Jameer Nelson, Jameer Nelson, Jameer Nelson. He's a lightning quick, multi-talented, smart, savvy, NBA-calibre point guard extradordinaire who will tipoff his senior season against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. How to stop Nelson is a question that even the best coaches have trouble answering. It is not unrealistic to expect Jameer to score 30 points or more, and add on multiple assists. He'll get his points from long-range or slashing inside. Either way, he'll get his points. If an opposing team wants to beat St. Joe's, it is imperative to stop their other guards, beginning with...
Delonte West. But stopping the junior shooting guard is nearly as tough as stopping Nelson. West is an awesome 2 guard. At 6'3", he has the size and quicks and shot to do heavy damage.
So Gonzaga will have to pick their poison, so to speak. When you add senior guard/wing Pat Carroll or Ty Barley, the poison becomes even more difficult to choose. Carroll can be a killer shooter from outside and Barley is a defensive gem.
If Gonzaga has an edge, it's the frontline. That doesn't mean St. Joe's is bad, their big men do a great job of knowing their roles and understanding that the guards come first but they must provide balance.
6'11" Dwayne Jones appears to be the best of the bigs, a shot-blocker who has developed enough offense to keep teams honest. 7'0" Artur Surov, 6'8" Robert Ferguson, 6'9" Arvydas Lidzius and 6'7" John Bryant comprise a sizable frontline, but all are freshmen or sophs, save for Bryant. 6'10" Dave Mallon is out with an injury. This group won't dazzle anyone but they'll play hard and do the little things.
Coach Phil Martelli has himself a top-20 team with superb leadership and as much talent as St. Joe's fans have ever seen. And he is a very good coach. If Coach Mark Few hopes to win this game...
Gonzaga's backcourt of Blake Stepp, Erroll Knight, Tony Skinner, Kyle Bankhead and Derek Raivio must counter the vaunted Hawk guards, nearly point for point, and defend defend defend. If the Zags can post bigger guards down low against St. Joe's smaller guards, that would be a plus.
After two years of last second heroics between these two teams, look for another close barnburner in Madison Square Garden on ESPN2!
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