LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: Kevin Pangos #4 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs brings the ball up the court against the Brigham Young Cougars during a semifinal game of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena March 3, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzaga won 77-58. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
When Kevin Pangos hit back-to-back threes at the sixteen minute mark of the first half, grins ran across the face of Gonzaga fans everywhere. Heading into last night's game against BYU, most fans knew that Pangos getting rolling early was such a major key to the game. Needless to say, he got going early and he got his shot until the clock struck zero at the Orleans Arena. Pangos netted a ridiculous 30 points in his first WCC Tournament appearance on 10-17 from the floor. His effort was one of the best individual performances of the season for the Bulldogs but, as odd as it is to write, it was just a piece of one of the best complete team efforts from a Zag team in the 2011-12 season.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Pangos' dominance of the Cougars was that everyone knew the scouting report. Pangos is a freshman...AKA he's streaky. What we have typically seen is that if he gets off to a hot start, watch out but if he comes out of the gate and misses a few shots, he has a tough time cranking it up. GU fans know this, BYU fans know this, and Dave Rose knows this. Regardless of that factor, Pangos got free but also made contested shots and got buckets in traffic. He also dished out four assists in addition to his 30 points. An excellent stat for the night, among many others, is that Gonzaga's freshmen backcourt of Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. combined for eight assists and only three turnovers. Very, very impressive for their first collegiate postseason appearance.
Pangos stole the show but he was by no means the only Zag that came to play. Read on after the jump for more...
As I said in the intro, there are a lot of great looking stats from last night. As a fan that has often shaken his head when viewing a Gonzaga team play defense, it is my pleasure to report that BYU shot 38% from the floor. Baked into that stat is a 4-12 performance from BYU's freshman guard Matt Carlino. Many billed last night's rubber match as the battle of the freshmen point guards but it was an absolute no contest. Pangos killed it early and often while Carlino was barely noticeable on the court. Gonzaga's defensive stopper, Gary Bell was on Carlino for a large portion of the night but the defensive effort was brilliant from the entire roster. Pangos shot into passing lanes, Bell hounded Cougar guards, Rob was active as usual, and Guy Landry Edi kind of brings it all together with his athletic approach to defense.
Guy is the definition of a ball hawk. As an enormous fan of Erroll Knight, I think Guy would have done EK very proud last night. Landry Edi finished the game with 11 points on 4-8 shooting. The stat sheet claims he only had one rebound but if there was a "rebounds contributed to" stat, Edi would be tops. His ability to jump out of the gym keeps so many balls alive and he played with great control on offense. If you've read this site for a minute, you know that Max and I have a strong desire for the Bulldogs to continually seek to bolster their athleticism so you can imagine our excitement over Guy. While there is no question that Edi is still settling into the offensive flow that Mark Few employs, he has a number of glimpses where we see excellent offensive skill, particularly as it relates to getting to the hoop.
Because of Pangos' performance, it is hard to say I saved the best for last but if Pangos is #1, then Elias Harris' night might have been #1B. If you glance over the stat sheet, you'll notice Harris' solid 4-8 night with ten points. Watching the game however, it was clear that Harris was dominant in his own right. The junior German power forward finished with 15 boards last night. It was Elias' sixth double digit rebound game in the last eight contests. In that stretch, five of those six have been double doubles. Mark Few raved about Elias become a more complete player following the game last night and he mentioned a very important word: "accountable". Harris' accountability in all aspects of the game has grown so much this season that we have to give a ton of credit to Mark Few and his staff. Prior to this season, Harris was a solid offensive threat but he was a player that you kind of wanted to hide in other aspects and he was rarely interested in the idea of rebounding. This season, he is hitting the glass with pleasure and the rest of his game has improved by huge strides.
We all know what lies ahead for the Zags. Another title game and another date with the Gaels of Saint Mary's. The last stat I will throw out: Tomorrow night will be the Zags' 15th consecutive appearance in the West Coast Conference title game.