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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Howard

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

In case you haven’t realized it by now, Gonzaga’s offense is appointment television. The poor Howard Bison traveled all the way from Washington DC to Washington Proper only to get dunked on by just about anyone wearing a Gonzaga jersey. Here’s what I took away from the game:

  1. Josh Perkins really has a beautiful stroke from the 3-point line. He also does a great job of positioning himself to step into his shot when catching a pass and shooting in rhythm.
  2. Zags continue to look for opportunities to attack in transition and get a shot early in the clock to take advantage of a disorganized defense. We have so many guys who are comfortable initiating the break and making a quick outlet pass. Once that outlet pass is made, the catcher is almost always looking to take the 3 or drive to the basket. That’s what we’ll consistently see this year with this personnel.
  3. Jacob Larsen is the only rotation player that isn’t a threat from the 3-point line. Gonzaga has so many shooters that can play multiple positions which complicates how opponents gameplan to defend the offense.
  4. Zach Norvell Jr. has a lot of streakiness to his game at this point in his career. After going 0-5 from the field with just one point in the first half, he finished the game as the leading scorer on both teams with 18 points on 7-14 shooting. Mirrored his exhibition game against College of Idaho.
  5. Defense was much sharper than it was against Texas Southern. The on-ball pressure was suffocating and forced Howard into a lot of difficult shots. Obviously Howard didn’t have the horses to make the game competitive at any point during the night but it’s important for the Zags to execute the game plan and establish an understanding with one another on how to play certain looks.
  6. There was a sequence in the first half where Kispert followed his shot on a missed corner three. He didn’t have a shot at a clean rebound, but showed the awareness to knock out the ball before a Howard player could secure it which led directly to a Perkins three. It was a great example of doing the little things that coaches love that win games.
  7. We got to see more of Larsen’s skill set and he definitely impressed with his passing ability, vision, soft hands around the basket, and aggressiveness to fight for loose balls. Credit to Tommy Lloyd for consistently finding European players that fit the mold of what Gonzaga needs from its big men.
  8. Spokane might just need to change its name to Dunk City. I counted seven or eight thunderous dunks from about as many different players. It got so bad for Howard that at one point in the first half, after being posterized by Rui and Larsen, no one showed any interest in stepping up to contest Johnathan Williams who was barreling down the lane for a thunderous dunk.
  9. The only stain on an otherwise complete performance was at the free throw line where the Zags went 12-21. Nearly all of those misses came from Williams who continues to struggle at the line, as he went 4-11 at the charity stripe. His shooting stroke from the line is mechanically fine, but his touch doesn’t give him much margin for error. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Williams on reaching 1,000 career points. Well done on a significant milestone.
  10. I’m glad Jesse Wade had a chance to get a few more minutes and sink a trio of threes. It appears that Joel Ayayi is redshirting since we haven’t seen him at all in the first two games (the right decision, in mu opinion), so Wade will be counted on to be the backup point to Perkins. It’s important that Wade takes advantage of these early games to establish his rhythm and conditioning after an abbreviated preseason due to a shoulder injury.