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Gonzaga Blog: All eyes turn to Syracuse

Gonzaga Blog: All eyes turn to Syracuse

by Tim Lewis, KREM 2 Sports Director


Posted on March 20, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 21 at 12:43 AM

It was a pretty slow day in Buffalo, but I can't say it was quiet. Every team still alive here (Missouri, West Virginia, Syracuse, and Gonzaga) held a closed practice at HSBC Arena and also met with the media again. For the Bulldogs, all questions now focus on Syracuse.

The Orange are as tough as they come...gifted on the offensive and defensive end. Gonzaga expects Syracuse to be the fastest team they've faced this year. Every Bulldog we talked to today said it will be key to slow down their transition offense. I watched some of their game against Vermont yesterday...they start sprinting down the floor the second they gain possession. It wasn't just last night either...the Orange ranked sixth in the country this season by scoring 81.5 points per game.

When you talk about Syracuse...you also have to talk about their 2x3 defense (they run it better than anyone else in the country). Kelly Olynyk told me today that the Orange are so efficient it's like they play with six players on defense. The key will be to spread the zone as much as possible. Steven Gray said the Zags can't be afraid to put the ball inside (speaking of...Gray needs to be more careful with his passes), while Mark Few said Gonzaga must step up and make shots to break the zone down.

Robert Sacre appears to have become an overnight sensation. His 13 points, nine rebounds, and electric personality last night attracted hoards of media today (check out this picture I snapped). More people wanted to talk to Robert than anyone else today...usually Matt Bouldin is the biggest draw.

I told you in yesterday's postgame blog that Demetri Goodson hurt his shoulder early in the game against Florida State. I asked him about his shoulder (it's his left shoulder) again today. He said it's still pretty sore, but he'll be OK for tomorrow's game.

The Gonzaga locker room opened right at the end of the St. Mary's/Villanova game. They had the game on the TV in there. All of the players who were watching seemed pretty surprised by the outcome. I even overheard Grant Gibbs say, "Wow...St. Mary's?" I don't know how many of you will respond to this, but I think the Gaels' victory is great for the West Coast Conference.

There was a funny moment between the Gonzaga and Syracuse locker rooms today. Mark Few was walking down the hallway after his portion of the press conference and he crossed paths with Jim Boeheim (here is a picture I took of the encounter). The two started joking around with each other and Boeheim called Few a "scratch" fisherman. Few responded by saying he was more like a +1 or a +2. The two are obviously close friends (they wound up talking for about ten minutes).

We wandered around Buffalo a little bit today in search of Gonzaga fans, but they are hard to find. I talked to someone with the university yesterday and he told me the team sold tickets to about 330 fans (there were a few other stragglers scattered around the crowd yesterday). In a building that fits 19, 200 fans...that's not much of a dent. Expect every other seat in that building to be filled with Orange fans tomorrow (Syracuse is just 140 miles away from Buffalo). It's going to be a home game atmosphere for the top-seed in the tournament. With that said, the Bulldogs have done well in large hostile environments (like Memphis and Illinois).

You can find plenty of sound from today's press conferences (Gonzaga and Syracuse) right now on KREM.com. Click here for all the goods.

I'm not sure how much people are talking about it, but no one is giving Mark Few his due credit over here. Few became the winningest coach in Gonzaga history with last night's win against Florida State. With 291 career victories, Few passed Hank Anderson on the school's all-time list. The biggest difference between the two...Mark Few did it in 11 seasons, while it took Anderson 21 years (1952-1972) to win 290 games. We talked to Few about the feat today...hear from him on KREM 2 News at 10pm and 11pm.

Tomorrow is also the one year anniversary of Demetri Goodson's buzzer-beater against Western Kentucky. The coast-to-coast game-winner sent the Bulldogs into the Sweet 16 against North Carolina. Again, we talked to Goodson today about one of the most memorable shots in Gonzaga history and how it changed his life. We also asked Matt Bouldin about his memories of the play. You can see that feature story tonight on KREM 2 News as well. Unfortunately, we can't put NCAA Tournament highlights online (it's a major violation of the rules), so you can only see these stories on television.

Also watch for in-depth previews of Sunday's showdown against Syracuse. We'll hear from both teams as they prepare for battle. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:10am (PT), so make sure your alarm is set. I'm questioning if I'll be able to sleep at all.

A lot of people have asked me if I think Gonzaga has a chance and I tell them definitely! One of Syracuse's top players Arinze Onuaku will not play again tomorrow (according to Boeheim), so that should help the cause. That's not the only reason I believe the Zags can pull off the upset (Syracuse is now a seven point favorite). I guess it's just a gut feeling.

I want to remind you that you can follow me on Twitter for constant updates and pictures throughout the day. Thanks to everyone who has followed along and passed along great compliments on our coverage.

Before I sign off for the night (online at least...I'll be live in Buffalo for our late shows), I want to give a huge shout out to the great people of Buffalo. We've encountered some strange individuals in this city, but almost everyone else that we've bumped into have been awesome. The people here really are very, very helpful. I was also really surprised that most of them have a Midwest accent (Buffalo is just three hours from Ohio). I was expecting a New York accent, but that's not the case.

That's all I have for tonight! Have a great night! I'll catch up with you tomorrow.

Go Zags!!! 

UPDATE 10:45pm (PT): I just wanted pass along another link...Chris Bach put together his preview of Sunday's game. Click here to read what he has to say about the Syracuse/Gonzaga matchup.

I also wanted to post a link to some funny video we got last night after the Florida State win. Manny Arop really wanted to interview Robert Sacre, so we let him ask his teammate a question. I think Manny has a bright future in broadcasting! Check out the video.