Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of alarm clocks that sound in the 3-a.m. hour but we've arrived in sunny Salt Lake City for late night with the Zags and Cougars. Here's a GU-BYU glance and a short preview that ran in today's S-R. In-game updates on twitter @SRjimm.
Articles from Utah here, here and here reflect the game's importance to BYU and the Cougars' desire to shut down Gonzaga's 3-point opportunities. That's roughly the same strategy Memphis and numerous others have attempted against the Bulldogs.
It sounds like the 2013-14 WCC schedule that wasn't well received by member schools will be more balanced next season, commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said. Nobody likes playing conference games when students are on the holiday break, but they're unavoidable. In fact, with the addition of Pacific boosting membership to 10, the league schedule went from 16 games to 18 and in certain seasons the WCC will stage conference games prior to Christmas.
More below on the scheduling and Gonzaga coach Mark Few's thoughts on the keys to tonight's game..
Future WCC scheduling
There has been plenty of chatter about the WCC schedule this season, where several teams had prolonged home or road stretches.
San Francisco and Portland had five-game home stands. Gonzaga opened with four straight at home and finishes with four on the road. San Diego had seven road games in the first half and will play seven at home in the second half.
The addition of Pacific created a 10-team scheduling model. Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said that presented “more challenges putting it together,” including protecting travel partners and working with television partners.
“We’ve identified what the challenges are and I think we can get ahead of it, certainly some of the home and road stretches,” Zaninovich said. “We’ll get it cleaned up.”
There have always been conference games played when students aren’t in session. With an 18-game schedule that becomes more of an issue and in some calendar years the conference games will actually start before Christmas, Zaninovich said.
Few on BYU's zone defense: “We riddled it here (MAC) a little, down at their place two years ago we didn't handle it well at all. Last year we got a bunch of good shots we didn't make.”
Few on BYU's offense: “They come at you quickly. (Tyler) Haws, if he senses any advantage he's going to race it down and try to draw contact. They're one of those teams that throws it ahead and shoots the 3 quickly, and makes them. They come at you from the moment they gain possession, which I’d like to think when we’re at our best we do the same thing.”