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Gonzaga Basketball

Zags Basketball Insiders Podcast (episode 16): Nembhard’s rise, a Santa Clara rematch and Anton’s senior night

Guard Ryan Nembhard has never been better for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

That’s a big reason why GU is back in the hunt for a NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

In the latest Zags Basketball Insiders Podcast on Monday, Spokesman-Review reporter Jim Meehan and TV analyst and former GU big man Richard Fox talk about Nembhard’s importance to this Gonzaga team.

The two also examine NET rankings, bracket projections and poll numbers, and look ahead to games on Thursday (at Portland) and Saturday (Santa Clara).

Among the highlights (edited for brevity):

Meehan: “Nobody right now has anybody to deal with what Ryan Nembhard’s doing out there. He’s a conductor, he’s moving the chess pieces all over, and it’s check mate nearly every night out for him.”

Fox: “He’s their most important player. He’s the guy – just to pick a really overplayed analogy – he’s the straw that stirs the drink. If (Gonzaga doesn’t) have Nembhard, I don’t think we’re talking anything about where they’re at in the NET right now or the tournament. I think they’re a double-digit loss (team). He’s that important to what they’re doing. He’s not their best player in that he’s not a dominant scorer, he’s not their best defender or anything like that, but without him, he’s the only guy who can do what he does. And you see that. When you can’t speed up my point guard, you’re going to have a tough time speeding me up.”

Fox: “Everything that they want to do is still out there in front of them, and you get both those wins (last week), I don’t think you’re stressed nearly in the same way you would be today if the (WCC) tournament in Vegas started this week. I think it’s good to remember that they’re (No. 23) in the NET. I don’t believe a team has ever been that high in the NET and not been selected (as an at-large.) So if they keep taking care of their business, and can get one or two in San Francisco (next week), we might still be feeling OK about them. It’s amazing how one game can let you breathe a little bit easier … that Kentucky win is no small thing, especially after Kentucky has a great win over the weekend against Auburn.”

Catch the episode here, or find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.