It didn't take long, about seven minutes to be exact, for what we all knew heading into the year to really sink in: this team is small. It was at that 13 minute mark of the first half when Przemek Karnowski went out with his second foul and Drew Barham came into the game. At that time GU's only big man on the floor was Sam Dower and, my oh my, was he big in this contest. Dower, who has been much maligned while at Gonzaga, was nothing short of superb tonight. He finished with the ridiculous stat line of 21 points and 17 rebounds and was everything Gonzaga fans could have hoped for as the Zags cruised to a 100-76 win over Bryant.
Dower was electric from the opening tip. In a matter of moments he had five rebounds and he played with a level of energy that we haven't seen much from him in the past. Everyone has known Sam to be a very smooth, calm player that can be outstanding but tonight he forced the action and really played like a guy that was willing to put this team on his back. While he looked like a different player in many respects, he was still the same old Sam in others. He is so smooth offensively and has an old school style to his game. That combined with his tenacity on the boards makes me a top big man on the west coast.
In the backcourt, Gonzaga's three-headed monster of Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, and Gerard Coleman were stellar. While Coleman came off the bench and didn't get in for quite some time, he was outstanding. Coleman is exactly as advertised and for Gonzaga that is a breath of fresh air. So many of the great Gonzaga backcourt players have excelled by hitting outside shots but Coleman craves getting to the rack. He is very composed when driving and that showed tonight. He finished with 15 points on 5-8 shooting and, guess what, no three point attempts. Bell and Pangos both finished with 14 points but in much different fashions. Gary was efficient while Kevin struggled offensively. Bell was 3-4 from deep and finished with three assists.
Here are a few other quick notes from tonight's game....
- It goes without saying that Przemek Karnowski getting two quick fouls is something that can't happen often for the Zags this year. Karnowski is far too important to this team when you consider the lack of depth to commit such silly fouls early in the game. That said, when he was in the flow of the game, he again showed flashes of being great. He had a great finish on a pick and roll where he took a tough post feed straight to the rack. If he can stay on the court, watch out.
- Kyle Dranginis worried me at the start and then impressed me very quickly. He passed up an open three early in the game and I thought "same old Kyle" but a few possessions later, he drained an open three and that ignited his confidence. He was very solid off the bench for Mark Few.
- As we expected, Drew Barham is going to be leaned on the provide minutes at the power forward. Some of that responsibility will go to Ryan Edwards when he is healthy but Barham will get time at the power forward regardless.
- Stunned that Lucas Meikle is not going to redshirt. The forward from the Seattle-area played sparingly in the second half and had one rebound and three fouls.
All in all, a very good start for this team. Next up, the Rams of Colorado State on Monday night.