We've been working on this blog for over two years now and I can honestly say that I haven't been more pleased with a Gonzaga team than I am with this one right now. Tonight, the Zags faced an inferior opponent at the end of a long and emotional road swing. The idea that most of us had in our heads was that this combination could lead to a trap game. The Zags have had a history of playing down to their opponents' level and keeping them in games but tonight it never really felt that way. Sure the game remained close during the early stages but you never really had the feeling that the Toreros of San Diego could actually pull off the upset win. The game was solidly contested by the Toreros up until about the three minute mark when Steven Gray hit a shot to make the lead ten points in favor of Gonzaga. From there, Mark Few's club put the game on cruise control and left San Diego with a 68-50 victory.
There is a really nice sense of chemistry budding with this team and it really came out in full force tonight. Senior leader Matt Bouldin had an off night on the offensive end but his rough play showed off how this team can thrive without him, especially in league play. Matt was 2-5 from the floor with several turnovers but Steven Gray, Elias Harris, and Demetri Goodson were right there to pick up his slack. Gray finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting and he also had a couple steals, rebounds, and assists to go along with his scoring. Elias Harris is turning into a machine in the conference and had 20 points and nine boards. He suffered a lower back injury late in the second half but was able to re-enter which obviously gave everyone a major sigh of relief.
I know people have been frustrated with his play recently but I thought tonight was a prime example of why Demetri Goodson is so important to this ball club. Brandon Johnson is on the short list of "best players in the conference" and Meech smothered him all night. Johnson finished the game with 13 points but was 3-15 from the floor. He didn't make a three-point basket all evening and had a pair of turnovers. Demetri finished with 12 points of his own on 5-8 shooting and had five assists and three turnovers. There was no doubt the Meech had to play a big game tonight for Gonzaga to roll over USD and he did just that. Johnson was frustrated all night as Meech is one of the few defenders that can really match his athleticism and quicks.
I was really happy with the entire team in general. I was pleased the rotation was eight with just Manny, Bol, and Kelly coming off and I thought they all played well. I also thought Robert Sacre did some great things against lesser competition. He had a ten rebound game and added four blocks to the party and even dished out some nice assists. You won't be blown away by his six points but I thought he did some nice things. As far as the bench goes, I think the "Bol Kong can't miss" talk is dying down but we are starting to realize that he can do a lot of other things for this club. It's hard to judge Manny and Kelly off such limited time but I also thought they looked good.
I think more than anything we saw just how good this Gonzaga team is as a whole. For being a decent West Coast Conference team, San Diego really posed no serious threat to the Zags and they did just what teams are supposed to do with weak opposition. The best part is that this team will be returning to Spokane for some much needed rest before playing Pepperdine on Thursday at the MAC.