Gonzaga barely came away with a win on Wednesday night against Santa Clara. Like a lot of their games on the road, some major players disappeared of the face of the Earth. One player, in particular, seems to do this more often than most. The question, does Kevin Pangos actually struggle on the road, or is he in step with the rest of the nation?
Pangos finished the game with his second worst shooting performance of the season. The junior guard went 1-for-7 from the field to the tune of four points, just one more point scored against LMU when he went 1-of-11 from the floor.
On the year, Pangos home/road splits are as follows (neutral games just counted as road games).
Thing is, those four "neutral" games this year are three games in Maui (where a sizable Gonzaga contribute travelled for holiday sun) and Seattle. Those were hardly neutral arenas. So if we just go with straight road games, the home/away splits get a bit more drastic.
There we go! Numbers to write an article on! Granted, in Pangos' defense, those numbers skewed South pretty heavily after he went 2-for-18 and a combined seven points in his last two road games. For Pangos, however, this isn't an isolated year. The numbers are pretty parallel with the other two years of Pangos' collegiate career.
There is nothing wrong with being a bit worse on the road. Everyone is. That is why it is known as a hostile environment. Instead of having people cheer you on, you have people cheering a bus to run you over. For Gonzaga fans, of course it happens to Kevin Pangos more often, because we watch Kevin Pangos more often. Pangos is the leader of this team, the sort of person expected to take the big shot. It is quite apparent when the big shooter's shots aren't falling.
To see if it is an apparent problem with Pangos, or more just a problem amongst good guards all over the place, I chose some different players with similar production (to a certain extent). We have Jabari Brown from Missouri, Brady Heslip from Baylor, Nik Stauskas from Michigan and Jared Brownridge just because. Each of these players, like Pangos this year, are in the top-15 in three point percentage this year. Here are their home/road splits.
Now granted, that is a very small sample size of players in the NCAA. Just because four other guards do not struggle as much as Pangos doesn't really mean very much. I'm sure if you started to extrapolate those numbers across all of college basketball, you would see a dip. But the interesting thing, small sample size or no, we've all seen Kevin Pangos struggle on the road -- and he definitely appears to way more than other players, with a downturn in production nearing one-third.
Let's take another player to compare, one that is as close to Kevin Pangos in terms of adversity faced. Let's take a look at Gary Bell.
Bell, of course, goes ahead and is a total weirdo by actually improving on the road. This is exactly what we saw in the game on Wednesday night. It wasn't so much that Pangos completely disappeared (although he did a fair share of that), where as Bell stepped up to the challenge of the road and took over.
For Bell, he has the luxury of not being the team leader. The team doesn't necessarily look for him to start things off because he doesn't play the point. The onus is on Pangos to get the offense moving or to be the offense. That is a lot of pressure. I'm not saying that Pangos can't deal with the pressure, because he has definitely hit some big shots in some last second situations.
For me, this was an exercise in knowledge and numbers. I've always thought Pangos was worse on the road and now I can say so with mathematics to back me up. That isn't necessarily a good thing, but it is an important thing to recognize. I would say that, although each game and situation is different, the last shot on the road doesn't necessarily belong in Pangos hand. Otherwise, eventually it will probably cost us a game.