Remember how a coupla weeks back, I said I’d never been more excited for an NBA basketball season? Well hey, the Raps are 9-2, tops in the East…aaaaaaand they even beat the league-leading Grizzlies last night. But I gotta say, halfway through the first full week of college hoops, I’m even more excited for NCAA basketball right now. In fact, I’ve never been this excited about my Gonzaga Bulldogs since, well, March of last year, when they finished the regular season atop the AP polls. And yes, I even bought the t-shirt–more than one!
No need to talk about that year’s tourney; let’s just say I hate Wichita State more than Adam Morrison hates UCLA, and leave it at that. But hey, this season’s Zags could be even better than either the Morrison or Kelly Olynyk-led squads–hell, none other than ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Nate Silver of seeding teams, has them in his preseason Final Four. Perhaps the fact that they utterly annihilated his alma matter last night had something to do with it?
Granted, it was a late tip on the East Coast, but I went to bed with Gonzaga leading St. Joe’s 48-10 at the half. And the Hawks (no, not Seattle) wouldn’t even get 48 points the entire game, as the Zags handed them the worst loss in the entire history of their basketball program, 94-42. Mind you, that St. Joe’s team lost a lotta key players since last year’s tournament appearance…but said soul-destroying defeat came just two days after GU dispatched 22-ranked SMU with relative ease, holding the top-25 school to just 56 points in the process. Hell, the team that’s put up the highest score against Gonzaga so far was lowly Sacramento State. They lost 104-58, BTW.
But we’re not just doing it on defence. This team scores mad buckets, with the kind of post presence not seen since the Harris/Olynyk/Dower days. Przemek “Polish Shaq” Karnowski, a 7’1″ freshman on that top-ranked team, has started to come into his own in his junior year–but so far, he’s been outshone by a current frosh, Lithuania’s Domantas “Son of” Sabonis. (Perhaps you’ve heard of his dad?) Add in the inside/outside threat of 6’10” Kyle Wiltjer, who transferred from Kentucky to Gonzaga to become the next Olynyk, and you’ve got a three-headed monster that would eat Duncan, Robinson and Will Perdue for breakfast! (OK fine, probably just Will Perdue.)
And that’s not to overlook the backcourt, anchored by four-year starters Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin “Captain Canada” Pangos. Andrew Wiggins gets all the hype, but if you’re looking for the next Steve Nash, look no farther than Pangos. The kid has lit it up since Day One, dropping 33 points and nine threes in just his second college game. He’s also had a spot on the Cousy Award watch list his entire career, and now that he’s fully healthy, Pangos might actually win the thing–provided that Gonzaga goes deep in the tourney.
Hey, I know I went to Vegas to see the 2012-13 team, but this season, I’ve got Seattle on my mind. No, I’m not talking about that game against Cal Poly…but rather the second/third rounds of the NCAAs, where the Zags should have the home-state court advantage, as long as they secure a top-four seed. Right now, that doesn’t look to be an issue, but there’s still lotsa games left to play. Personally, I’m practically shittin’ mah britches for their Dec. 6 tilt against second-ranked Arizona–a possible Final Four preview, perhaps?
Don’t even ask me what I’m doing the Saturday after next, cuz I’ll be watching college basketball!
(OK, so I might only need one screen that time…)