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10 Observations from the Pacific game

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28-0!

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

Gonzaga clinched another WCC regular season title with Saturday’s win over the Pacific Tigers, but there are bigger goals ahead for this team.

  1. The Zags started both of the week’s games a little slowly, taking nearly 4 minutes before hitting a field goal. Most of the first 10 minutes felt pretty disjointed.
  2. Gonzaga is at its best when playing inside out and letting the offense flow from the interior. Pacific worked hard to deny entry passes, frequently fronting Gonzaga’s bigs on post-ups and sending a trapper from behind. This worked in disrupting the offense for a few minutes, but Przemek’s passing ability is always the great equalizer to this approach. Opponents are best served going to this defensive approach when Przemek is on the bench.
  3. Zach Collins development on the defensive end is evident by how he’s playing angles and positioning his body to take away lanes in comparison to earlier in the season. I also noticed in this game that he consistently did a good job staying big and extending his arms straight up in the air and taking away air space. This allowed him to contest without fouling, and helped him notch 5 blocks. He’s an intelligent player who clearly takes to coaching.
  4. Don’t like seeing turnovers, but can’t complain when they give us the opportunity to see Silas Melson showcase his ridiculous athleticism. His chase-down block that got called for a goaltend was awesome, regardless of the outcome of the play.
  5. Nigel Williams-Goss also had the chance to showcase his strength and athleticism on his layup to close out the first half. That was a tough shot that looked pretty routine because his upper body strength was able to absorb the contact through the finish.
  6. Gonzaga’s defense started to clamp down and generate transition opportunities to give them some easier offensive looks. Pacific could only muddle the pace of the game for so long, and once the Zags started to manufacture breakouts and fast-breaks off missed shots and turnovers this game was over.
  7. The key to Gonzaga’s top-5 defense (now ranked 2nd on KenPom) is how well they communicate on that end of the floor. You can always see them talking on switches and directing traffic/advising where screens are coming from or when a hard hedge is being made. High level defense requires serious attention to detail, and you can see this team dialed in together.
  8. Pacific gave up a lot of bad “And-1s.” They were trying to play physical against the Zags, an approach we’ve seen from LMU and BYU in recent weeks, but a lot of the contact they were making, especially at the rim, failed to prevent Gonzaga players from getting off easy attempts.
  9. For the second game in a row, we saw Collins make a nice drive that split defenders at the top of the key. He drew a foul again, but also made the layup attempt. If this is a consistent part of his arsenal now, NBA scouts are going to be very pleased.
  10. Przemek made an awesome move of his own on a baseline post-up, splitting a trap with a powerful step-through move and going up for the dunk. He missed the dunk, but that was a high-level move that showed great explosion.