Just when the hype became too deafening, a beautiful thing happened - basketball. For the past week, we have been hearing about how good the Gonzaga Bulldogs would be this season and how far they would go. The question then became, can the Zags live up to the hype and can they finally get deep into the NCAA Tournament. While tonight's game is just an isolated event several months before the tournament begins, it has to be taken as a huge positive as the Bulldogs completely waxed the Sacramento State Hornets.
The most apparent aspect of tonight was the scoring. Gonzaga had 60 points in the first half and it was seemingly effortless. Byron Wesley got the Bulldogs rolling early as he got into the lane and displayed the prowess we had heard about all offseason. He was quickly joined by Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell who chipped in with great shots in rhythm. Then it was the big men that stepped up in a huge way. Domantas Sabonis was the first Bulldog off the bench and displayed a smooth stroke on his way to an inspiring first effort. Not to be outdone, Kyle Wiltjer started hitting shots from all over the floor and I think at one point he went on a mini 7-0 run all by himself.
It was actually a relatively exhausting game to watch as you had to think about all the guys on the floor and you never knew who to expect points from. This is obviously a very good issue to have as there will likely not be one 'go-to' guy on this team. All the guys in the paragraph above will have huge games which is something Gonzaga has always struggled with in years past. There is no 'guy' that the ball has to go through and that is a very welcome change.
We'll have more on this performance down the road but with SMU on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what kind of pace this team continues to score on. When you consider that I haven't even mentioned Josh Perkins - who was outstanding in his first contest for the Zags, and Kyle Dranginis and Angel Nunez - who are looking to be great role players, or even Przemek Karnowski - who struggled early but came out aggressive in the second half, it is hard to say that the hype is not justified.
Phew. Take a breath, stay excited, and get ready for Monday. This was a great first test but Larry Brown's club will present a whole other set of problems for this team.