Gonzaga’s 103-68 win against Incarnate Word marked the team’s third game of the year in which it has scored 100 points or more. That is Gonzaga’s best mark since the 2005-2006 season in which it also hit the century mark three times. Expect the Zags to reach that number at least a couple more times this season as the team is averaging 93.1ppg (good for 8th in the country). To provide some context for how ridiculous that number is, Gonzaga’s program record is 82.6ppg set just last season.
1. I noticed a little more movement off the ball from Norvell in this game. That is something I would like to see him do more as that will accelerate his evolution from being just an iso/spot-up scorer and make him a more complete offensive threat.
2. If Rui can consistently make that mid-range jumper at the free throw line playing the high post in the zone offense, that’ll buy him more minutes and make him a legitimate threat at all three levels.
3. On defense I saw everyone doing a better job of contesting shots at the rim without fouling. Defenders were putting their arms straight up and keeping themselves vertical instead of being bent at an angle to crowd the offensive player. That’s how to keep the ref from blowing his whistle and is a sign of good coaching.
4. Gonzaga was so hot during the first four minutes (made its first five shots and didn’t miss until 3:53 into the game) that Incarnate Word’s coach burned a timeout to stop the run rather than wait one more minute for the TV timeout.
5. If I had to critique the offense in this game and throughout early this season, the zone offense hasn’t been super sharp. I would like to see the ball move faster from side to side and inside out to manipulate and move the defense.
6. Jesse Wade showed good instincts and a comfort level handling the ball. He did telegraph a pick-n-roll but also had a nice shovel pass to Larsen on the baseline who wasn’t ready to receive the ball. This was a good opportunity for him to try and work his way into the rotation after not having much of a preseason though I’m sure Coach Few will rely on Josh Perkins for heavy minutes (and rightfully so) throughout the season.
7. Speaking of Perkins, there was a possession where he was literally standing alone in the corner waving his arms and Incarnate Word still left him wide open. It got punished for it too as Perkins is pretty much automatic from the arc these days. Maybe think about covering the guy who didn’t miss a shot in the entire game and is actually shooting 10000% from 3 over the season (okay, maybe he’s “just” shooting 57% on 7.3 3-point attempts per game...an INSANE percentage on that number of attempts).
8. Jalin Hart got stuck defending Rui Hachimura on a play and Rui was able to recognize the matchup immediately and understand how to take advantage. He instantly drew a foul simply by posting up on the much smaller defender. That’s smart basketball.
9. I, along with the rest of Zag Nation, had an escalating level of anxiety throughout the second half with each passing minute that Corey Kispert wasn’t on the bench. He limped off the floor in the first half and wasn’t seen again until the last minute of the game. Obviously, the worry was a recurrence of his right foot injury from last season that required surgery, but Kispert emerged with ice wrapped around his left ankle and assurances that the injury isn’t too serious. With two big games up next on the calendar, hopefully he isn’t slowed down at all despite the minimal recovery time.
10. The most important thing to take away from this game was that Gonzaga played with strong effort and didn’t simply go through the motions considering the level of the opponent. It would have been understandable considering this game was sandwiched between the big stage of PK80 and then two tough games against #25 Creighton and #4 Villanova. It’s a great sign of a team that stays focused on the present task and is in tune with the coaching staff.