It seems like only yesterday when Gonzaga and Adam Morrison, and J.P. Batista, almost instantly established the Zags' identity and became a bonafide national championship contender. It was Feast Week on ESPN and it only took two days to witness one of the greatest classics of the season, a triple-overtime thriller by GU over Tom Izzo's highly regarded Michigan State Spartans that had TV analysts raving and Hawaiians buzzing.
This year has started differently... But it's still Feast Week, and another classic could very well be in store.
Last year, GU started out by beating Idaho with a lackluster effort. This year, GU almost had Eastern Washington by 30 before coasting to a convincing win.
Last year, GU opened the Maui Invitation by beating Maryland by 12. This year, GU opened the NIT Season Tipoff by beating Rice by 38. Last year, GU beat Michigan State by 3 before losing to Uconn by 2 in the championship game in Maui. This year, GU went up by 19 over Baylor before winning by 9, then whipped an undermanned Texas-San Antonio squad by 42.
In fact, through four games this year the Bulldogs have had no less than a 19 point lead at some point in its games. Last year, Gonzaga didn't have four leads like that all season!
But is it a true indicator of how good these Zags are, or is it Fools Gold? North Carolina will help Zag fans answer that question on Wednesday.
The Tar Heels are a storied program with tradition that rivals any school in the country. Two season ago Roy Williams' team won it all. And now there's a good chance he could do it again in 2007.
Tyler Hansbrough (23ppg, 12rpg), Bobby Frasor (3ppg), Wayne Ellington (14ppg), Rayshawn Terry (10ppg), Brandan Wright (14.3ppg), Ty Lawson (9.3ppg), Marcus Ginyard (4.3ppg) and plenty more McDonald's All-American types await the Zags, with Hansbrough being something truly special.
Derek Raivio will be called on for big games in NYC.
Mark Few and Gonzaga will try to duplicate last year's Feast Week and make a great game of it, an insta-classic. Josh Heytvelt, Derek Raivio, Sean Mallon, Jeremy Pargo, Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespides, Abdullahi Kuso, Matt Bouldin, David Pendergraft and others will counter the Who's Who lineup of North Carolina.
GUnation.com predicts a close, entertaining game, but the Zags cannot win it unless they play better than they have in their first four games.
So, is Gonzaga real gold or Fools Gold? We think a little of both at this early stage of the season, with the potential to eventually evolve into the real oro.
Speaking of McDonald's All-Americans, Micah Downs has had more than his share of tough luck this fall. First, surgery to remove a bone chip in his ankle, then a stress reaction in his foot, now a broken foot.
He wasn't going to be eligible (due to transfer rules) until December 15. While many believe his latest injury will cost him the entire season, GUnation.com can see Micah returning as early as February 1, a month and a half later than hoped for but early enough for Mark Few to ease him into the main rotation and be in sync for the all-important month of March. A 6'7" athletic, sharpshooting wing would be enthusiastically welcomed by GU.
That said, a medical redshirt could be an option... But no redshirt is guaranteed to be granted by the NCAA when a redshirt year already had to be used for D1 to D1 transfer purposes. In fact, a second redshirt (medical or otherwise) is unlikely. Very similar to Heytvelt's injury in timing (Feast Week) and in redshirt situation (broken ankle) last year.
Getting back to Madison Square Garden, GUnation.com expects Gonzaga to welcome 2008 guard recruit Jordan Theodore to the games; he lives in nearby Paterson, NJ.
2009 Gonzaga commit Brock Osweiler, a 6'8" 220 PF from Kalispell, MT, attended the 92-48 GU blowout of UT-San Antonio, and he and his family plan to attend the upcoming Idaho and Washington games in The Kennel.