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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
Dale Goodwin, Director
Peter Tormey, Associate Director
|Tracking the Zags No. 7: Game Day vs. Indiana|
By Peter Tormey
SALT LAKE CITY -- The clouds all morning gave way at noontime to a beautiful azure sky, and the warm sunshine seemed to put smiles on everyone’s faces until the clouds returned in the early afternoon today, Game Day for Zag Nation members as they scurry about town and in their hotels preparing for tip-off this evening at 5:10 p.m. (PST).
The No. 3 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the No. 6 seed Indiana Hoosiers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the 15,000-seat Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. The winner earns the right to advance to the “Sweet Sixteen.” For Gonzaga, that means a trip to Oakland, Calif., for a regional game Thursday, March 23.
Gonzaga has not made it past the first two rounds in each of the past three seasons. So the media here have talked much about a coach’s reputation being made, for good or ill, during the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga Coach Mark Few disagrees, however, and said such a perception is unfair and shallow.
“I think that’s very shallow,” Few said at a media briefing Friday afternoon at the Huntsman Center. “Coaching is about the entire journey. It’s talking to your guys, the individual workouts in September and October, the weight-lifting, the preseason practices, the games,” he said. “We had 28 wins this year. We went 16-0 in our league. But it seems people are really fixated on the tournament.”
Against Indiana, the Zags face an unusual lineup of four guards, ranging in height from senior Marshall Strickland at 6-foot-2 to the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard/forward Robert Vaden, and their leading scorer, senior forward Marco Killingsworth. The 6-foot-8 268-pound left-handed Killingsworth is the leading scorer for the Hoosiers, averaging 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Strickland, who finished with nine against the Aztecs, is only 12 points away from becoming the 33 rd IU player in school history to score 1,100 career points. Vaden drained five three-pointers against the Aztecs, tying the NCAA Tournament opening-round, single-game record.
Hoosiers’ junior 6-foot-3 guard Earl Calloway had a career performance against San Diego State on Thursday, finishing with 18 points and six steals -- an NCAA Tournament opening-round, single-game record. The Hoosiers are lightning-quick on defense, ripping off a season-high 11 steals against the Aztecs, another NCAA Tournament opening-round, single-game record.
Overall, IU forced 16 Aztec turnovers that translated into 23 points for this storied program. They have been both prolific and consistent ball-stealers. Indiana has forced 20-plus opponent turnovers six times this season and is 5-1 in those games.
In the paint, Indiana outscored San Diego State 51-28, their biggest point differential this season. They have outscored opponents a dozen times in the paint this season, and are 11-1 when they have done so.
The Hoosiers also are deadly from three-point range, connecting on eight against the Aztecs, marking the 18 th time they have made eight or more from long-range this season; Indiana is 13-5 when they have made eight or more from downtown.
This game marks the first time that the Hoosiers have faced a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament since March 26, 1992, when they defeated Florida State 85-74 at the NCAA West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M., en route to the Final Four.
Indiana Coach Mike Davis, who turned in his resignation in mid-February reportedly under intense pressure from the school to win more games, is 7-3 in the NCAA Tournament and will step down when his team is finished in this tournament.
Davis acknowledged he has no answer for Gonzaga scoring phenom Adam Morrison.
“He’s the leading scorer in the country,” Davis said. “We don’t really have anyone who can guard him. We will try to make it tough on him but we can’t focus on him too much because if we do it’s going to take away from what we are trying to do.”
Strickland concurs. “I don’t think we should get too caught up in trying to stop him. He’s a great player and he’s going to get his points,” Strickland said, adding that the Hoosiers faced the other Player of the Year candidate, J.J. Reddick of Duke, earlier this year. “We threw a lot of guys against J.J. and I’m sure we will against him (Morrison).”
The fact that this could be Davis’ last game as a Hoosier coach could be a major motivating factor for the Hoosiers. It certainly will be for Davis.
“I want to go out on top because I want these guys to have great memories of their college career,” Davis said.
Morrison said the Zags have experience in this sort of tournament play, most recently from the Maui Invitational, and they will be ready.
“I think the Maui tournament helped us for this type of tournament,” he said. “We play Maryland one day, then we go into triple overtime against Michigan State. Then we turn around and play probably the best team in the country in U-Conn and we lose by two at the buzzer. If you don’t have the emotion or energy to get up for this then you shouldn’t be playing basketball.”
Asked why his name continues to pop up in rumors about vacant head coaching jobs elsewhere, Few said he is happy at Gonzaga.
“First, it’s not my doing. And second, it does come up. I’m professional in my actions. I can show that I’ve been in this place for 17 years, this is my seventh year as head coach, and I enjoy where I am and we have a great thing going where we are,” he said.