Happy Thanksgiving y’all. Today I’m thankful for Gonzaga taking on the Quinnipiac Bobcats out of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. I am extra thankful about this game because if Gonzaga loses everything is OK because the world ended hours beforehand.
Not to be looking past this one, because there are plenty of ways for the Bobcats to test the mettle of the Bulldogs, but the AdvoCare Invitational was always about the prospects of tomorrow and Sunday. Let’s do our due diligence anyway and figure out about this little school in Connecticut.
Meet the opponent
Quinnipiac Bobcats, 0-2, KenPom #289
First off, let’s start off with the good things about Quinnipiac, because it is Thanksgiving and we are supposed to be nice. The Bobcats are returning seven players and three starters from last year’s squad. They have four players averaging in double-digit scoring: Mikey Dixon, Reggie Oliver, Chaise Daniels and Daniel Harris. They also brought back their top post players from last year’s squad. So there is some room to work with here.
Harris and Dixon are two players the Zags will need to keep an eye on. Harris, a sophomore, is a career 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and this season is lobbing up at least six attempts per game. The Bobcats love to push the tempo, and the Zags will really have to make sure their perimeter defense is up to snuff to hold off the long range onslaught.
What to watch out for
Rebound, rebound, rebound.
A funny thing about this small school from Connecticut. Quinnipiac has been one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the nation for much of the 2010s. In 2014-15, they led the nation in offensive rebound percentage. 2015 Quinnipiac: 42.1 percent. 2015 Gonzaga (for comparison): 33.9 percent. The Bobcats have always also had a considerably higher rebounding margin in most games.
As such, Gonzaga will need to crash the defensive boards with intensity. Quinnipiac doesn’t have the tallest players by any means. Abdulai Bundu (6’8), Daniels (6’8) and Donovan Smith (6’9) lead the height charge. Gonzaga is a much bigger team, and generally speaking, most teams are usually bigger than Quinnipiac. But they have a knack for finding the ball as it comes off the rim, and the Zags will need to temper that style.
What new and inventive defense will Mark Few try next?
Against San Diego State, we saw head coach Mark Few employ a zone defense that sent the Aztecs scurrying around like they hadn’t played basketball before. Against Bryant, we saw a 3⁄4 press work to varying degrees of success. The Zags have generally been a man defense squad, with some glimpses of a zone. After the success against San Diego State, and thanks to the overall athleticism of the team, it isn’t far-fetched to perhaps see some more of that defense rear its head this season. The Zags have a great game to try and tune it up a bit more, and considering Quinnipiac likes to shoot that three so much, it might be worth exploring.
- Time: 3:30 pm PT
- TV: ESPN2
- Radio: Gonzaga IMG Network
- Online: WatchESPN.com