What a way to start the season for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Things didn't exactly start out pretty as Southern was hitting from deep early on. The finished beautifully, however, as Mark Few's team turned in a huge offensive performance, exploding for 117 points in an absolute rout at the Kennel.
The man who paced the Zags was without a doubt Steven Gray. The senior leader was simply phenomenal tonight. His outside shot resembled his freshman season and he would have easily secured a triple-double if he could have finished out the game. Unofficially, Gray finished with 25 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, and three steals. That's about as good as it gets in the college game. Gray has always been a guy that can do everything and tonight was a prime example.
Steven wasn't the only Zag to turn in an outstanding performance tonight against the Jaguars. Read on after the jump for more...
The other two guys I must mention tonight are Sam Dower and Mathis Monninghoff. Dower's performance in the exhibition game gave Gonzaga fans a glimpse at what he can bring but tonight took things to a different level. Going up against an undersized and inferior frontline, Dower did exactly what he should have done: dominate. Whether it was running the floor or attacking the boarads, Sam was everywhere and finished the game with 19 points on 5-9 shooting and seven rebounds. Another great stat for Sam: 9-11 from the free throw line. For a guy who's hustle is going to draw a lot of fouls, if he can shoot around this mark from the line, he'll have a wildly successful freshman season.
There were numerous questions when he signed on at Gonzaga but Mathis Monninghoff answered all of them quite quickly tonight. The 6'7'' small forward from Germany was perfect, literally. Going 4-4 from beyond the arc, Monninghoff finished with 12 points and added three rebounds. We expected all the newcomers to show some nerves here and there but Monninghoff, much like Elias Harris last season, seemed completely comfortable throughout the game.
Elias Harris, Robert Sacre, and Kelly Olynyk each turned in double-digit scoring performances as well. Unofficially, Gonzaga outrebounded the Jaguars 53-11 which, if true, is an absolute beatodown. We discussed rebounding in the game preview but I never expected such a disparity between the two clubs. Steven, Rob, Kelly, Sam, and Mangisto Arop all had seven or more boards in tonight's game.
As for the oft-discussed point guard play, you can see what Mark Few is talking about when he says there is no clear cut standout for this spot. I thought Demetri Goodson ran the point well, made some nice passes, and generally played in control. His stat line was pretty pedestrian but his teammates failed to capitalize on a number of nice looks and I thought his low post feeds looked good. David Stockton was a pleasant surprise at point. He assisted back to back three-pointers and had a nice assist in transition. He got to the line a couple of times and looked confident out there.
It is truly hard to not get excited about this team after tonight. While there are still plenty of areas for improvement, the skill level is honestly remarkable, especially up front. Southern probably touts one of the smallest front line's in the country which is definitely a contributing factor but Sam, Kelly, Rob, and Elias showed why so many think they are one of the best front courts in the country.
Next up for the Zags is another matchup with the Jaguars, this time from IUPUI. We'll see you back here Sunday for that one!