There weren't a lot of pretty things that happened in Gonzaga's win over San Diego on Monday night. But at approximately nine minutes into the game, Przemek Karnowski showcased one of the skills that had everyone raving about him before he hopped across the pond to start his collegiate career.
With 9:26 remaining in the first half, Karnowski showed up in the box score with his first assist of the game on a lay up to Kyle Dranginis. On itself, not too important. But let's take a look at how the play unfolded.
Karnowski recognized the double team and used his height to his advantage. To give Dranginis credit, he kept the play going by identifying the open path to the lane.
This was the reaction in the game thread.
The excitement and hyperbolic statements were entirely justified. Here is another look at the play up close, and a bit slower.
There aren't a lot of big men in the nation that can pass like that. That is a bonafide, no look pass. That is the sort of pass that most point guards don't have any business trying -- and Karnowski pulled it off like it was no big deal.
Karnowski's passing ability was one of the big things in his scouting report when reports of his recruitment first surfaced. He generated comparisons to Kevin Love and Brad Miller. For his part, Karnowski has shown a plus-vision for finding the open man out of the post.
That ability is a nice addition to the front court arsenal of Gonzaga. Sam Dower was halfway decent at garnering assists, but it wasn't his forte. Robert Sacre only figured it out for his junior year, and apparently forgot how to in his other three years. Karnowski's passing threat down low is something Gonzaga hasn't really had since J.P. Batista graduated in 2006.
Since 1998, There are two players tied for the most assists in a year by a Gonzaga center. Batista in 2006 and Axel Dench in 1998 each finished the season with 46 assists, averaging 1.4 assists per game in the process. Karnowski has 19 assists on the year and is also averaging 1.4 per game. At the rate that Karnowski is going, he is on track to finish as the best passing Gonzaga big man in recent history.
Men of Karnowski's size who can pass consistently are a rarity in the basketball world. If at any time you curse yourself, the television and Karnowski because he went in for a lay up instead of slamming home the dunk, just remember this -- those soft hands are good for something.