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10 Observations from the Akron game


Akron v Gonzaga Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

It what will hopefully be the first of many firsts this season, the Bulldogs continued their excellent run this season and clinched the program’s best ever start. Here are my takeaways from the win over the Zips:

  1. It’s such a luxury to be able to dump the ball into Karnowski on the low block when the offense is struggling. Gonzaga’s offense had no rhythm in the first half, but were bailed out by Karnowski.
  2. Credit to Akron for doing a good job of contesting Gonzaga’s shot attempts on the perimeter. The Zips didn’t come into the game with a high defensive ranking, but they played a physical brand of ball that really got the Zags out of sorts.
  3. The Zags are doing a great job of trapping and contesting on defense, forcing lots of missed shots and holding opponents to a 40.7% effective field goal percentage which is 5th best in the country. This is creating a lot of offensive rebounding opportunities for opponents, which is natural, but the Zags need to do a better job of cleaning the glass. Improving box outs and rebounding positioning needs to be a point of emphasis this week.
  4. Akron is accustomed to running an effective inside-out offensive attack, with Isaiah Johnson able to punish most teams in the post or kick out to an array of shooters on the wings. Akron ranks in the top 10 in the country in 3PA/FGA ratio, with more than half of their shot attempts coming from deep. Gonzaga shut them out from deep in the first half, and only gave up 5 threes in the whole game (5-25). But, Gonzaga’s ability to single up on Johnson with Karnowski allowed everyone else to stay home on their man, and the Zips weren’t really equipped to find any other type of offense.
  5. While the defense is moving towards a Top 10 national ranking, the Zags are getting into the bad habit of leaving their feet to contest jump shots. This team has a lot of length and quickness, and that shouldn’t be necessary.
  6. A Silas Melson three was Gonzaga’s only basket outside the paint in the first 10 minutes of the game, which is crazy considering the starting backcourt trio are all more than capable of filling it up from outside. The game-plan became feeding the ball inside to Karnowski, but I would have liked to see Josh Perkins be more aggressive and hunting out his shots. Perkins only attempted two field goals, making one of them (a three-pointer that punctuated Gonzaga’s game ending run 19-3 run).
  7. It’s not often you get to see a pair of 300-pounders go head-to-head in college basketball. With the dearth of old-school post-up players across all levels of basketball, it was a lot of fun to see Karnowski and Johnson find a worthy adversary in one another.
  8. Gonzaga’s half-court offensive execution was much better in the second half due to an improvement in the quality of the screens being set and the ball moving a lot quicker.
  9. This was Gonzaga’s slowest tempo game of the year, only logging 61 possessions according to KenPom’s calculation. Not surprising considering both teams were playing through their big men. But, as we suggested prior to the start of the season, the Zags are able to play and win just about any style of basketball thanks to the depth and balance of the lineup. This will be invaluable when they get to the tournament.
  10. Jeremy Jones finally made his Gonzaga debut in the final two minutes of the game. Great to see him on the court and it will be interesting to see if he can carve out some kind of role for himself with the schedule about to move into conference play.