Round 1: Zags vs. Winthrop

The Big South Conference champions Winthrop Eagles come into Round 1 of the NCAA Tourney full of confidence. We break down the Eagles from South Carolina.


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HEAD COACH: Winthrop is fronted by 6th year head coach Gregg Marshall, who landed the job in April 1998 after previous stints as an assistant coach at Marshall and at the College of Charleston.

THIS SEASON: The Eagles are 27-5 so far this season. They won the Big South regular season title by 4 full games, and also won the Big South conference tournament. They are riding an 18 game winning streak into the NCAA tournament. Their best win is Providence at Providence, and they share one common foe with Gonzaga in WCC member Portland, losing by only 6 in Portland.

PROJECTED STARTERS:

PG – #10 Chris Gaynor (5-10, Fr.) = 6.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3 RPG, 37% FG, 32% 3PT, 66% FT. Gaynor is a true point guard who doesn't look to score much, but who distributes the ball well, plays solid defense, and runs the team well. He has a very good 2.1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.

SG - #12 Torrell Martin (6-5, So.) = 12.8 PPG, 1.9 APG, 4.5 RPG, 49% FG, 42% 3PT, 74% FT. Martin is Winthrop's leading scorer, and an all conference performer. He takes control in big games, and can score in bunches. He is highly athletic, defends well and rebounds splendidly for a guard.

SF - #0 James Shuler (6-6, Jr.) = 12.1 PPG, 3.1 APG, 4.3 RPG, 45% FG, 37% 3PT, 78% FT. Shuler is arguably Winthrop's best player, and is another all league performer. Shuler has a nice inside/out game. He has a strong body which works well underneath and enables him to get to the charity stripe quite a lot. Improving defensively. He is the leader of this young squad.

PF - #33 Phillip Williams (6-8, So.) = 7.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 54% FG, 49% 3PT, 69% FT. Williams tends to play on the outside for a big. He has a nice shooting stroke from the outside, and he runs the floor well. Can be overpowered in the post at times.

C - #5 Craig Bradshaw (6-10, So.) = 8.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 46% FG, 44% 3PT, 67% FT. Bradshaw played (albeit sparingly) for New Zealand's Olympic team in Athens. He is also a big who prefers to shoot from the outside. Inside game is improving, but he is foul prone.

KEY RESERVES:

SG/SF - # 22 Otis Daniels (6-5, Jr.) = 8.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 56% FG, 36% 3PT, 56% FT. Daniels is a transfer from Garden-Webb. He's an emotional player off the bench, and likes to mix it up in the paint.

C - #30 Billy Houston (6-8, Jr.) = 4.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 48 FG%, 62% FT. Houston is a fine shot blocker, and is a banger underneath with solid rebounding skills.

Rexson Kenley (#4, 6-0, Jr.) is a quick backup point guard, Michael Jenkins (#11, 6-3, Fr.) and Brandon Key (#20, 6-1, Sr.) provide additional depth at the guard spot, and Scott Draughn (#32, 6-6, Fr.) is a backup wing.

IN SUMMARY:

Winthrop's style is predicated on playing tough defense-first and a deliberate style on offense, all of which is designed to keep the score low, preferably in the 60's. They will pass up a good shot with an extra pass for a great shot. The Eagles are disciplined and do a good job of keeping games close and, therefore, winnable. It will be important for Gonzaga to assert its will and try to dictate a faster tempo than Winthrop prefers.


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