Everyone who thought Gonzaga would be this good through its non-conference session please raise your hand.
Good. Class dismissed.
Even for the most homer of fans, it was clear Gonzaga was going to be good. But I think you would be hard pressed to identify someone who anticipated the offense clicking as well as it has for the Bulldogs in the 2014-15 season. Gonzaga's one "hiccup" was an overtime loss on the road to a top-five team. After that, it has been offensive beatdown after offensive beatdown. The final beatdown is here before Gonzaga heads to conference play and the potential for much closer scores.
Cal Poly was a NCAA Tournament caliber team last year -- courtesy of winning the Big West Conference Tournament. This game is the Battle in Seattle, and with a huge amount of tickets still available, this game lacks the luster of previous big arena games. Nonetheless, it is a solid game to have in the holiday break to keep the guys fresh before conference play begins.
Meet the opponent
Cal Poly Mustangs, 5-4, KenPom #209
The Mustangs have three quite good juniors on their team. After that, the drop-off in production is pretty severe. Winger David Nwaba leads the team in points with 14.8 and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is a slasher who relentlessly attacks the rim and aims to draw the fouls in the process. He does a pretty solid job of finding his shot as well, hitting close to 52 percent of his field goals (zero three point attempts). He also makes it to the line a fair amount, just a shade over seven attempts per game. Unfortunately, he is a career 68 percent free-throw shooter.
After Nwaba, you have forward Brian Bennett, who has taken a huge leap forward from his sophomore to junior year. Bennett averages 12.2 points per game and leads the team in rebounds with 6.8 rebounds per game. He is their anchor down low, and is a rather stout individual -- coming in at 6'9 and 253 pounds. Bennett likes to play away from the basket, with nearly two-thirds of his shot coming as jumpers away from the rim, according to hoop-math.com.
Finally, there is guard Reese Morgan. He is third on the team with 10.5 points per game. Morgan would be a three-point threat, where nearly two-thirds of his shots come from, if he could hit them at a better clip. Morgan hits just 25.7 percent of his three-point attempts. There are a couple of other individuals on the team who take their shots as well, but like a lot of Cal Poly's offense, it is hard to come by.
As a team, the Mustangs are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation. They are also in the dredges of overall field-goal percentage as a team. Not much is down correctly on offense for this squad except for one thing -- they take very good care of the ball. Cal Poly has 64 turnovers as a team, the least in the nation.
The four factors
Courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
|eFG%||59.1 (3)||42.1 (326)|
|TO%||16.6 (28)||11.0 (1)|
|OR%||40.3 (13)||27.0 (288)|
|FTR||34.7 (235)||35.8 (214)|
What to watch out for
Will we see another mix-up in the starting rotation?
Mark Few mixed it up against Texas Southern and put Angel Nunez and Domantas Sabonis in the starting lineup. This is a fantastic move because it gives those guys a chance to get back on the Few's radar (which admittedly can sometimes be clouded by horse blinders). Because this is the Battle in Seattle and is on the big stage of Key Arena, I'm not sure Few will do the same thing. It would be nice to see either Melson or Dranginis get the start, but Few isn't going to sit Gary Bell Jr. in front of his home crowd. Still, don't be surprised to see one of the starting five be the first one off the bench again.
Will Connor Griffin get his dunk?
The post was mainly tongue and cheek, but Griffin clearly has some hops on the team. He is only a sophomore, but legitimately, if Griffin focuses, it isn't that hard to see him fulfilling a Mike Hart of David Pendegraft type role sometime in his collegiate career. First, deliver the thunder dunk we are all waiting for.
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports
Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)