October 16, 2014

Gonzaga #13 in Coaches Poll

The first major poll is out, the USA Today Coaches Poll, and the Zags come in at a very respectable #13. Some will be a tad disappointed it isn't higher, but I feel it's about right.

There has been a ton of preseason hype surrounding this year's team and I for one am happy that this poll has not simply handed the NCAA Crown over to the Zags. This will in most likelihood be a very good team but a pinch of sensibility might be in order folks. It may just be that some over zealous fans should stop guzzling the koolaid (myself included) and come up for air.

To be sure, Gonzaga has some pretty good pieces coming back in Pangos, Bell, and Karnowski. Plus, some elite transfers; Wiltjer, McClellan, Wesley, and Sabonis. Yes, this edition is loaded with talent but that does not always equate to winning. See: Kentucky. They have 9 All-Americans on their roster this year. They've had close to that number before as well, and yet with all of that talent they were bounced in the NIT.

Not saying the Zags will be NIT bound, as we have a pretty good coach, but lets get the season going before we buy the Nat'l Title shirts. A very early litmus test will come on the road vs Arizona, who is ranked #2.

It will be a difficult task to come away with a win down in the desert. If the Zags are undefeated after the 'Zona game, meaning they will have defeated SMU at home and won the NIT Preseason Tourney, we won't be needing anymore koolaid.

Go Zags!!~

September 29, 2014

db4three-life outside a holster

Former Gonzaga star and deep three sniper, Drew Barham, is getting his feet wet w/ Japanese customs and the everyday lifestyle. He has started a blog titled: "db4three-life outside a holster" that chronicles his experiences while in Japan.

After graduation from Gonzaga he signed a pro contract to play professional basketball with the Oita Heat Devils in Beppu, Japan. The duration of the initial contract is for 8 months.

He has been successful in reaching one of his two dreams since childhood, which was to play D1 basketball at the highest level. Now he'll be torching the nets in Japan in the interim, as he hopes to get a shot at his second dream. That, is to become a sharp shooter in the NBA.

We will be following Drew in his quest to reach his second dream, as well as wishing him the best of success! DBforThreeeeeeeeeeeee!

Here is the link to his new Bloghttp://db4three.wordpress.com/?blogsub=confirming#blog_subscription-2

September 27, 2014

Gonzaga's David Stockton gets a Shot with the Wizards

According to Wizard's Insider Jorge Castillo former Gonzaga star David Stockton has signed a contract with the NBA's Washington Wizards to play on their Training Camp Roster.

He played with the Phoenix Sun's summer league team as well as more recently with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz, so he's been getting some pretty good looks.

Although his contract with the Wizards is not guaranteed, he gets a shot at making the team. He will be battling five other signees, which include Daniel Orton and Marquette star Vander Blue during training camp as they battle for the last roster spot available.

Not the best odds for making the final roster but not many gave his father John Stockton much of a chance to make it in the NBA either, yet he became a perennial All-Star with the Utah Jazz and a Hall of Fame player.

Even though he is rather small for a prototypical NBA point guard, David has some of that grit and determination his father was known for. He is also very good at distributing the rock, finding the open man, being disruptive, and otherwise causing havoc on defense. So who knows, maybe he'll surprise us and stick.

In any event, pretty exciting times for a player who started out as a walk-on at Gonzaga. We will definitely be pulling for him to get that last roster spot!

September 25, 2014

Gonzaga looking at Premiere Canadian Recruit Christian David

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few was recently in Ontario, Canada watching 2017 6'5 SG Christian David, who is widely considered one of the premiere prospects in Canada. 

Currently ranked the #1 prospect in the class by North Pole Hoops, he plays for Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton, Ontario. 

He is considered very skilled, an excellent passer with a high basketball I.Q. and was recently named MVP at the NPH hoops showcase. Besides Gonzaga, he is drawing a lot of interest from various top D1 schools. He has offers from Oregon, Baylor, and Illinois. UConn and Michigan have shown interest as well.

Gonzaga has a proven track record of being very successful at acquiring and developing Canadian prospects such as; Kelly Olynyk, Robert Sacre and Kevin Pangos. That alone should put the Zags in a pretty good place with Christian. 

Hopefully GU can continue the trend of landing top talent from Canada, and keep the Canadian pipeline to Gonzaga flowing.

Christian David DP
Via North Pole Hoops: "The rising Filipino star is already very skilled, with a well-rounded game and still growing both physically and as a player–Picture perfect shooting stroke, High I.Q, great length and athleticism, complimented with possibly his most distinguishing characteristic–VISION and passing ability. David’s recruitment exploded after an MVP performance at the Toronto #NPHShowcase this past summer, followed by strong production on the AAU circuit. David currently holds major NCAA offers from Illinois, Baylor, Oregon and St Bonaventure."

*Thanks to North Pole Hoops for the update! Go Zags!

September 18, 2014

Past Zag Star JP Batista Transfers to Limoges CSP of France

One of the greatest Gonzaga bigs of all time, JP Batista, recently was signed to a 2 year professional contract by Limoges CSP of France. They are very excited to get some much needed interior help, as they should be. JP is very powerful, has excellent hands, and is more than a capable scorer, hitting .589 from the field at Gonzaga in the 2005/6 season. He was also money at the free throw line ave. .833%. JP scored 19 points per game, along with approx 10 rebounds and 28 blocks.

He also has a ton of international experience playing for several pro teams as well as being on Brazil's National Team (they won the FIBA World Championship in 2010).

Best of success to JP in the continuance of his career at Limoges!. We'll be following his career and keep you updated.

Here is an article we ran across regarding his transfer (translated):

Limoges CSP recorded his first recruit for the next two seasons with the signing of Brazilian Joao Paulo Batista pivot .

Emblematic figure of the Pro since 2008, item 5 is a real support inside point with a sense of play and very good "hands" that make him a constant threat to his opponents.

"Trained at the American University of Gonzaga , "JP " Batista is a connoisseur of the continental basketball since 2006, he attended the MSB sign in 2008 and made ​​it a cornerstone of his game , winning passage Cup France and the week of the Aces in 2009 and the Leaders Cup in 2014, he was the MVP, after a quarter -final against the hard CSP .

A collection of trophy in addition to the Baltic League in 2007 and doubled championship Latvia / Euro cup in 2008!

International brazilian limougeaud the new pivot will bring to his new team a wealth of experience of the European and global basketball for the next two seasons."

September 17, 2014

Gonzaga, the Land of Giants: not just a recent trend

Gonzaga's Jean-Claude Lefebvre towers over vehicle

Lately, and it feels a bit odd for me to say this because GU has a reputation as "Guard U", but Gonzaga has become known for recruiting and acquiring international big men. I am talking about the 7' variety. Kelly Olynyk, Robert Sacre, Przemek Karnowski, and Domantas Sabonis setting the recent trend. (*editors note- Gonzaga's Will Foster not included in list as he was not an international recruit. He was from Bonny Lake, Wa. and stood 7'5 with shoes making him perhaps the largest Zag of all time. I say perhaps because Jean Claude was purported to be 7'4 w/out shoes by some.) 

With what felt almost like a paradigm shift in recruiting, I became curious; was this simply a recent trend, or had there been others? To my surprise, it turns out the Zags first landed a behemoth basketball player over a half century ago. His name was Jean-Claude Lefebvre. He stood 7'3 (some say 7'4) without shoes and weighed in at 280 lbs. This was in 1957. At that time he was the largest college basketball player in the world. The average height of a man then in France was 5'5 so his kind of size was very rare.

Born in France, he didn't like basketball as it was considered a tall man's game and he was not a fan of his own height. He resisted efforts by many to play the game. Eventually he relented and played two very successful years for the French National Team. During this time he caught the attention of Whitworth Coach James McGregor who recommended him to Gonzaga. Jean signed with Gonzaga in 1957 and the city was buzzing with anticipation. The local Spokane newspaper, the Spokesman Review, even ran a headline declaring "Gonzaga Snags Giant."

Jean-Claude had a huge appetite and was known for having, among other things, three milk shakes and one and a half gallons of orange juice per day. He was so big that special beds had to be made for him at Gonzaga as well as specially made shoes. The largest athletic shoes available at the time were size 17. Those were made for the gigantic professional heavyweight boxer named Primo Carnera. The problem was that Jean-Claude needed size 21s, so they had to rush order custom ones!

In his first game as a Zag he scored 50 points vs Whitworth College. Once a giant cardboard cutout was even used (a likeness of Jean) to assist Idaho College in preparation for shooting higher against the Zag's French Giant. It was held up by their diminutive assistant coach (see picture below).

His career at GU was hampered due to knee injuries and he also became homesick. After his second season he went back to France. Jean-Claude was drafted #64 by the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers in 1960, becoming the first Frenchman ever drafted. He was hopeful of playing for his country in the Olympics but unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized. It also ended his chance to play in the NBA. 

He passed away in 1999. RIP big fella and thanks for anchoring the Zags... aka- BIGs U.

Photo: Courtesy of Gonzaga University Archives

* Gonzaga's senior guard Chuck Redmond stands next to Jean Claude in above pic. 

September 16, 2014

The Brodies-An Introduction

Some of our Zags having some fun and they can play waay above the rim...niice! This definitely is the most athletic team GU has ever fielded. The upcoming season promises to be a fun one!!~

September 7, 2014

NIT Season Tip-Off Field Set, Gonzaga with 4 Games

Among the major stories of Gonzaga's offseason was the headache of the NIT Season Tip-Off. We have been putting together a schedule tracker to record all of Gonzaga's 2014-15 games as we learn about them, but it has been difficult to do so with the undetermined state of the Nit Season Tip-Off. Gonzaga had been invited as a host for this annual multi-team tournament, but the organizers could not find the usual number of teams (16) for this event.

This week we finally received good news that Gonzaga would still be playing in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The tournament is set, the field contains 10 teams (2 of which are from the Division-2 level), and Gonzaga gained 3 more games to be broadcast on the ESPN networks. The Zags get 2 home games. The first home game is against the only other team in this event that played in the NCAA tournament last season (Saint Joseph's). The other home contest is against a Divison-2 opponent (St. Thomas Aquinas). The Zags also are guaranteed to play 2 games at Madison Square Garden in New York against participants of last year's NIT (Georgia and one of Minnesota or St. John's).

Here are the scheduled games for Gonzaga in this tournament (all times pacific):

Nov. 19: Saint Jospeh's @ Gonzaga (8:00 PM on ESPNU)

Nov. 22: St. Thomas Aquinas (D2) @ Gonzaga (Time & TV TBD)

Nov. 26: Gonzaga vs. Georgia @ Madison Square Garden in New York (6:30 PM on ESPN2)

Nov. 28: Gonzaga vs. Minnesota/St. John's @ Madison Square Garden in New York (1:30 PM on ESPNU or 4:00 PM on ESPN2)

If the Zags lose in the matchup against Georgia on Nov. 26, they would face the loser of the Minnesota/St. John's game on Nov. 28 at 1:30 PM on ESPNU. If the Zags win against Georgia, they would play the winner of the Minnesota/St.John's game at 4:00 PM on ESPN2.

Check out other games on Gonzaga's 2014-15 season schedule HERE.

August 26, 2014

The NIT Season Tip-Off still filled with issues

Gonzaga has been scheduled as a host in the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off for a long time now, but even as the next season keeps approaching, this tournament still appears to be a complete mess.

It's been a while since an official source gave us an update on where the NIT Season Tip-Off stands. The last official update came on July 21, but that was discouraging news, as is the following news.

Below is a video released today (Aug. 26, 2014) from ESPN.com's Andy Katz telling us at the 1:50 mark that there is still an issue with how this multi-team tournament will be formatted. Will there still be 4 games for each team in the filed or will it be shortened? Will more teams be added to the field, and if so, will all those added teams be at the D1 level?

Here's a written transcript for what Andy Katz says in the video:

The NIT, the Season Tip-Off, the Preseason, as it used to be called, but the NIT Season Tip-Off still wrestling this week on what to do with its format with only 8 teams.

The 8 schools still don't know if they're going to get 4 games out of this, if there is gonna be 2 games at a neutral court at Madison Square Garden.

The coaches telling me that they're still wondering and waiting to find out hopefully later this week.

Phil Martelli, St. Joes, is one of the 4 schools that is not a host. The 4 hosts are Gonzaga, Georgia, St. John's, and Minnesota.

Martelli telling me that one scenario he was told is that these 4 schools that aren't the hosts would get 1 home game, they would get 1 road game, they would play 1 game at Madison Square Garden, and then they may play a game against a non-Division 1 to fill it out to get the 4 games they normally get with the NIT Season Tip-Off.

August 21, 2014

Gonzaga’s 2014 Edition-What’s in the Tank: Gary Bell Jr.

Gary Bell Jr. was a hot commodity coming out of High School. He was rated #53 on ESPN’s Super 60 list. A lot of colleges were vying for his talents, including Gonzaga’s head Coach Mark Few, who had been recruiting him for a long time. Few won the recruiting battle, but it wasn’t easy.

Some say that the hiring of Coach Donny Daniels played a part in Gary’s decision, but speculation aside, we do know that Coach Few told him he would “put the ball in his hands.”

Coach Few kept his promise, and Gary was very productive in his first six games as a freshman coming off the bench. That led to a start against Michigan State and he never looked back.

Over the next three years he has been instrumental in Gonzaga’s continued success. He also has quietly gotten better in several key statistical categories along the way. Last season he had career highs in rebounds, steals, field goal %, and points, averaging 11.0 per game. Additionally, he was once again deadly as a deep sniper, torching the nets at 43%.

What makes this impressive is that he has also been the Zag’s lock-down defensive specialist. He has been called upon night in and night out to stalk and otherwise harass opponent’s best players. That expends a lot of extra energy.

But what makes this even more impressive is that frequently he has been fighting though some kind of injury. Be it a broken hand, or an injured foot, or knee surgery. It seems like he is rarely playing at 100% for long, yet he still gets it done. 

Bell is now a polished veteran with one more chance to put it together. He has a multitude of skills along with his experience. If he can remain healthy, he should have his best season yet which will hopefully help propel the Zags deep into the NCAA Tourney.