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10 Observations from the Gonzaga-Iowa State Game


AdvoCare Invitational Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Fret not, friends. However you feel about Gonzaga’s performances at the AdvoCare Invitational, the most important thing is that the Zags remain undefeated and are climbing in the polls. On to my takeaways from the AdvoCare final:

  1. Refs call fouls against players like Przemek Karnowski on a curve. Since he’s way bigger than everyone else on the court, refs are less likely to call it when he’s fouled in the same way smaller players are. Whether refs want to admit it or not, they consistently do it. Same thing would happen to Shaq and Dwight Howard.
  2. Iowa State’s Deonte Burton was extremely impressive and reminded me a lot of Zach Randolph. He can score inside and out, and has the body control to contort his body to find ways to finish around the basket despite being undersized.
  3. The Zags took advantage of sloppy Cyclone rotations and consistently made the extra pass throughout the first half which resulted in a lot of open jump shots.
  4. Early in the game, there was a great crosscourt bounce pass on the break by Nigel Williams-Goss to Jordan Mathews who finished it off with a lefty reverse layup. That play was a lot harder than those two guys made it look.
  5. Przemek’s dominance inside really opened up the 3-point line. At times, Iowa State was collapsing 3-4 guys on him once he touched the ball in the post. Iowa State was giving up so much size to him though that he was able to see over the traps and take his pick of open guys on the perimeter (or the dump-off to the 4-man).
  6. Unforced turnovers have been a consistent theme through the start of the season, but more concerning was the stagnant offense on too many possessions in the second half. Off-ball movement seemed to get very lazy which rewarded Iowa State’s increased pressure on the ballhandler.
  7. Teams that play with Iowa State’s pace and have their shooting ability are never out of a game. They can make a quick run in the blink of an eye. Good teams have to be able to weather the storm and make plays when they need to. The Bulldogs did that.
  8. Once Rui Hachimura develops (think next year and beyond), he’d be the perfect player to throw at guys like Deonte Burton. He has the physical and athletic profile to be able to defend dynamic forwards like Burton.
  9. Zach Collins was huge for Gonzaga down the stretch. He was athletic enough to handle the defensive switches on Iowa State’s various wing players, and he showed the moment wasn’t too big for him by getting to the free throw line late when the Zags needed a point, and corralling a tough rebound in a crowd with just seconds left in the game.
  10. Considering the torrid pace through the first 10 minutes or so, it was mildly surprising to see this game featured Gonzaga’s lowest number of possessions in a game this season. Iowa State’s pace in the first half played right into Gonzaga’s hands. They kept trying to play faster and faster thinking they could run the Zags and their army of bigs out of the gym. I think a fast-paced game is the best kind of game for Gonzaga, and they got out of it in the second half.