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If you quickly scanned the stats — Gonzaga shooting a higher percentage, winning the glass, 13-0 edge in bench points, 15-9 edge in second-chance points and capably defending Duke's offense and star center Jahlil Okafor — it would seemingly add up to a Zags' victory.
But GU's normally productive offense had two lengthy dry spells in the second half, one after taking a 38-34 lead and another rough patch in the final 5-plus minutes. Duke took full advantage.
One last time this season, here's our game coverage: My game story, John Blanchette's column, Colin Mulvany's photos, Jacob Thorpe's Duke sidebar and a Meehan/Thorpe notebook. Here's a link to find Duke coverage in the Charlotte paper.
For the second time in school history, Gonzaga will play for a spot in the Final Four when it takes on No. 1 seeded Duke today. If it's not the biggest game day in program history, it at least shares top billing with the 1999 squad's Elite Eight showdown with Connecticut.
Here's our coverage: My game advance and notebook, John Blanchette column on Matt Santangelo, and Jacob Thorpe's notebook and feature on Duke's Justise Winslow. Here's a link to Duke coverage in the Charlotte Observer.
I caught Mark Few returning from post-game media session in a nearly empty hallway after Gonzaga's 74-62 win over UCLA and asked him a couple of questions before a few more reporters arrived. Few explained what he imparted during a timeout when the Bruins had cut GU's lead to one early in the second half.
Few told the Zags to tighten up their ball-screen coverage, it had slipped during the Bruins' rally. And he told the Zags to feed it inside to Przemek Karnowski.
"We liked that (Karnowski) matchup so I was trying to call that number," Few said. "And Domas (Sabonis) had a nice stretch there."
Gonzaga is trying to go where only the 1999 Zags have gone before: The Elite Eight. UCLA is standing in their way.
Here's our coverage in today's paper: My game preview, John Blanchette's column on Steve Alford and his Spokane connection, Colin Mulvany's photo gallery, Jacob Thorpe's sidebar on UCLA's late-season success and a Meehan/Thorpe notebook.
You can find L.A. Times coverage at this link.
Gonzaga and Iowa meet later today at KeyArena with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line. It's an intriguing matchup with both teams boasting size, experience and underappreciated defenses.
The battle of the bigs will be a fun one to watch. One factor barely discussed in the numerous articles I read this morning, and one that always plays a huge role in NCAA tournament games: the guards. When Mark Few talks about how much the program will miss Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos after they graduate, this is what he's talking about — the two seniors combined for 31 points, seven assists, three rebounds, two steals, one block, zero turnover in 77 minutes against North Dakota State. And Bell turned in another solid defensive effort on NDSU's Lawrence Alexander.
Iowa's starting guards, Mike Gesell and Peter Jok, were impressive in a victory over Davidson, combining for 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists and zero turnovers in 57 minutes.
Media day approaching this afternoon so we'll get caught up with last night's S-R content from the Zags' 86-76 win over North Dakota State.
My game story, John Blanchette's column (complete with dump truck and Nuke LaLoosh references), Jacob Thorpe's article on NDSU and Dexter Werner, the Walter brothers' one-and-done road trip, and Colin Mulvany's photos. Bison coverage here.
Second-seeded Gonzaga and No. 15 North Dakota State tangle tonight at KeyArena, the nightcap of four games here.
As Selection Sundays go, this one went just about as expected. And that's probably a good thing for Gonzaga, which earned the expected seed (2) and site (Seattle). The Zags are in the South Region, which features No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Iowa State, but those are down-the-road possibilities.
GU's immediate assignment is No. 15 North Dakota State in Seattle on Friday.
I'm visiting with NDSU coach Dave Richman tomorrow so I'll have a look at the Bison, probably for Tuesday's paper.
Last year I had a lot of fun competing with you all in a contest to see who could fill out the best NCAA tournament bracket.
So much fun that I'm upping the stakes this year by doubling the prize and buying a $50 gift card for the winner to the restaurant of her/his choice. Will Gabe repeat as champion and get even more Red Robbins? Or will someone else snatch his crown? Don't forget to check back periodically to see how you're doing because Gabe was not the highest point-getter last season, just the highest we were able to contact.
So follow this link and enter the password "Spokesman" to fill out a bracket.
About the only question in the closing minutes was whether Gonzaga would suffer its worst NCAA tournament loss. They didn't, but it hardly eased their pain as the Bulldogs were crushed by Arizona 84-61 Sunday at Viejas Arena.
GU's 87-63 loss to Maryland in 1995 — the school's first NCAA trip — remains its most lopsided. This one wasn't close as Gonzaga couldn't handle with Arizona's pressure defense and coughed up 21 turnovers, leading to 31 Wildcats' points.
Przemek Karnowski had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Pangos played through a sprained ankle to make four 3s and finish with 12 points. But the Bulldogs made just 41 percent of their shots and scored only 27 points in the second half.
From Pullman — It's tournament time in Spokane and we've got all hands on deck. While the Cougars were left out of the Big Dance, there's still some Cougar flavor to this March Madness. We've got a story on former WSU player Xavier Thames who returns to these parts as one of college basketball's best players. Our tournament notes have an item or two that will be of interest to WSU fans.
From Pullman — Handsome, sturdy, good in all weather. That polo hanging tantalizingly above this post is the prize in our Spokesman-Review NCAA Tournament Challenge. It, as well as a $25 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, can be yours if you fill out the best bracket.
To enter, simply follow this link and enter the password "SportsLink". Good luck!
Florence Young grew up in Tucson, home of the University of Arizona. "My brother is a UA grad and a 25-year season ticket holder for Arizona basketball."
But during her many years in Spokane, Florence has come to love Gonzaga University basketball.
"If Arizona and Gonzaga get past their first games, they meet in the round of 32. Of all the teams in all the towns, why did those two…!"
- NCAA Tournament
Not sure how it came across on television, but Gonzaga-Southern was interesting from the start and turned into a thriller when the gutsy Jaguars mounted their umpteenth comeback late in the second half.
Gonzaga hung on, riding key baskets by Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., for a 64-58 win over the Jaguars.
FROM SALT LAKE CITY — They call it "practice," technically, but as you can see from the video posted below, these open-to-the-public, day-before-the-tourney practice sessions aren't all that strenuous. Here's a look.
Thinking back, it was maybe 10 minutes into the impossibly fun tale of Gonzaga basketball that the Zags evolved from humble, lovable underdogs into something less appealing in the eyes of a not insignificant segment of the studio audience. Underachievers. There. We said it. Underachievers. Is it true? Oh, hell no. But if AM radio has taught us anything, it’s that everybody has to believe something – and once they do, they won’t let go. And with the 75th NCAA basketball tournament under way, it’s more of a talking point than ever what with the Bulldogs seeded No. 1 and in a perfect position to live up to this trumped-up expectation that they won’t live up to expectations. It’s a virtual mathematical inevitability/John Blanchette, SR. More here.
Question: Will you be embarrassed if Gonzaga stumbles anywhere short of the Elite Eight?
FROM PULLMAN — Back on the Palouse, albeit for a very short time before hitting the road again. We do have a recap of yesterday's NCAA tournament selections, which went much better for the Pac-12 this year than last. Read on.
Last year's NCAA bracket pool was pretty popular, so we've brought it back this season. Anyone who wants to participate can do so by clicking this link:
The group ID is 102194. The group password is cougs. Let me know if you have any problems signing up. Anyone who participated last season has already received an invite via email.
Kentucky Anthony Davis walks off the court after an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Louisville Saturday in New Orleans. Davis scored 18 points as Kentucky won 69-61 and now will face Kansas tonight for the national title. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Question: Why are/aren't you interested in tonight's game?
KINGSTON, R.I. - Forget dunking a basketball.
Gonzaga women's basketball coach Kelly Graves' excitement prior to the final practice before his 11th-seeded Bulldogs face No. 2-seeded Kentucky tomorrow was all about Dunkin Donuts. Graves made his first trip to the famed joint last night on a walk.
The press conference remark, which will likely make its way into all the media coverage today, showcased how loose the Zags are during their cross-country trip for their Sweet 16 dance with the Wildcats. One thing about Graves and the Zags - they know how to let the good times roll, as highlighted in this morning's feature on sophomore guard Haiden Palmer.
More coverage later from myself and a picture story from S-R photographer Colin Mulvany.
Gonzaga's Shannon Reader (31) celebrates a teammate's score against Miami in the second half of an NCAA tournament second-round women's college basketball game in Spokane Monday. Gonzaga defeated Miami 65-54. See Jess Brown's story below. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
- Idaho Records/Sherry Adkins, SR
- UMontana student accuses QB of rape/Gwen Florio, Missoulian
- Idaho prison care is 'cruel & inhuman' punishment/Rebecca Boone, AP
- Popkey: Which Otter will decide fate of ultrasound bill?/Statesman
- Karl Thompson seeks new trial in Otto Zehm case/Thomas Clouse, SR
- Sewage from pump station enters St. Maries river/David Cole, CdA Press
- Feds extend comment period of caribou habitat/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors
- Brown: Gonzaga plays like Bulldogs they are to get past Miami/Jess Brown, SR
- Instructor no longer teaching at Boise State after gun incident/Patrick Orr, Statesman
- WSU Cougs advance to College Basketball Invitational semis/Christian Caple, SR
- Elk Foundation offers to fund more aggressive wolf killing/Rob Chaney, Missoulian
- Orbusmax Special: Tukwila workers accuse African-American superintendent of racism here
How sweet it was.
The 11th-seeded Gonzaga women's basketball team earned a third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen with a victory over No.3 Miami on Monday night in the final game at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season.
Gonzaga will face No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday in Kingston, R.I. (game time TBA). The Zags reached the Elite Eight last season.
How far do you think the Zags can go?
FROM PULLMAN — It's technically still basketball season, but with spring football practices starting this week, we turn out focus toward Mike Leach's squad for a moment. Read on for that and some Pac-12 links.
Gonzaga made quick work of West Virginia, building a 17-point lead in the first 12 minutes and cruising to a 77-54 victory over the Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament on Thursday.
Gonzaga's Guy Landry Edi (10) dunks the ball in front of West Virginia's Jabarie Hinds (4) in the first half of an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game tonight in Pittsburgh. Story here. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
DFO: I'll be following the game via linescore, AP photos, and updated headlines during the afternoon. Feel free to use this thread for you comments.
Gonzaga University center Rob Sacre appears on a closed circuit monitor as he listens to a quetion from the media Wednesday in Pittsburgh as the Zags await their opening round game against West Virginia. The two teams tipoff at 4:20 p.m. today on Channel TNT (Channel 31 on Time-Warner). (SR photo: Christopher Anderson)
Question (for bracketologists): Who did you pick for your Final Four?
FROM PULLMAN — Everyone loves a bracket challenge. So I created a group on Yahoo! for anyone who wants to submit their picks and match their brackets against the readers of this blog. All you need is a Yahoo! membership, which is free.
Here's the link to join.
The password is: cougs
Winner gets mentioned in a blog post. And possibly a handshake.
Gonzaga drew a seventh seed in the NCAA tournament and will face 10th-seeded West Virginia on Thursday in Morganto…, err, Pittsburgh. “We’re wearing white jerseys but the home-court advantage will be with them,” junior forward Elias Harris said. “It’ll be like a road game, but the fans aren’t on the court. It’s us against them and it really shouldn’t bother us.” The Bulldogs (25-6) and Mountaineers (19-13) square off at 4:20 PDT at CONSOL Energy Center, roughly 2,250 miles from GU’s campus and 75 miles from West Virginia’s campus. The winner will meet the winner of No. 2-seeded Ohio State (185 miles from Pittsburgh) and No. 15 Loyola-Maryland (245 miles) on Saturday. Syracuse is the top seed in the East Region/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka's SR photo of Gonzaga coach Mark Few)
Question: Do you think the Bulldogs were properly seeded at No. 7?
FROM PULLMAN — The dust has settled after another selection Sunday. But selection Sunday means a heck of a lot more selections than it used to. The Cougars were selected by the CBI, along with Oregon State. Four Pac-12 teams were selected by the NIT. And two are headed to the big dance. That's eight conference teams in postseason play. Hey, who said the Pac-12 was down? Wait. Don't answer that. Instead, read on.
CDAJim: Over the weekend we got the final report on the March Madness bracket contest that we competed in. There were 133 of us in the competition with me, my wife and son nowhere close to getting in on the winnings. However, the winner, who had picked UConn and beat out everyone in total points and won over $460…. WAS 10 YEARS OLD !!!
Question: How did you do with your NCAA tournament brackets?