If you're looking forward to the showdown later this fall in the Kennel (and really who isn't?), we now have a reasonably worthwhile means to compare ourselves to the rival Zags. Granted, this doesn't tell us much about where the Cougs lie as a team, because the Zags are also young, unpredictable, unranked and untested.
We played MVSU in Pullman Friday. Gonzaga played MVSU in Spokane yesterday.
We won 94-66. The Zags won 92-74.
The Cougs had statistically ended the game with 7:23 to play. Gonzaga: 4:56.
I can't tell you how encouraging it is to see us completely blow out the Zags in offensive rebounding against the same opponent. GU shot a little better, protected the ball a little better, and got to the free throw line at a pretty astonishing rate. Our defense coerced the Delta Devils into more turnovers, however.
Now, the average fan would look at the game score and say: "OMGZ!! Teh Cougars are just as good as Gonzaga offensively and play just as fast!!!1!!1"
Of course, you, the intelligent readers of CougCenter, know better.
The Zags played their game a little bit faster, with 77 total possessions compared to WSU-MVSU's 74.
Against this particular opponent, however, the Cougs were superior offensively. WSU, even on a rough shooting night, had an efficiency rating of 127. The Zags: 119.5. The Cougs were also superior defensively, holding MVSU to an efficiency of 89.2. Gonzaga: 96.1. WSU rebounded better too: grabbing 67.1% to the Zags' 57.8%.
Remember, though, that this is just one game, and the stats are still close enough to where you'd be crazy to draw any definitive conclusions.
Still, two things stand out: one, that the Delta Devils were playing their second game in two days. Gonzaga was playing their first of the season. It seems to me that if the teams were dead equal Gonzaga should still have had the better performance based on the fact they were playing a tired opponent. Of course, getting those first game jitters out of the way may have helped MVSU keep the Gonzaga game closer than it should have been.
Second, my number one concern for this season is our rebounding ability without Aron Baynes in the picture. Our performance on the glass against MVSU is extremely encouraging. Especially when you consider that Gonzaga plays Rob Sacre (7'0", 247) and occasionally runs out Will Foster (7'5", 273!) and Andy Poling (6'11", 232). However, GU is a lot like us: Sacre is their Casto, Foster is their Bjornstad, and their other big men are on the slim side, minus Poling. Nevertheless, we outrebounded a program that is supposed to have superior size and talent. Not bad.
I officially concede to Craig. We do have a chance against Gonzaga this year. Few win in K2, but we have serious links to two of the teams that have: we won there in 2007, and have the coach that won there in 2008 (Ken Bone).