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10 Observations from the Saint Mary’s game

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26-0!

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at St. Mary's Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Williams made the right choice when he ignored Matthew Dellavedova and put on a Gonzaga jersey underneath his dress shirt for his Gameday pick. Here are the takeaways from Saturday night’s game:

  1. Saint Mary’s opted not to double Przemek Karnowski at all in the opening minutes of the game, and he repaid them by scoring 10 points before the first media timeout. Karnowski was dominant and set the tone for the Zags. Even when Saint Mary’s started to send doubles at him on first dribble, there wasn’t much they could do to stop him en route to 19 points on 9-13 shooting. Saint Mary’s most effective defense against Karnowski turned out to be the basket stanchion that he fell into and forced him to the bench for the remainder of the first half with an apparent ankle injury.
  2. Karnowski wasn’t the only Gonzaga big that feasted, as the bigs routinely established good position in the post. Johnathan Williams posted a highly efficient 17 points (7-9 FG) with 9 rebounds, and Zach Collins chipped in some sweet post moves while also doing yeoman’s work on the defensive end. Collins fouled out, unfairly, but before doing so he did a good job battling Landale and Pineau and denying easy entry passes to the post.
  3. Joe Rahon was ineffective against Gonzaga in the first matchup between these teams, but sparked SMC’s offense in the first half. The Gaels best stretch of offense came with Rahon on the ball, but they didn’t put him in a position to make plays very much in the second half.
  4. Josh Perkins will probably not be dipping into this game film when he puts together his career highlight reel. He held down the fort when Nigel Williams-Goss landed on the bench early in the first half with foul trouble, but struggled with ball security (4 turnovers, and a handful of other balls he lost but were recovered) and shot poorly from the field all night. His body language after missing two free throws late in the game indicated he was pretty down on himself.
  5. Gonzaga chose to defend SMC’s high ball screen by having the defending big hedge and switch if needed. This prevented penetration and open jumpers, but did result in a guard, usually Perkins, stuck with Landale in the post. While this was less than ideal, and led to a handful of easy buckets for Landale, the Zags were able to bottle up SMC’s ballhandlers and force them to play one-dimensional ball for most of the night.
  6. Gonzaga suffered some turnovers trying to manufacture tempo to force the Gaels to play faster. While the Zags only had 9 turnovers for the whole game, it seemed like every one of them was costly and led to an SMC bucket.
  7. Gonzaga’s starting backcourt had a pretty bad game. Jordan Mathews and Josh Perkins each played 30 minutes but only combined for 6 points on 1-8 shooting from the field, 4-9 from the free throw line, and 0-5 from distance. While Nigel Williams-Goss did finish with 14 points, even his usual impact was understated.
  8. The starting guards may have had a night to forget, but Silas Melson was excellent. He played his usual high-level defense, and provided big baskets that helped stop a few SMC runs. His athleticism bothered SMC’s guards on both ends of the floor, and earned himself a ridiculous 200 offensive rating per KenPom.
  9. SMC couldn’t find anyone to step up and help Landale shoulder the offensive burden, as he was the only Gael to reach double figure scoring. Emmett Naar had a 47 o-Rating thanks to a 2-11 shooting night (5 points) and 4 turnovers; Calvin Hermanson shot 1-5 from the arc; and Dane Pineau only scored 7 points as he battled foul trouble. Reserve big, Jordan Hunter (who incidentally looks like a strange cross of Adam Morrison and Matthew Dellavedova), was probably their second best player last night. Landale didn’t do his team any favors, picking up his usual collection of silly fouls, but at least he provided offensive production. The same can’t be side for the rest of his mates.
  10. Much like the first game between these two teams, Gonzaga was simply too big, too athletic, and too talented for the Gaels to overcome. Saint Mary’s had a great opportunity in the first half with Williams-Goss on the bench with foul trouble and Karnowski nursing an ankle injury, but still went into the half down by 9. Despite the adversity, the Zags always seem to find an answer.