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10 Observations from the South Dakota game

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12-0

NCAA Basketball: South Dakota at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

A perfect shooting night from Zach Collins (9-9) keyed the Zags to an easy victory to close out the non-conference schedule. Hope the boys enjoy the next few days off as they scatter for the holidays.

  1. Przemek Karnowski got whistled for a travel early in this game, and it seems as though South Dakota was looking to get some more travel calls on the Polish center. They must not know that Przemek’s a technician in the post, and his footwork is so sound I’m inclined to assume the ref is wrong whenever he gets called for a travel. He’s certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.
  2. For the most part, the Zags did a much better job of keeping South Dakota off the offensive glass. However, there were two plays that illustrated what has been a contributing factor to the problem: (1) two players went up to contest a drive and forced a missed layup, but there was no one left to box out or get a rebound and South Dakota got an easy tip jam; (2) Przemek contested a drive on a transition play which forced a missed layup, but Johnathan Williams got beat down the floor by his man who collected the rebound.
  3. There were a couple of occasions in the first half where the Zags turned the ball over on failed outlet passes. This hasn’t been an issue this year which is why it was jarring to see on multiple plays in the first half. Poor spacing and the passer failing to look up were the culprits there.
  4. In the first half, Przemek made a nice stepaway jumper turning to his left on the baseline. He missed a second attempt on this move during the second half, but if he make that a consistent part of his repertoire he’ll be even more unguardable and boost his standing in the eyes of NBA scouts.
  5. Gonzaga had an ugly possession when South Dakota made its initial switch to a 2-3 zone. Smart move by the Coyotes to go to that defense when Jordan Mathews was on the bench and the two freshmen bigs were on the floor. I would have liked to see NWG operating in the high post against the zone as we saw on one other occasion earlier in the season.
  6. This game was a good time for Jordan Mathews to put on tape that he’s willing to drive off a pump fake and can finish. His shooting percentage inside the arc wasn’t great going into the game (25%), but its important to put that stuff on tape for opponent’s scouting reports.
  7. Rui Hachimura’s hype train is now traveling at warp speed. Every time he steps on the court, he makes a play or two that makes you saw “wow.” It doesn’t seem like he quite has a grasp of the offensive or defensive systems as he tends to just float around when he’s on the floor, but it’s understandable why so many Zag fans are drooling about his potential.
  8. I love how comfortable—and more importantly, good—Zach Collins is at finishing with his left hand. His post scoring is already miles ahead of where we expected. The next step for him will be developing his post-passing a la Przemek. Collins also made a slew of great defensive plays when he found himself switched onto guards on the perimeter. He didn’t get blown by and he notched a couple blocks as a reward for his efforts.
  9. We’re in the portion of the schedule (South Dakota, Pepperdine, Pacific) where guys like Bryan Alberts and Jeremy Jones may get a chance to force the coaching staff to consider them for some minutes in the rotation. They have to seize the opportunity and force Mark Few to consider them for an expanded role if they want to get anything beyond garbage time minutes.
  10. 12 Zags scored in the final game of the non-conference schedule. 12-0 start to the season. Santa Shem and his helper Rem are on the loose. Good way to usher in the holidays and WCC play.

*Bonus: How about that behind the back pass from Nigel Williams-Goss to Johnathan Williams for the 3 at the start of the game. That was fun and I would not be upset if we got more of it in the future.