There were a lot of impressive takeaways from Gonzaga’s championship run through the AdvoCare Invitational over this holiday weekend. They battled back from a deep hole against Florida to take a win against a strong defensive team. They fought off a furious comeback from Iowa State to barely cling on to the championship.
A lot was on display to the national audience in these games, but few things consistently stood out more than the nonchalant highlight reel passes of Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski.
After logging five assists today, Karnowski is now averaging 2.33 assists per game on the season, a career high. His 14 assists are good for second among centers in the entire country. The funny thing is, Karnowski makes it look so simple.
Jim Meehan from the Spokesman Review put it best today, when, with 2:30 left in the first half, Karnowski connected with Johnathan Williams for the icing on the cake that was Gonzaga’s first half.
The obligatory Karnowski behind-the-head pass to Williams for a dunk. GU 45-31— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) November 27, 2016
In case you missed it, here it was in all of its glory.
Karnowski recognized the double team coming, and got the ball as cleanly to Williams as possible. There is absolutely nothing a defense can do about this. Karnowski towers above everyone else on the court that he has the best vantage point. Usually, when players get doubled down in the post, the ball gets kicked outside for the damage. Karnowski knows how to find the easiest shot, and that goes to the man standing all alone underneath the basket.
It was the second game in the tournament we had the Karnowski to Williams connection. Early on against Quinnipiac, Karnowski was smothered down low. Rather than kicking the ball back out to the perimeter, he showed Williams some love.
That is a narrow pathway for Karnowski to feed it to Williams, but he hits the bounce pass with precision. This is perhaps the best thing about a passing Karnowski. Some of his dimes are a bit flashy, but unlike some other players on the team (cough cough Josh Perkins last year), his passes end up exactly where they are supposed to be. There are few big men in the nation that can complete passes like that as consistently as Karnowski does.
This isn’t the first time we have talked about this either. Karnowski is unloading his passing potential a bit more often, and it looks like he is really starting to find a connection with Williams in the post. If the two can can continue to establish that connection, Gonzaga is going to be difficult for any team to contend with down low. He is too big to not double team, and he punishes you when the double team comes. How you can coach against that, I have no idea.