Friday, November 10, 2017

Santa Clara Men's Basketball - Game On!






Possibilities, potential, prognostications, premonitions, predictions and maybe throw in a prophecy or two.  Don't forget the pundits. The media and Twitterpaters constantly opine.  

I say, just play...Game on!

For the first time, in a long time, Santa Clara Men's Basketball is a trending topic.  People actually care.  Is this the season we come out of mothballs to show we're for real?  

Hold your horses.  

The media-sphere predicts "this is the year of St. Mary's" in the WCC.  Gonzaga and BYU battle for second, while USF and Santa Clara again race down the stretch to see who claims fourth.

It's all just a nothing burger, an "air-ball."

We think we are the only WCC school to amp up Men's Basketball.  No way.  Ever since Mark Few called out the bottom schools in the league - he lit a fuse that is stoking a "firestorm" of funding around the league to make him eat his words. 

Just Google what's happening at USF, Portland, Pacific, and, of course, Gonzaga is not standing pat. New name coaches, national level practice facilities and overt marketing to expand branding.  Sound familiar?

BTW, it's ironic that St. Mary's is the WCC favorite this year with facilities, that well, are modest at best.  They just win.

Let's play...Game on!

SCU fans and season ticket holders will get to see this coaching staff's first recruiting class.  We have something new.  More depth and, dare I say, more TALENT.  

The coaching staff's # 1 recruiting mantra - to be offered at SCU you must be able to shoot the basketball at a high level.  Some of you are saying "duh", but in the past we accepted projects and hoped for potential.  No more clankers.  

Expect a style of play that is up tempo, fueled by defense, opportunistic in transition, and agnostic as to "who" gets the shot.  News flash, we have shooters.  That's plural.  Pivot from "where's Jared" to there's K.J. or Hauser or Caruso or Vrankic or Healy or Turner and more.

So, Let's play...Game on!

Forget about all the "P" words above.  It's a baloney sandwich.

St. Mary's winning the WCC?  I think not.  BYU?  Lots of scoring punch and something to prove after they underestimated the competition coming back to the WCC.  The Zags?  I think Mark Few has a wry smile on his face right now; relishing the underdog tag when he knows he has some surprises on the roster.

The Broncos?  Depends on how quickly we "learn and improve" which is part of Coach Sendek's four pillars.  The coaching staff has tried to accelerate the learning with a recent scrimmage against Air Force and the exhibition against St. Vincent.  Air Force runs the Princeton offense which has constant motion, lots of backdoor cuts and requires defenses to make many "reads" off picks to stop it. 

Our exhibition against St. Vincent previewed our "go to" game plan.  Starters were K.J., Hauser, "E", Pugh and Caruso, the transfer from Princeton.  It was good to get some reps and see how Coach used the roster.  The team did OK in the blowout.  I have to say Caruso and Vrankic were fun to watch.  Caruso went for a working man's 18 points.  He's a grinder.  Vrankic made some deft passes in the zone from the free throw and baseline for layups and dunks.
  
K.J. looks healthy and stronger and contributed an easy 21 points.

My read.  We will win more.  How far can we go?  We'll see.  The team will be prepared and ready.  To quote the zen of Phil Jackson, "The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success then let go of the outcome."   

For us, as season ticket holders, fans, students and alums, we're not willing to just "let it go."  We're not looking for a trot.  We're looking for a Bronco in full gallop that leaves the "nag" image in the dust so we finally have something to "brag" about!




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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Santa Clara Men's Basketball - Will More Wins - Win Over Students?





NOTE:  This column was published for students in The Santa Clara campus newspaper to give students more background and encourage them to get behind Athletics. 

ICYMI, SCU recently began a long overdue additional funding plan for athletics and programs to build more school visibility. 

Students noticed and last May, Olivia DeGraca, writer for "The Santa Clara " newspaper wrote; "Is Santa Clara Athletics Buying School Spirit?"  Is school spirit more centered on campus clubs, Greek life, or one basketball game vs Gonzaga? 

It's been over 20 years since Santa Clara earned a berth in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.
  
That means that the majority of current students were not born yet!  Therefore, many didn't choose Santa Clara for its athletics, unless you play a sport or are from a family that likes sports.

Since 1996, except for a few programs like women's soccer or volleyball; SCU athletics went off the radar and with it, our sports reputation. 

The Administration went "all in" to develop the Campus infrastructure and it is amazing!  More students and ever increasing tuition means more financial aid and an operating budget to feed this expansion.  

Meanwhile, athletics was on the equivalent of "work scholarship." Until recently, many coaches had to do their own fundraising to make their budgets work.  Imagine asking professors to fundraise so they could conduct a great class?  Unthinkable...

Enter Fr. Engh and the "Commission on Athletics".  The question. "What would a nationally competitive Athletics program mean to the University?"  The answer, enormous untapped potential.

The Trustees approved with a major refocus on Men's Basketball as the enabler of national recognition.  For example, last years NCAA MBB tournament had over 150 million viewers.  

The MBB reboot is in its second year and everything is new and different.  The biggest changes have been the coaching and the culture.  Our new coach is one of the best coaches in college basketball - Herb Sendek.  Check out his WIKI.  He's the real deal.

The culture change is still a work in process under new A.D. Renee Baumgartner.  The past eras of meager resources and low athletics performance expectations are gone.  Winning is in, whining is out.

This culture change includes everyone; alums, season ticket holders, and students.  

Why should students care?  Students have said, "We don't go because; we don't win enough, we don't play any good teams, and we have better things to do with our friends."

I get it.  "Claradise" is a great place.  We all love it...

But as much as SCU is giving and has given to us - we need to "give back" to make it better.
  
Over 70% of current SCU undergrads receive financial aid, nearly 4,000 students.  Ever consider where that money comes from?  BTW, the F/Aid need for fiscal 2018 is $100 Mil!

Many think the university is just "clipping coupons" to meet F/Aid needs.  Nope.   The University endowment of $900 Mil only generates about $37 Mil of the need.  The other $63 Mil must come from fundraising.  

Successful fundraising feeds off visibility.  And THAT's why the University needs Athletics and YOU to help meet your growing F/Aid and strategic needs.  Simply put, whether you have F/Aid or not, SCU is investing in your future.  Why not pay back some early dividends by investing in more school spirit?  

I can assure you SCU Men's basketball will do more winning.   BTW, this seasons schedule includes a good number of NCAA post season qualifiers and seven top 100 RPI teams with Nevada and Valparaiso marquee non-conference home games.  

FYI, last season name wins were vs Valpo on the road and BYU at home.  We took the #2 Zags (NCAA finalists) to the final two minutes in the WCC semi-finals.  SCU was the most improved team in the WCC with 5 more wins year over year.

Most think the way into the NCAA is playing the hardest possible schedule.  Not so. The NCAA at-large selection is all about RPI*.  You need to have just enough "name" wins to finish with a under 75 RPI.

As students do you always choose the hardest classes in your schedule?  Not if you want to optimize your G.P.A.  Those calcs are a lot like RPI calcs.  Just like you may need a good G.P.A. for grad school or a great job, we need a good RPI to have chances for post season tournaments.

Net, net.  There's some very positive "blips" on the Doppler for SCU Men's Basketball and Athletics.

Your teams need your support.  Why do we play stronger against St. Mary's or Gonzaga at home?  You're there and LOUD!  Rowdy. Your teams feed off of it.  

So, give it a shot.  Go.  There's lots of Rough Riders and it's time for the posse to show up.  You are attending SCU at a very special time when you will witness, on the court, the resurgence of Men's basketball.  National.

Trust me.  Your support and spirit will be the "adrenalin" that helps take SCU Athletics to the next level.  The level where our Campus, Academics, and Athletics all reach their potential and raise our national visibility.  

And that's a "Claradise" we'll all be proud of.



Fred Crary is an SCU alum and author of The Bucking Bronco Men's Basketball Blog.  For more Articles subscribe at www.thebuckingbronco.blogspot.com.  Or send email to facrary@gmail.com.


*   Is SCU Athletics "Buying" School Spirit
** RPI is the calculation used by the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Monday, August 28, 2017

SCU Athletics - The Co$t to Becoming National






Got $100,000,000?  Please call Renee Baumgartner ASAP!

That's a good number.  Openers.  My estimate to endow a national level Men's Basketball program to be perennial NCAA tourney candidates. 

At SCU's current endowment payout rate, that's another $4.25 Mil per year to fuel a MBB program in catch up mode in the WCC.  Add that to the current budget growth targets and you've got a top 20 budget in the $9 Mil range and more "buttons" to push to sustain national.

I told you last article to bring your "tums!"

Some examples:  As of July 2016* 

SCU Men's Basketball Budget:  $3.34M,  WCC Rank:  6th
Gonzaga:  $7.3 M  
BYU:  $6.1 M  
USF:  $4.2 M

SCU Basketball Revenues:  $3.9 M
Gonzaga:  $12.1 M  
St. Mary's:  $4.25 M

SCU Operating Expenses:  $340K, Rank:  6th
Gonzaga:  $1.5 M
St. Mary's:  $440K

Spending more doesn't always get you more wins, but you must have a budget that can create opportunities to succeed.  Sources inside SCU athletics are adamant that budgets are seeing "substantial" growth now and going forward.

“We’re going to treat this as a top-20 program,” Baumgartner said. “Coach Sendek will have the resources to be successful.”

Everything is moving from lean to buffed up - staff, facilities, marketing, and most important - culture. Whining is out, doing is in.  Excuses are out - execution is in.  This is a major rebuild for a program anxious to shed the "mid-major" label with a plan to get us to the "dance" floor.

The budget growth in Athletics is a real leadership test at the top levels in the President's Council and Trustees.  Budgets in some areas like the Leavey School of Business and School of Engineering are shrinking due to fewer students enrolling vs budgeted in those schools.**


As season ticket holders, we think that SCU is "printing" money through operations, donations, and endowment.  Not so.  While major donations have been a big help, they don't offset the voracious appetite and need for financial aid.  A $900 M endowment seems like a deep pockets source of cash.  It isn't. Everybody wants more, but there's "less" more to go around.

Endowments have restricted funds and when donors give, their expectation is that the donation lasts forever.  Using SCU's current endowment payout rate of about 4.2%, that's only $38 M for scholarships on a total University FY '18 operations budget of $469 M or 8%.  Small.  Even more daunting, the planned financial aid for FY 2018 is estimated to be $100 M.  

GULP...

Athletics is targeted to receive 3% of endowment for non- scholarship financial aid, $1-$1.5 M for a Leavey face-lift (interior work is mostly complete).  There's $20 M in capital project money slated for facilities through 2019.

In addition, there is finally some decent budget for game guarantees.  Want to play a Pac-12 or Power 5 level team?  Either you get lucky with a home and home; no cash changing hands or it's "show me the money." Game guarantees is what St. Mary's has used for the past 5 years to "pump" their RPI by bringing in opponents with a decent ranking that they know they can beat.  

All of the above was conceived in 2014 as part of the Santa Clara 2020 strategic plan, goal # 6; "Excellence in Intercollegiate Athletics" as a key driver of enhancing our national reputation.

SCU students have yet to buy in to the increased focus and money for Athletics.  They're not old enough to have experienced the past 20 years of an athletics program adrift.  

Fewer students choose Santa Clara for it's athletic reputation and therefore are unaware of it's potential impact on everything.  

Back in 1999, Gonzaga took a different approach.  National Men's Basketball success catapulted the Zags to higher rankings; not just in MBB, but academics as well.  

It's not a coincidence that their regional Forbes top University ranking has risen to #4, or better, in the West for the past 18 consecutive years mirroring their NCAA tournament run.  In fact, their Engineering school and Applied Science is ranked #28 in the nation.  BTW, SCU's regional Forbes ranking is #2.  
You can read about it with this link. 


Frankly, I gag when I read this stuff.  

BUT, at least our MBB train has left the station after nine years of ignominity and twenty-one years of being wallflowers - no dances.  There are stated goals.  National in MBB.  For the first time, those goals are being directed and driven from the top - the President, Trustees, quarterbacked by Renee and orchestrated by Coach Sendek.   That's a team we've never fielded for Athletics.

The make-over will take time.  Probably more time than season ticket holders and fans want after so much angst.  That's OK.   Angst, impatience, and some paranoia is good.  Like a wild horse in the corral who just wants to bust out...

Maybe not this season or next.  But when that Bronco busts out, the rough riders, season ticket holders, fans, and alums will finally have a "horse" in the race to National.

$100 M or 46,000 Bitcoins.  Send via a check, Apple Pay, or Paypal.


* Pre - Coach Sendek.  The above numbers are sourced from 2 national education data collection foundations that collect information submitted by the Universities each fiscal year.  The numbers are representative but may not include other revenues and expenses.  For example coaches salaries are usually not in the operating budget or expenses. 
** Enrollment in the School of Business and Engineering continues to grow - yet short of actual budgeted targets.


Monday, June 19, 2017

SCU Athletic Director Renee Baumgartner Recaps Major Sports






Athletic Director Renee Baumgartner will be two years into the A.D. job within the month.   I recently had a chance to get her perspective and outlook for the future of major sports.

The new P.R. mantra for athletics is "Stampede Ahead," yet the season's results indicate that while there's a lot of action and commotion going on in the Bronco Corral, the Stampede has yet to break out.

In 2016-17,  SCU major sports produced some major highs and some major disappointments.  

Within the "major" marquee sports - Men's Basketball, Women's Soccer, and Women's Volleyball had strong seasons; all things considered.  

In coach Sendek's first season, MBB showed coaching and connecting with players matters.  After key injuries broke out, it would have been easy to pack it in.  No one did.  They were year over year + 6 in wins including over Valpo on the road and a BYU blowout at home gave fans tangible evidence that the program is on the way up.

Women's Soccer just kept on rolling.  They sent #1 ranked Stanford packing in the post season on the way to the NCAA Elite 8 where Georgetown ended their run.  They also beat the eventual NCAA champion, USC.   Final ranking #12.

Women's Volleyball got off to a hot 9-0 start, then was "spiked" by injuries, but still finished with a wining season.  Coach Wallace has 13 NCAA appearances in 18 seasons - a proven winner.

Women's Basketball hung tight in the WCC at 9-9 in Coach Carr's first season.  

In Men's Soccer, the year just never came together, but the program has been a solid NCAA level team. Their most recent appearance was in 2015.

The major outliers were Men's Baseball and Women's Softball.
Both had another in a string of poor seasons and now both coaching positions are open.

Right up front in our conversation about things that need to get better, Renee said, "we have to change the culture about athletics across the board, both inside and outside the department."
  
Net, net this means coaches will be given resources and expected to compete for WCC titles and NCAA berths.  Witness the coaching changes being made in Baseball and Softball.

This culture change inside the department is palpable.  Since starting the Bucking Bronco, I've rarely heard coaches or athletic department staff say specifically "we need to get better" when it comes to a major sport. If they said it, was an "off the record" quote.  Not now.  

For season ticket holders, fans, students, alums, Trustees and the Administration it's about "buy in."

The Sr. Administration and Trustees are in and have ponied up, but the rest of the above list, to use a poker analogy, wants to "check" before raising to see if SCU is bluffing or has the cards to go national.

When asked about the appetite for continued funding for Athletics among the senior administration, Renee said, "there's been no backing off the commitment to go national."

Now that doesn't necessarily mean there's a pile of cash waiting to be spent.  Let's be real.  

Budgets are growing.  Sources show our Athletics' budget was about $21.6 M in FY 2016.  Better.  Even more important, we are closing the gap on the athletic scholarship deficit with our peers in the WCC for our other sports like M/W Golf. 

My next article will probe DEEP into the numbers so we all can digest the magnitude of the road ahead.  Bring your "tums."

For now, in major sports, we're making major investments.  In Silicon Valley parlance, seed funding.  The $$ are flowing, evidenced by a sizable line item allocation in a recent budget for Athletics master plan funding.  The vital signs of a rising Athletics' program that was once on life support is steadily improving.  

The bigger challenge remains:  how to resuscitate the students, alums, and fan base to, in poker terms stop "checking" and raise their stakes to again believe we can be national.   The below article in the student newspaper is telling.



As Renee says, "culture change" is difficult.  IMHO, the "Stampede" will happen when we reach the inflection point fueled by sustained major sports' success, in particular Men's Basketball, and students, fans, showing the same pride for Athletics as they do for Academics. 

That's when the "horses" will be out of the barn!


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

SCU Men's Basketball - It's Time for Major R & R







One of Coach Sendek's most important team goals is learning.  

The 2016-17 season was the first chapter in what we hope becomes the story of SCU Men's Basketball returning to national relevance.

So, what did we learn from that first chapter? 

We have a proven coach and a staff that develops players and can win despite LOTS of obstacles.   The days of "O-fer" are "O-ver."

Gonzaga's run for the NCAA title was great for the WCC, but also laid bare how far we have to climb to erase 20 years of a lack of inertia and oh, of course, investment.

So, it's time for Major NOT Mid-Major R & R!

Rebuild.

Re-invigorate.

And to do that, we have to Recruit...

This will be Coach's first incoming class.  Currently there are four players committed; three underclassmen and a graduate transfer from Princeton.  With the departures of Tony Lewis and Akil Douglas, two spots are open.  

Here's what Coach Sendek told me about the recruits.  To view their video package, please click on the provided links.

Shaquille Walters 6'5: "he's long, athletic, very quick, can shoot from range, slash and finish, and we loved his feel for the game."

Josip Vrankic 6-9: "very versatile, strong Bball I.Q. and a great passer.  Can play lots of spots on the floor."    

Matt Turner - 6'3: "a premier shooter, can also slash, and we love his competitive spirit."

Henry Caruso - 6'4: Transfer from Princeton
"Princeton was one of the best stories of the season, winning 22 games and nearly upsetting Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament.  The crazy part is it happened without Caruso.  The 6-4 wing led the team in scoring (15 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg) in 2015-16, but a foot injury cost him most of the 2016-17 season."*

BTW, he shoots it at 52% from 2pt and 45% from 3pt for an EFG%** of over 58%.  Translation - a much needed offensive boost.

Mid Major Madness comments Re:  SCU Recruits:
“Two three-star guards that turned down Power Five’s could make an instant impact for the Broncos in Matt Turner (offered by Seton Hall, Pitt, Virginia Tech) and Shaquille Walteres (offered by Arizona state).  Turner is a combo guard that can shoot it with the best of them, while Walters is a 6’6 English wing that is still growing into his game.  Canadian Josip Vrankic started for the U18 FIBA Americas runner-up team.  The Combo forward has a ton of upside to his game.”

It's nice to see our newcomers getting some good "ink."  What's really nice is that the staff has been able to get recruits who could have an impact NOW.  On paper, a MAJOR upgrade.

More good news is we have up to six open spots for 2018-19. Replenish, Recharge, and by 2019-20, hopefully, be Reckoned with.

While, my confidence level is high that the coaches will reinvigorate SCU "on" the court, we all still have major work to reinvigorate and re-engage the SCU fan base "off" the floor.

This may be the bigger of the two challenges.

Just as we've lost our way on the court for the past decade or so, we've also lost our way, our voice, and pride off the court.  Fans, season ticket holders, students, faculty, alums, the community near SCU, have forgotten what it's like to have something to cheer about.

It's like we've become a bunch of Eeyores.  We're "conditioned" to expect mediocrity, afraid to stand up and be heard.  A "doubting Thomas" syndrome.

Pride is a tough thing to lose and hard to get back.

It takes not just courage, but BELIEF.

You know, the coaches and players feel it.  The team always plays hard, but they'll play even harder if they feel we've got their backs by making noise and creating a "home court" culture like we had in the Awtrey, Ogden era.  When it meant something to be a Bronco and teams coming to our home court (The Civic) knew they would face a tough team and oppressive fans in their face...

We all have R & R to do.  This is our part of the "learning" process that Coach teaches:  to learn to trust and believe.

To become Bronco's again.  Loud, rough, impatient, and hard to handle; both on the floor and in the stands...



* Source:  Mid-Major Madness
** EFG% - Effective FG % takes into consideration the extra value (50%) of 3pt shots made in addition to 2pt shots.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

SCU's MBB Coach Herb Sendek's - Season Recap




Before I met with coach Sendek, I did my homework.  I looked at comparative statistics from so many angles you'd need a Geometry whiz to figure all the intersections.

Problem was, I met with coach "Zendek" vs coach Sendek.  I mean, I was all puffed up ready to recite stat after stat, but after my opening question, It was apparent none of it mattered. 

It wasn't a full Phil Jackson Zen, but it was definitely Yoda-like.

I asked, "What insights do you take away from the season statistics that you felt were most important?"  Coach Sendek, "we don't really focus on "a" stat or two, rather we focus on the process and our goals to learn, improve, connect, and to serve." 

So, the year to year improvement in seven major statistical categories, wasn't a source of pride among the players and coaches?
"Whenever you see the process work and players improve it's a rewarding experience. We spend a great deal of time on how we can make each individual player better and become a better teammate."  

Really? 

But, what about wins and losses?  A six game win improvement and a five game WCC improvement?  And, how were you able to get there with so many key injuries?  What about beating Valpo on the road and BYU at home?  What about the obvious improvement in Nate, Jarvis, and "E"?  What about? What about? What about?

Same answer.  With an adder, "in a season you experience some joy and a few thrills.  You know there is a difference."  Are you kidding me?

So, I had to bite.  Joy is connecting with the players and seeing the team and a player rewarded for the effort and commitment to getting better.  Beating BYU and Vandy - those were thrills.  

Ok.  I kept trying.  Then how do you deal with the stark inconsistencies of athletic performance?  You blow out BYU making everything and then lose to San Jose State shooting less than 29%?

Sendek, "that's sports, at any level, it happens. When we shoot the lights out, we're the best coaching staff you can imagine.  When we can make a thing, well, we're not very good.  But we don't focus on making shots."  Excuse me?  

Now I'm looking around to be sure I'm in the Men's Basketball offices....

There's more.  "No player wants to miss a shot.  We can't control if any player is going to make the shot.  What we can control in practices is their shot preparation, making sure that we do everything to get the right player a good shot."  

That's the long and short of it all.  Working within the process on what the coaches can control.  Don't get me wrong.  This "process" is very detailed.  EVERY aspect of every player is constantly evaluated and refined.  

Examples: 
Nate shot zero three point shots the prior season, Jarvis one.  "E" shot 42% from the floor and 41% from the FT line in 2015-16.
In 2016-17, Nate shot 117 - 3's making 42%, Jarvis shot 52 making 37%.  "E" shot 56% from the floor and 55% from the FT line.   

I HAD to get some stats in here.....

Why?  You  guessed it -  the process. They learned and improved.  Confidence builds.  Not only did they shoot more, but did so with no hesitation when they had the opportunity.  No head hanging.

It's why players buy in and why they will want to come to SCU.  It's also why we survived so many injuries and still competed and won more games.  Players know the coaches are truly there for them.  

SO, When will we be challenging for the top of the WCC, I asked?

By now, you know the answer.  "When the process and the players come together and take us there."  

Phil Jackson says, "The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome."

Or we can go full Yoda. "Do or do not, there is no try."

Or John Wooden. "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."

All the stat geeks will, of course measure the outcome. Rightfully so. 

Wow, I too have a lot of learning ahead. I better get with the "process." Unfortunately, I'm still too old school and have to go "anti zen" and take the mantra of the great Papa John's credo. Instead of better ingredients, better pizza, Papa John's.

How about, better players, better process, better Broncos!
There you have it....


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Monday, March 6, 2017

SCU MBB vs Gonzaga - "4" of a Kind is Tough to Beat






The Vegas odds of beating 4 of a kind in a five card poker hand are astronomical.*   That's the "hand" the Broncos face tonight against the Zags.  Only two things top 4 of a kind; a straight flush or royal flush.

For the "straight flush" to get it done, the Broncos will need not only our #1, 2 and 3 positions to go off, but get a huge "draw" from the 4 and 5 positions to stop the pounding in the middle from the Zags.

The Zags have a two-way "4" of a kind.

Their first "4" of a kind?  Their 4 bigs.  In our previous two meetings, they are 34-53 (64%) from kick in range and hold a 9 point free throw advantage vs ours.  

Their second "4" of a kind, their 4 guards.  They shoot it at 45% and can defend, drive, dish, or finish.  

It's a stacked deck.....I guess that's why they're ranked #4 in the nation.  

More 4's...

We are the WCC #4 seed, playing a nationally ranked #4.  I just wish the game was at 4:00 - cosmic karma!!!

Even though the odds are long, it CAN be done.  Gonzaga just lost to BYU in the Kennel.  In the last two minutes of that game, the "dogs" played with their tails between their legs:  soft.  

We beat BYU and they know it.  Mark Few may believe the burden of the NCAA  #1 ranking may have made them "roll over" against BYU. 

It does cast some doubt in their minds.  Our win against BYU was no bluff; it was solid.  We will need all of that tonight.

I hope it's like the 2015 World Series of Poker; where an unknown high school football coach, Jeff Tomlinson, took down the best poker pros in the world.  Down 3:1 in total chip count in the finals, he turned the game upside down to win; not bluffing once.  He just played his hands.  

The Zags biggest fear is "which" SCU team will they play.  If we play like the team that rolled Pepperdine and BYU shooting lights out, our odds drastically improve.  IF, we can get them to the last two minutes with us tied or slightly ahead, we might see them "whimper" from being challenged.  

That could put us in the position for a Jared "Royal Flush" finishing shot as he's proven he can do...

Game on.   Our Deal...



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* Odds of beating 4 of a kind in 5 card poker: 1 in 72,193 with a Straight Flush or 1 in 649,740 with a Royal Flush.