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10 Observations from the 2nd Portland game


NCAA Basketball: Portland at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga survived the Portland doubleheader, but not without some bumps and bruises. Zag fans dodged a bullet after Nigel Williams-Goss walked away from a hard fall with just a bone bruise, but weren’t as lucky with Killian Tillie who looks set to miss time with an ankle injury.

  1. Gonzaga won the rebounding and turnover battles, and a team like Portland really doesn’t stand much of a chance if it cedes those two categories to a much more talented Gonzaga squad.
  2. We saw a triple team on Przemek Karnowski on one of Gonzaga’s first possessions of the game. Since the Zags shot so poorly from the arc in the first game on Saturday night, Terry Porter was daring the Bulldogs to make the Pilots pay from the arc before altering his game plan.
  3. Similar to Saturday night, Gonzaga got off to another strong start reeling off a 9-0 run to open the game. While Portland did push back a little in the first half, the Zags put this game away much earlier than the first leg in Spokane and stretched its lead by as much as 31 points on the back of an 18-0 run that bridged the end of the first half and the start of the second half.
  4. Portland’s Phil Hartwich got back-to-back dunks early in the first half, and suddenly got the bright idea that he should wrap up Przemek Karnowski on the perimeter in what can only be described as a Jock Landale-level stupid foul. The foul was Hartwich’s second in the first 6 minutes of the game. Hartwich wasn’t done yet, as he parlayed that foul into a stare down with Karnowski in a foolish attempt to prove his manliness. Adrenaline can make you do silly things.
  5. When Alec Wintering was lost for the season, I figured Portland’s offense would regress to the stone age. After all, this was the team who only scored 9 points in a half against Saint Mary’s with Wintering in the lineup. However, I have to give them credit for collectively stepping up to try and make up for Wintering’s absence. Without him, they have been forced to play much more focused and together on offense, and it has helped balance out their offensive attack.
  6. Portland runs a lot of pick-n-rolls and dribble handoffs, which isn’t that surprising considering new head coach Terry Porter’s background as a long-time NBA player and then NBA coach. Add in the fact that the offense was built around Alec Wintering, you can understand why its so guard-reliant.
  7. Nigel Williams-Goss is probably eager to get the Portland games in his rearview mirror. He really struggled to shoot the ball in the back-to-back contests, going a combined 5-20 from the field.
  8. Zach Collins demonstrated that he’s learned a thing or two from Przemek Karnowski in the brief time they have been teammates. He matched Karnowski’s trademark behind the back pass in the post with one of his own. Despite some foul trouble, Collins was highly efficient once again as he put up 13 points (4-6 FG) and 8 rebounds* in just 15 minutes.
  9. Killian Tillie’s ankle injury looked bad, and I’m guessing we won’t see him again until the postseason rolls around. Mark Few described it as a severe ankle sprain, which can sometimes be worse than a simple break as severe sprains can really take a long time to heal.
  10. The Zags got a taste of what an NBA schedule is like, playing 3 games in 5 days. Considering they had to travel to Santa Clara, back to Spokane and then down to Portland over that span, they handled the abnormal schedule well. Also, I have to say that was a pretty sad attendance showing by the Portland fan base on Monday night in what is their biggest game each year.

*Edit: This post originally listed that Zach Collins had 5 rebounds, which was an error on my part. He finished with 8 total rebounds.