On Thursday night, Gonzaga proved that they were not about to let the last second loss to Butler have a lingering impact on their season. The Zags dominated a solid BYU team by 20 points and now are looking to continue the momentum into a pretty soft portion of their schedule. Gonzaga's next five opponents have a combined record of 46-54 and, to be quite honest, they haven't really played the most difficult of competition. Leading off this piece of the schedule are the Dons of San Francisco who enter the MAC with a 9-11 record.
San Francisco had a tumultuous offseason and has actually done an admirable job piecing their roster together this season. Head Coach Rex Walters basically was left with two returning contributors from last season in Cole Dickerson and Cody Doolin. Both have played big minutes for the new look Dons. Dickerson is averaging a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. The 6'7'' forward has benefited from the increased time and has done a great job filling the stat sheet for the Dons. Doolin is averaging 34 minutes per game in the backcourt and scores about 12 points game game. The lead guard for the Dons is also averaging 6 assists per game. A plethora of newcomers have helped San Francisco led by De'End Parker, a UCLA transfer and Tim Derksen. Parker is averaging 12 points per game while Derksen averages 8 points and 4 boards per game.
Unfortunately for the Dons, they are taking on a very skilled offensive ball club in Gonzaga and they have really struggled on the defensive side of the ball. According to KenPom, they are allowing the opposition to shoot 36% from beyond the arc and 49% from the floor. Both of those rank in the mid-to-high 200s in the nation. With that said, this is a team that can and most likely will keep the game competitive. They've really only been blown out once this season against San Diego State and in losses to BYU and Saint Mary's, they lost by 4 and 6 points, respectively. I'd say Gonzaga has shown that they are truly on another level in this conference but the Dons will not be intimidated by the name on the front of the jersey.
If Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk play anywhere near the level they played on Thursday night, I think this can be a big Gonzaga win. As I said, the Dons will give Gonzaga everything it has but in the end, I don't think USF can overcome their defensive woes and will allow several Bulldogs to have big nights as the Zags move on to a 19-2 record with an easy win.