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Gonzaga vs. Bryant game preview: Zags get a tune up

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It is Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs on Friday night.

NCAA Basketball: Bryant at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the Bryant Bulldogs on Friday evening, at 5:30 pm. The game will be a definitive tune up prior to the Zags leaving for the AdvoCare Invitational over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Zags are coming off an absolutely dominate victory over San Diego State. Zach Collins and Killian Tillie were forces off the bench, and Jordan Mathews contributed more than enough offense to coast the Zags to a relatively easy victory.

Bryant are officially 0-1, although they do have a game against the D-III school Salve Regina. In their only game against D-I competition, the Bulldogs fell to the Notre Dame FIghting Irish, 89-64.

Thi sis the second time the two teams have met. Last time, the Zags won, 100-76, in 2013, anchored by 21 points and 17 rebounds from Sam Dower, as well as 10 points from some guy called Przemek Karnowski.

Meet the opponent

Bryant Bulldogs, 0-1, KenPom #310

Bryant is legitimately one of the worse teams in the nation, as evident by their Pomeroy ranking above. Last season, they literally were one of the worst teams in the nation, ranked No. 346 by Ken Pomeroy. As such, they get the punching bag’s welcome in non-conference scheduling. Bryant plays five of their first six games of the season on the road.

They do have some capable scorers on their team, however. Against Notre Dame, Bryant finished with three scorers in double figures, led by 19 points from Nisre Zouzoua. Sebastian Townes chipped in 16 points off the bench in just 20 minutes. Adam Grant also added 13 points from the bench.

That is where things get ugly. Outside of those three players, the rest of Bryant shot 26.6 percent from the floor. This is going to be a recurring problem as well. The Bryant Bulldogs are one of the youngest teams in the NCAA. It is going to be a long season for them, and a night in Spokane won’t make the pain any shorter.

What to watch out for

A fire is already aflame under Johnathan Williams’ rear.

Killian Tillie and Zach Collins have both been rather lovely in the past two games, and Johnathan Williams hasn’t been so much. One of the best things about having depth is that when players aren’t working like they should be, you can sub someone else in. Or, if players have fantastic games in a previous outing, you can reward them with a start. We saw Silas Melson get the start over Perkins against San Diego State following his 17 point outburst to open the season.

Williams is not on a short lease whatsoever. But Collins and Tillie are making individual cases for more minutes. Those will have to come from somewhere.

Will we see Zack Norvell?

The 2016 recruit played a few minutes in the exhibition game and looked rather nice. But according to Mark Few, Norvell’s recovery from knee surgery has been a bit slower than all parties would have liked. Now, Norvell hasn’t seen game time in just two games because of injuries, and the redshirt alarms are already sounding.

Most likely, it is exactly what Few has been saying this whole time. With as deep as the team is, there isn’t much of a point of risking a setback in Norvell’s recovery just to shove him on the court as quickly as possible. Barring any catastrophe, I would imagine we will see Norvell on the court sooner than later, which will be good for Few. Until Bryan Alberts and Rui Hachimura can earn their minutes, the Zags have four players for three positions.