game,” he said. “We have to defend like we’ve never defended before.”
“They’re great at forcing turnovers, so we need to slow down and execute,” Bulldogs junior guard Matt Bouldin said. “I think they foul a lot, that’s what I’ve been told, so we need to be strong with the ball.”
Gonzaga was successful in speeding the tempo against slower-paced teams such as WSU, but it faces a slightly different challenge with the Zips.
“They want to push tempo on defense and slow it down on offense,” GU sophomore forward Austin Daye said.
Both teams hope to take advantage of matchups. Gonzaga frontcourt players often will be 3-4 inches taller than
“The thing that concerns me is they’re so big inside,”
Heytvelt said defense will be the key if Gonzaga wants to continue its roll from the WCC tournament.
“We’ve been doing a better job of getting down and guarding guys and not letting them get comfortable,” he said. “I have a lot more experience doing that, even from guarding Austin and Ira (Brown) at practice. We’re pretty solid, guarding small or big guys.”