First things first, our thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones in the windstorm that swept through the northwest. Hope everyone stays safe out there.
When the University cancelled classes yesterday and again today, there was some concern about whether this game would be played. After last Friday’s teaser, another game lost due to circumstances out of anyone’s control would have been tough to swallow. Thankfully, the powers that be decided the people needed a healthy dose of Domantas Sabonis, and that’s exactly what the people got.
The first fifteen minutes of the game was not pretty. If you missed that portion of the game, count your lucky stars. The Zags had 4 turnovers alone in the first five minutes and we looked disjointed on both sides of the ball for the better part of the half.
Enter, Domantas Sabonis. Mark Few elected to go with a more traditional lineup to start this game so Domas came off the bench. Upon his entry into the game, he immediately made his presence known, as he had a nice finish at the basket in traffic and then a smooth jumper from the elbow. His energy levels also seemed to wake up the team as everyone else began to play more assertively. Josh Perkins showed some great court vision on a drop-off for a dunk to Domas and a nice three following good ball movement.
However, the first half featured far too many turnovers and there was a number of ugly possessions—especially consider the caliber of the opponent (no offense, NAU).
Domantas continued his dominance in the second half as he displayed the full range of his game: mid-range jumpers, power dunks, finishing contested baskets, and solid post work. He showed all the qualities—foot speed, strength, and athleticism—that has NBA teams salivating. Domas finished with a career-high 26 points on 12-13 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and a block.
The Zags also played better defense as they were more active in passing lanes and forced the Lumberjacks into a lot of difficult shots.
The last 25 minutes of the game featured the team we envisioned the Zags being this year, as the Big 3 really overwhelmed NAU. Przemek displayed his excellent passing ability (although there were some occasions where he should have been more selfish), and Kyle continued to be his reliable self on offense by adding 23 points despite shooting just 1-6 from the three-point line.
The Zags closed out the game comfortably and Mark Few was able to get some run in for Rem, Dustin Triano, and Ryan Edwards.
A few observations from the game:
- This was a bad night for 3-point shooting as the Zags shot 26.1% from deep (6-23).
- Everyone struggled from the 3 except for redshirt freshman Bryan Alberts who shot 3-4 from deep and looked very confident in the offense. He would provide a great punch off the bench and someone to help space the floor if he can continue to shoot the ball well.
- Silas Melson would really like to have his first half back, but he rebounded with a nice second half.
- Wilts tends to stand a little too upright when he’s extended out to the wings on defense, it’s hurting his ability to stay in front of opponents
- The Big 3 all played together for a few minutes late in the game. The lineup featured a great defensive possession that forced a shot-clock violation. Unfortunately, this was followed immediately by a bad possession on offense where the Zags got called for a 3-second lane violation as Domas tried to get an entry pass in to Przemek or Wiltj in the post.
- Josh Perkins showed some really nice court vision but also had a back-to-back sequence where he was wildly out of control. His progression will be a big key to success as the season moves along.
- Thumbs up to the turquoise jerseys...as long as we don't see them again.