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10 Observations from the Gonzaga-Bryant game

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NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Zags stayed undefeated in the turquoise jerseys, and led off the victorious double header (big thumbs up to the Lady Zags for taking care of business on the road at Stanford) against an overmatched Bryant squad. On to my thoughts:

  1. It’s so easy for Przemek to establish deep position in the post. Bryant had no shot at moving him off his spot or denying the entry pass (kudos to the guards as well). Coupled with Przemek’s excellent passing ability and vision, opponents are in a damned-if-they-do/damned-if-they-don’t situation when deciding whether to double him or not.
  2. Johnathan Williams just needs to make his post-move immediately. This has been an on-going issue in the first 3 games. He’s much more effective when playing instinctual basketball as evidenced by his play as the game went on.
  3. The coaches got to try out a 34 court press which had mixed results. The Zags forced a healthy amount of turnovers, a welcome development from years past, but gave up too many easy looks when the press was broken. Guards have to quickly recover and contest when they ball gets by them.
  4. I like that the coaches have used the first 3 games against less-than-stellar opposition to try out the various defensive systems they might need later on in the year. That’s what these types of games are for.
  5. Josh Perkins has extended his range this year. He shot decently well from deep last season, but he hit a handful of 3s against Bryant that were NBA depth. You may think it’s unnecessary for him to shoot from that depth, but if he can consistently do that, that creates so much more room inside as the defense has to extend itself.
  6. Przemek had a few more awkward falls and has now hit the deck several times through the first few games without any ill-effects (at least from an outside point of view). It’s hard not to get nervous each time you see him hit the ground but good to see him have no problems. Also a credit to how hard he worked during his rehab and a testament to the medical team in helping his recovery.
  7. Referees were a little too whistle happy for my liking. Tillie and Collins got hit with a lot of cheap fouls which they’ll learn from. Also, 64 combined free throw attempts made for a long game.
  8. Jordan Mathews was shut out but simply having him on the floor poses a big threat to an opposing defense. Bryant couldn’t ignore him even though he wasn’t scoring. And it says a lot about the depth of the team when two starting wings can combine for 3 points and they still win by 39.
  9. Rui Hachimura stopped a 2-on-1 fast break by himself in the most spectacular fashion. His athletic ceiling is unbelievable. I’d like to see him get more time at the SF position as I think he could be a devastating force there as his skills catch up with his physical tools.
  10. There was a play in the second half around the 10 minute mark where Tillie bit on a ball fake in the post and looked like he was about to pick up a 4th foul. He made up for the initial mistake by exercising the self-control and body control to avoid making contact and let the opponent lay it in. It’s a sign of good awareness to see him make the decision to live to fight another play, especially considering the game situation.