Whereas Friday night's game against Eastern Washington was painful to get through in nearly every respect, tonight's game featuring the Zags and Washington State Cougars had a little bit of everything. For many months, Gonzaga fans have been dying to see the talented 2011 freshmen class and tonight was a pretty solid coming out party for the group, specifically Kevin Pangos. Pangos stole the show for the first thirty minutes of the game as he scorched the Cougs for 33 points on 9-13 from beyond the arc.
A few more thoughts as it approaches 1 AM:
- What has plagued Gonzaga in the past is their inability to close out games. While it is easy to get lost in the Kevin Pangos madness, there was a definite lack of focus that needs to be addressed, especially as it pertains to taking care of the ball and getting back on defense. Quite a bit of this actually can be attributed to the freshmen. Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos both made a number of mistakes down the stretch. Bell had turnovers while Pangos really struggled to run point when the Cougars brought pressure. At the same time, guys like Mike Hart and Marquise Carter are still very mistake-prone. Hart did an admirable job on defense but he continues to stammer along on offense.
- The biggest takeaway I had from tonight's game was that Mark Few seems to be ready to commit to Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos in the backcourt. Down the stretch, both were on the court. Both made mistakes but they also made plays. When Few decided to substitute in some defense, he rotated Carter and Hart and left Pangos and Bell on the floor throughout. I couldn't agree more with this methodology. I'm a firm believer that both need to be in the fire immediately and tonight was a good first step as they continue to form what could be an outstanding Bulldogs backcourt.
- Robert Sacre and Elias Harris both came away with double-doubles tonight. Sacre, in particular, continues to amass some of the most ridiculous stat lines you could ever imagine. Tonight, he was 1-2 from the floor with 15 points and 11 boards. That's right, he went 13-13 from the line. Harris was a little more conventional at 6-13 from the floor with 14 points. He also had 11 boards.
I'll have more on this game soon. Overall, a very solid win for the Bulldogs. The future appears to be very, very bright.