It's funny what happens after a loss like the one Gonzaga suffered this past Saturday against San Francisco. Some people lecture Mark Few on what he needs to change on this team, some people write off the team completely as too young and reckless, and some (guilty) wonder if they aren't just as talented as they thought. And then, one game later, you get that performance that really makes you wonder how you doubted the team at all. Tonight, Gonzaga put on one of their most complete efforts of the season against the Pilots of Portland and walked away with a 27 point victory at the MAC.
The way the game started I was sure tonight was going to be another slow, frustrating game from Gonzaga. No one scored until over two minutes had passed and Portland did a nice job answering everything the Zags threw at them. I thought Eric Reveno had his club ready to guard the Elias Harris Express and they obviously benefited from his early foul trouble. What Reveno didn't account for is Demetri Goodson coming out of the gates with some early confidence. Meech attacked early with a quick steal and layup followed by a few more nice drives and he also went ahead and mixed in a deep ball in the first half. Like it has been all season, Demetri's biggest contribution came on the defensive end and for all those who don't want to believe he seriously impacts the game on defense, I give you T.J. Campbell and Jared Stohl's stat line. Both had to be huge tonight and Campbell went 1-10 from the field with seven, I repeat seven turnovers. Stohl, who Meech guarded a lot in the second half, went 2-7 himself with six points. It's hard for me to fathom a better game for Demetri who finished with 12 points, three assists, and two steals.
Staying with the backcourt theme, there were two others that really stood out in my mind. One won't surprise you and the other is a guy you better get used to real fast. Matt Bouldin was a quiet assassin once again tonight for the Bulldogs as he finished with 20 points on 8-14 shooting. He added on four rebounds and two assists and just had another great game in his senior season. The other guy that deserve some serious consideration for player of the game is Mangisto Arop. I wish I could give Manny a honorary double-double tonight because lord knows he worked for everything he got. He ended the game with eight points on 3-4 from the floor, seven rebounds, and three steals. He works at a quicker pace than everyone on the court and is honestly one of the best rebounding guards I've seen recently in the college game. His length in conjunction with his amazing motor makes him a serious asset to this team. I couldn't have been happier with what Manny brought this evening in Spokane.
There is plenty more from the Gonzaga-Portland game tonight, find out after the jump...
From an individual standpoint, there isn't a whole lot more that stood out. Will Foster had another crowd-pleasing game as he connected on one of his two alley-oop attempts and finally made a pair of free throws. I was happy to see him come out strong in the second half because he got killed early on in his initial sequence. It really is a shame that Foster never got the chance to redshirt because he is showing that he can really provide some quality minutes. Who knows what could have happened if he was only a junior and had an entire year to just live in the weight room at put on weight. Regardless of that, it's great to see him play some quality minutes and do some good things on the basketball court.
I think my favorite lineup of the night was Meech, Grant, Matt, Manny, and Elias/Kelly. We were able to see some great sets from this four guard lineup tonight since Portland isn't really a big team up front. The court spacing was a huge reason why Demetri Goodson was so successful in my mind because it gave him some quality driving lanes and he even tossed out a few kick out passes or driving passes to cutters. With him only being a sophomore and Grant Gibbs only being a freshman, it sure was nice to see what the future could be down the line if both continue to make strides. Having Manny in the game against that kind of team in that kind of role is just idea as well. He's not a great match up defensively but he can really bring up the pressure D closer to half court and he is such a menace rebounding the basketball that you really lose nothing by putting him in and taking someone like Robert Sacre out. He also showed a really heady play when we swiped a lob pass from Robin Smeulders later in the game. Portland was going to that a lot against the small Gonzaga lineups and Manny read it and went over and took it away.
It really does make me tremendously happy that I haven't really discussed Elias Harris or Steven Gray throughout this piece. Don't get me wrong, they both played a nice role in tonight's win with six assists and boards from Steven and then seven rebounds from Elias, but tonight was about getting Meech going and the bench and it worked to perfection. I'm not going to cast a bunch of false hopes on whether or not Goodson can continue to give this kind of effort because a lot of it was match ups on offense but I know we all saw some great glimpses from him this evening. We've said for a while now that a little more improvement from Meech plus a few consistent bench contributors could make this Gonzaga team very, very dangerous.
Next up is a Saturday date with Memphis down in Tennessee. The last big nonconference resume building game, Gonzaga will look to avenge four years of pain against the new look Tigers.