Just filed this notebook from Gonzaga's 77-64 NCAA tournament win over Akron on Thursday.
Read the unedited version below.
I'll post John Blanchette's column in the morning.
“I think I’m a pretty good judge,” said Dambrot, who coached LeBron James in high school. “That’s the most individually talented No. 4 seed you’ll see. Those guys are pros. I kind of had a tendency to judge people by LeBron. I don’t think they’re LeBron, but they’re pros.”
Gonzaga defeated the Zips 77-64 in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Rose Garden. Four Zags reached double figures, led by senior forward Josh Heytvelt’s 22 points.
While Dambrot was impressed with Gonzaga’s talent level, Zips senior forward Nate Linhart pointed out the Zags’ experience.
“They’ve been there before,” Linhart said. “And they knew what they were doing. They had the confidence to push through our storm.”
Gonzaga has four seniors and junior Matt Bouldin, a three-year starter, in its eight-man rotation. The Zips typically use 10 players, including three freshmen and three sophomores.
Gonzaga had problems containing the Zips’ patient offense in the first half, but the Bulldogs clamped down in the closing 20 minutes. The Bulldogs opened the second half in a zone, which worked for a couple of possessions.
“They had their rhythm in the first half and we needed to try to disrupt them a little bit,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “So we tried (zone) and it worked a little bit. But our bread and butter has been our man defense all year and that’s what got us going in that stretch run.”
The Zips made just seven field goals in the second half, three of those in final 2:08.
Heytvelt’s fifth NCAA tournament game went a lot smoother than his previous four. Heytvelt made 7 of 12 field-goal attempts and 7 of 8 at the foul line to finish with 22 points in 36 minutes. In his previous four NCAA games, Heytvelt scored a total of 15 points in 39 minutes.
“Our guards were doing such a great job of coming off screens and making jumpers, it opened up feeds inside for easy baskets,” Heytvelt said.
And vice versa.
“When Josh hunkers down in the post, he’s a big body and he’s easy to find sometimes,” Matt Bouldin said. “Once he gets going, it really starts opening things up.”
The Zags again had the benefit of a partisan crowd. It wasn’t quite as loud as the Orleans Arena in
“The atmosphere was great, kind of like the Kennel a little bit,” senior guard Jeremy Pargo said.
“Zag nation is powerful everywhere,” Few said, “but obviously you can really feel it in the Northwest. We’re staying in the same hotel that we stay at when we play the
Early in the second half,