As Steven Gray told last night, Gonzaga's season (and his college career) is extended two more days here in Denver. The Bulldogs face Brigham Young University in the third round (I hate that they call it that now...it should still be the second round) of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The winner earns a trip to the Sweet 16 in New Orleans next week.
Gonzaga and BYU both have a closed practice at the Pepsi Center today. That means the public and the media aren't allowed in. That way the squads can just focus on themselves and their opponents. The two teams also have a media availability this afternoon. BYU is on the stage from 2:10pm-2:25pm (PT), while Gonzaga gets in front of the cameras at 2:55pm-3:10pm (PT). We'll stream both of those pressers live on KREM.com, so stay tuned!
UPDATE: Apparently we had some issues with the feed from the Pepsi Center back in Spokane, so we weren't able to stream the press conferences live. I'm really, really, really sorry about that. I did snap a few pictures during today's media availability. I snapped a picture of BYU's Jackson Emery fielding questions from the media and I also captured a shot of Kelly Olynyk getting some love from a Canadian television station. I also let Olynyk interview Sam Dower in the locker room. Click here for a link to that video (it's really entertaining). Needless to say, the Bulldogs seemed really loose today.
The matchup between the Bulldogs and Cougars is interesting on several different levels. One of the most intriguing storylines is what's going to happen next year. BYU is making a move to the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga. That means this is a preview of what's to come in the WCC. We'll talk to both teams about that today. Believe it or not, this will be the first ever meeting between GU and BYU.
When you talk about the Cougars, you have to talk about Jimmer Fredette. He's the top scorer in the country, averaging 28.5 points per game. He's easily the most popular player here in Denver. I was sitting courtside during BYU's game against Wofford, and every single fan's sign in the Pepsi Center had to do with Fredette. Don't be surprised if you see signs during Saturday's broadcast on KREM 2 (4:45pm (PT) start) saying "You've been Jimmered" or "Jimmer Fever".
You also can't talk about BYU without mentioning Brandon Davies. He was the Cougars third leading scorer (11.1 points per game) before he was suspended for the rest of the season for breaking the school's honor code (he was scolded for having premarital "relations" with his girlfriend). BYU is a different team without his skill (he's missed their last six games), but they also really miss his size. At 6'9", he was one of the tallest players on the team (only James Anderson (6'10") is taller).
I think it's safe to say Gonzaga looked incredible last night against St. John's. They had a game plan and they executed it to perfection. The Bulldogs wanted to control the tempo and use size to their advantage, and they accomplished both. GU pounded the rock inside early and often against the Red Storm. That opened up the entire offense, leading to 86 points (the second most points St. John's allowed all season). The Bulldogs' defense was also ferocious (especially Demetri Goodson and Marquise Carter). There's really nothing bad you can say about Gonzaga's performance (except that maybe they didn't finish strong enough, according to Steven Gray).
The Bulldogs were unbelievable on the glass. They outrebounded St. John's 42-17 (they've since adjusted those numbers to 43-20 overnight). That's the most dominating performance I've ever heard of in an NCAA Tournament game. Gonzaga's shooting was also lights out. They buried an impressive 60% from three-point range, and 54% from the field overall. Those are the stats that really stick out to me. If Gonzaga plays like that again on Saturday, they'll be tough to beat (the most obvious statement on the planet).
How about Marquise Carter? That kid has a bright future! He scored a career-high 24 points in his first ever NCAA Tournament game. Like I mentioned before, he also played great defense. He fell late in the game and hurt his wrist. He had ice on it after the game, but Mark Few said he thinks Marquise is OK during his postgame press conference. Robert Sacre also had ice on his left wrist after the game. When I asked him about it, he said, "It's a small thing to a giant" (with a big smile on his face).
Speaking of postgame interviews, we have the uncut press conferences with Gonzaga and St. John's posted right now on KREM.com. Click here for all the goods!
Don't forget that I'm tweeting throughout the day in Denver. You can follow me @TLKREM2 for all the latest pictures, stories, etc. It's also your direct link to me if you have any questions or comments. I always enjoy some good conversation.
Here are some of the pictures I posted to Twitter during the game last night: Gonzaga on the floor before the game, first half action, second half action, and Spike rocking out with the team in the background.
UPDATE: I have two stories to share with you...
The first one happened last night (I don't know how I forgot to share this earlier). We got done with work really late, so we didn't have many options for dinner. We drove to this little dive down the street from our hotel called Pete's Kitchen. While we were there, someone apparently pulled a knife on another patron in the bathroom. There was also another guy who tried to dine-and-dash, but he was caught. I blame St. Patrick's Day for all of this (a picture I took earlier in the day). They didn't serve booze at the restaurant, but the place still reeked like alcohol.
The second story happened to a station from Salt Lake City. They went to get their car from the valet attendants at the hotel, but they couldn't find their rental. It sounds like they gave the car to someone who was posing to be them. They had all sorts of television equipment in the car. They're checking the surveillance video to try to find whoever took the car, but I don't know how much luck they'll have.
That's all I have for tonight! I'll have a preview posted tomorrow.