Pre-game chat centered on GU being an 8-point favorite and how some posters would’ve taken BYU and the points. I was tempted to get all holier-than-thou while writing this, but the same thought crossed my mind. Which GU team would show up, the one that struggled against San Diego two nights earlier, or the one that put a tip-off to buzzer spanking on St Marys? It turned out to be neither, but it was a well-balanced, sharp-shooting squad of Bulldogs nonetheless.
The first half was, pun intended, was a dogfight. It was apparent from the beginning BYU was going to dominate the boards, especially on their offensive end. If it wasn’t for the singular stellar effort of the much maligned David Stockton, GU would have been in deep doggie doo (another pun). Stockton, he of no jump shot, was a sight to see. Driving to the hoop, tossing up floaters, great passes, a steal, even hitting a "rainmaking" 3 attempt, David came to play. He got 12 first half points along with 12 from his favorite pass recipient, Sam Dower. Sam and Dave, GU’s Soul Men (look it up kids), scored 24 of GU’s 35 first half points allowing them to take a two point lead to the locker room.
Other first half observations:
Karno, saddled with two fouls, only played 8 minutes. He looked absolutely lethargic compared to BYU’s tandem of Mika and Austin. I wonder if he’s been told not to pursue guys driving to the rim so he won’t pick up unnecessary fouls.
Pangos looked like he was about to have another no show game.
Finally, the abscessed wisdom tooth topic for some fans, Angel Nunez. Angel entered the game with five minutes left to play in the first half and left three minutes later with the following stat line: 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 foul and 2 turnovers. Let the discussion begin!
I’ll start, when Nunez gets minutes in a tight game, he’s the one who has to make things happen. Mark Few shouldn’t be vilified for not allowing him to work through his turnover/poor shot selection/poor decision making tendencies because he runs fast and jumps high (must be wearing Pro-Keds). Two other points, as far as Few not wanting to play "athletic" players, I’ll mention Elias Harris, probably the most athletic player to ever wear a GU jersey and a 4-year every game starter. Secondly, 200 or so D-1 schools have more athletic line-ups than Gonzaga, always have, and probably always will. GU has won so many games over the years by recruiting smart, skilled, underachieving players, forming them into a cohesive team and developing their individual abilities. Angel is far from a write-off and could have two outstanding years at GU. Remember when Kelly Olynyk was a sophomore and would fire off a 3 or a 17-foot jumper? Few would yank ‘em. Not ‘cause he’s a racist (against Canadians), hates individuality or athleticism, it was because Kelly was hurting the team. By the way, this year’s team is 18-3 during an "off-year" with the WCC looking across the board more balanced than ever. Damn idiot Few.
Simply put, the second half was the return of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Gary went 2 for 2 from the field and 7 for 7 from the line demonstrating some incredibly athletic drives to the basket and playing with enthusiasm and fire. Pangos, showed the positive side of being a streaky shooter by going 5 for 5 from behind the arc. Geez, it’s seemed like forever since we’ve seen these two going off on an opponent. Couple their play with continued excellence from Sam Dower and Stockton making some fantastic passes and GU was able to sustain a 7 to 15 point lead throughout the 2nd half. Overall, a good solid team effort to beat a good opponent.
Finally, is GU athletic or good enough to make a deep run in March, probably not. A trip to the 2nd tourney weekend, maybe, with a little luck (and a place in the Spokane bracket). 18 times this year, thus far, I’ve been smiling at the end of a game. I enjoy watching ‘em, discussing ‘em, even analyzing ‘em. I’m not going to dwell on the fact GU may not win a game in the NCAA tournament (if they even make it) ruin the 4 ½ months of enjoyment I get during a season. If you consider I’m settling for mediocrity, so be it. I ain’t married to Megan Fox, but my wife is pretty damn beautiful and I’m sure happy with her. Here’s my chin boys, punch away.