As coach Mark Few's Bulldogs team looks ahead to their first round matchup against the St. John's Red Storm who have had a solid season in Steve Lavin's first year in his return from coaching, that ball handling issue might once again define their chances to advance past the first round.
St. John's: What to expect on Thursday - The Slipper Still Fits
Steve Lavin mixes defenses: One of the huge advantages of having three days to prepare for a first round opponent is the fact that the coaching staff will have time to gameplan for all the different defensive rotations and looks St. John's will bring to the table. The primary defensive look will be a matchup zone defense. This works great with the talent St. John's has, as this particular team is incredibly athletic and comprised of seniors. Equally important will be the play of the Gonzaga guards, as this defense will trap as soon as the ball crosses halfcourt and will do everything possible to pressure the guards into bad decisions.
On a historical note, SBN's Rumble in the Garden (St. John's) notes that this is a rematch of a game between the Red Storm and a much more "Cinderella-ish" Gonzaga squad.
NCAA Tournament seed set: St. John's basketball a 6 seed, playing Gonzaga in Denver; Brigham Young on deck - Rumble In The Garden
The Gonzaga game is a rematch from the 2000 NCAA Tournament, where the 10th seeded Bulldogs knocked off St. John's in the second round. I remember Erick Barkley's proclamation that only the Final Four would satisfy the Red Storm... but a mediocre game against Dan McClintock and the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks foretold an upset by the then Cinderalla-ish Gonzaga.