The Old Spice Classic was packed full with great, competitive teams this year. Between Gonzaga, Michigan State, Tennessee, Georgetown, and Maryland, it made for some really exciting games. Oklahoma State, Wichita State, and Sienna were holding up the rear of the tournament, but they all played tough and made it a great tournament to watch.
Preseason tournaments are all about learning different things from certain teams. What we learn from teams can decide how we perceive the team will play come March. Although each and every team showed us something during the Old Spice Classic, no team showed us more than the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Winning the whole thing with an 83-74 victory over Tennessee, the Zags showed that their length and agility can break down an offense, in turn creating scoring opportunities on the other end of the floor.
No one can honestly say that any of the Gonzaga wins in this tournament were not significant. They faced and destroyed a talented Oklahoma State team, and ran away from Maryland. Maryland had just come off an 18-point victory over No. 6 Michigan State, but were taken for a ride against the Zags.
The championship game had no lack of excitement. Tennessee played Gonzaga close during the entire first half and about eight minutes into the second half before the Bulldogs tried to run away.
With a little over 10 minutes to play in the game, the Vols found themselves down by 16. This did not stop them from making a comeback, however. They got the deficit down to as low as six, but could not overtake the scrappy Bulldogs.
Sophomore Steven Gray led the Bulldogs with 19 points, including an impressive 4-6 from three-point range. Jeremy Pargo was named the player of the tournament, averaging 12 points and 6.3 assists per game.
These two teams met last season in Seattle, Washington (practically a home game for GU), where we saw Tennessee take home a victory. Now we see Gonzaga beating Tennessee on neutral ground. The only logical step would be a tiebreaker and we will get just that as the teams will face again on Jan. 7 down in Knoxville.
Gonzaga really impressed me during the course of the Old Spice Classic and I assume that they will continue to do so throughout the season. With their height and wonderful guard-play from Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, and Demetri Goodson, I do not see how this team won't be a potential national champion when March rolls around. I guess we will have to wait and see.