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Forget the partridge in a pear tree: What to buy Gonzaga's men's basketball team for Christmas 

click to enlarge STRAUSS FENCE CO.
  • Strauss Fence Co.

Christmas is just around the corner and right when you think you’ve picked out the perfect gift for everyone on your list, it hits you: You completely forgot to get something for your good friend, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Time’s running out, but don’t worry. The Inlander is here to help with three gift suggestions the Zags are bound to love finding underneath the Christmas tree.

Cases and Cases of Evaporated Milk

The benefits of evaporated milk are many. It is truly a wonderful product that anyone would enjoy receiving as a gift. But for Gonzaga, there are two reasons that it is a must-have this Christmas.

First of all, it’s shelf-stable. If you bought the Zags a couple cases of regular milk, it would likely spoil before they could really make a dent in them. Second, that calcium content! Half a cup of the stuff provides nearly one-third of your daily recommended daily intake.

This is important because the Zags aren’t doing so well in the bone department right now.

Junior forward Killian Tillie hasn’t played a single game this season due to a stress fracture in his ankle, and senior guard Geno Crandall has been out since late November with a fractured hand.

In recent seasons, the Zags have typically been a team with a small rotation, somewhere between seven and eight guys. This year, an ideal rotation would probably be eight deep. So, without Tillie and Crandall, a starter and a reserve, respectively, the Zags are lacking a full quarter of their rotation.

There’s no depth right now. When there’s no depth, fouls hurt more than normal and tired legs kick in sooner than they should.

Tillie and Crandall are expected to return to action sometime after New Year’s. Let’s hope they and their teammates are drinking enough milk.

Rebound by Pamela Swyers

I haven’t actually read the book, but Goodreads user Barbara Watkins has and here’s some of how she described it: “When her somewhat spoiled, rich boyfriend, Zak, dumps her like a sack of potatoes, she finds herself alone and on her own. Through mutual acquaintances, she meets a young lad by the name of Max Jacobs, and life will never be the same.”

I know, the Zags didn’t just get dumped or anything. But I think they could use a bit of a holistic approach to understanding rebounding, in all its forms.

Against North Carolina earlier this month the Zags were out-rebounded 42 to 21. The Tar Heels had 27 second-chance points in the game, to Gonzaga’s zero. Rebounding has been one of the few areas this team could improve in.

Yes, the Zags are playing without one of their better rebounders in Killian Tillie. And, when you don’t have much depth, and players get tired, it’s hard to excel at something that is mostly effort like rebounding. But still, this is a team that wants to win a national championship and rebounding is something that could hold them back.

Even if Rebound, the book, doesn’t teach them any lessons that translate to the court, it’s probably worth the read. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good book?

Fence Posts and Panels

This one would be a bit spendy and time-consuming since you’d need to help build it. But it might also be the best gift you could give the Zags. Not only would it keep Spike, the Bulldogs’ mascot, from wandering into the neighbor’s yard, but it would help protect Gonzaga’s property.

And my goodness, the Zags have been letting teams take basically whatever they want on the offensive end this season. Something has to improve when it comes to Gonzaga’s defense.

When the Zags made it to the national championship game two seasons ago, the team ranked as the No. 1 most-efficient defense in the country, according to stat-guru Ken Pomeroy. This year, Pomeroy has them at No. 61. If the old adage that defense wins championship is true, this team is screwed.

The only real bright spot on the defensive end of the court has been Brandon Clarke. The junior forward is averaging over three blocks per game and is on pace to break the school’s single-season record of 70, currently held by Austin Daye.

Once Crandall and Tillie, who is a solid defender and shot-blocker himself, return from injury, maybe the Zags can pull it together on the defensive end. Because right now with all the energy the shorthanded Zags have to expend on the offensive end — they are the nation’s most-efficient offensive team, according to Pomeroy — there just isn’t much left over for defense.

Until then, though, it might be wise to just build an actual fence.
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