by Mike Bookey
When it was announced in 2010 that BYU would be entering the WCC, some Gonzaga basketball fans saw it as nothing less than the first sign of the apocalypse.
You probably heard the following: “They’ll ruin the conference!” “They can’t play on Sundays!” “Their arena is too big!” “Utah isn’t on the West Coast!” “Their players are married, balding and boring!” “They have their own TV network!”
Gonzaga at BYU
8 pm., ESPN2
The less-alarmist fans (the majority) out there, however, welcomed the Cougars — who were in the top 10 and Jimmer-equiped — upon the announcement and their national following, seeing it as a boost for the conference. And tonight — finally, thanks to the bizarre scheduling philosophy of WCC officials — the Zags will play BYU down in Provo.
It's a rematch of a second-round game from last year's NCAA tournament, in which the Zags got thumped. There will be no Jimmer this time around, however.
BYU has hardly proved the dominant force those alarmists in Zag Nation thought they might be. They’ve already been handily beaten by Saint Mary’s twice and had their asses handed to them by Loyola Marymount — at home nonetheless. And their fans have had a rough time adjusting to the WCC, too. They showered the court with garbage in Saturday night’s loss to SMC. Classy.
Currently tied for third in the conference, BYU could still give the Zags some fits, especially if they get hot from behind the three-point line. Here's a few other things GU should keep an eyeball on.
Noah Hartsock: This guy can get hot and is a force around the basket and off the dribble. He dropped in 22 in an impressive road win at Virginia Tech last month.
Brandon Davies: Yes, this is the guy who was kicked off the team last year for violating BYU’s “no acting like a real college student” rules, but Sacre and Harris are going to have their hands full with this guy. He averages about eight boards a game but snagged a staggering 22 rebounds earlier this season against San Diego. But watch for the Zags to go straight at Davies. The guy is a foul machine.
The Three Ball: These guys toss three balls like they’re caffeine-free Pepsis. If they start hitting, they’ll be in the game. If not, they’ll be struggling.
Romney Marriot Center: There will be 22,000 people at this game, and it will be loud as hell. Hopefully the Zags can keep from getting spooked.