Gonzaga's first true test of the season will send them right back to the drawing board as the Dayton Flyers erased a 16-point first half lead to upset the 10th ranked Bulldogs in the opening round of the Maui Invitational. Because it just passed 12:30 AM mountain time, I'm going to limit this freak out thread to a few bullet points that I will let everyone else freak out about even more.
- Defending the big guard. As I said in the preview (yes, I'm tooting my own horn), my major fear for this game was Gonzaga's ability to stop Jordan Sibert. Tonight, that fear came to fruition as Sibert lit up the Zags for 23 points on 8-12 shooting (5-8 from deep). He did a majority of his damage in the second half, and was virtually unconscious from deep during that stretch. For as solid as the Gonzaga backcourt is with Pangos and Bell, the achilles heel for those two is the unfortunate reality that they give away some serious height in many matchups.
- Frontcourt. For the first ten minutes of the game, I was convinced that this was going to be a banner night for the Gonzaga front court. Both Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski came out hot and were contributing early. As the game wore on, however, they both began to fall into old habits. Przemek Karnowski, in particular, has stretches where he can only be described as a liability on the court. Whether it is poor fouls or bad turnovers, the flashes of excellence have recently started to get outweighed by some of the negatives of his game. Moreover, the Zags were outrebounded 40-28 by a Dayton team who basically rotates a collection of 6'7'' power forwards in their frontcourt. The Flyers were far more committed to the boards as a team and it showed as virtually the entire roster chipped in on the glass.
- It is only November. With all that was lost from a year ago, ups and downs will be expected but it is important to remember that this loss does put some added stress on either A.) Putting on a show in the rest of the nonconference or B.) Winning the WCC title. Both of those are obviously attainable but this loss eliminates the chance of playing a few more 'resume boosting' type games.
The thread is yours. I urge you to treat one another with respect and keep things classy...