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10 Observations from the Gonzaga-Utah Valley game

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NCAA Basketball: Utah Valley at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Opening night is in the books and there was plenty to digest from Gonzaga’s victory over the Utah Valley Wolverines:

  1. Nigel Williams-Goss posted up immediately in Gonzaga’s first possession and got an easy first bucket of the season. He’s excellent at taking advantage of his size, and he won’t see many guards bigger than him this year. Expect to see him feast on the smaller WCC guards.
  2. I like seeing Przemek diving for a loose ball early in the game. It shows he’s completely confident in his back. Plus, he needs to get over the hurdle of hitting the deck in a game.
  3. Mark Few’s substitution patterns indicate quick shifts to take advantage of Gonzaga’s depth. 9 guys played in the first half and Gonzaga can push the tempo all game with such a deep team.
  4. Jordan Mathews maintains great spacing in transition. He’s so good at forcing the defenders to make a decision under duress while finding enough room for himself to get a shot off should the ball come his way.
  5. Zach Collins plays with a lot more physicality than I anticipated at this point in his career. He has no problems finishing through contact.
  6. Defense is so much better with Przemek on the floor. Wings can play tighter on the perimeter knowing he can protect the rim. No surprise that 3-point defense was much better in second half when Przemek played more. Giving up 6-12 threes in the first half was bad, can’t afford to let better teams get such easy looks moving forward.
  7. Silas Melson is a much more effective offensive threat when he’s attacking the rim instead of settling for 3s. If he continues to play this way, he’ll give the coaches a lot to think about in terms of minute allocation with Josh Perkins coming off his suspension.
  8. Killian Tillie brings great energy and does a little bit of everything. Wasn’t sure if he’d be physically ready to play at this level right away, but he’s a good athlete and plenty strong. Tillie and Collins can be the new Sabonis-Wiltjer duo in time.
  9. Johnathan Williams said he worked on dunking through contact. He showed the fruits of his labor on a nice dunk in the second half on a post-up.
  10. Transition defense needs to improve. I’d like to see the wings running opponents off the three-point line. Defensive rotations lack sharpness but will improve with each game.

Final word: Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of John Oakley. Mr. Oakley operated Gonzaga’s scoreboard during men’s and women’s basketball games for 18 years, and the team was able to honor him for his service last weekend, just days before he passed away on Thursday after battling ALS. Here’s a great writeup on him written by Whitney Ogden at The Spokesman-Review.