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10 Observations from the BYU game

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29-1...yuck.

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

I’m still bummed about last night and had to spend the morning processing this loss, but the show must go on.

  1. Rem got the start! Awesome gesture by Mark Few to reward him for his years of service to the program. For the rest of Rem’s life, he’ll get to say he started a game for the #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. Plus, the time he was on the floor was the team’s best stretch in the whole game.
  2. Przemek was at his best in the opening minutes of the game. He’s always had a good feel for what opposing defenses are doing to him, but he was on a different level for those first four minutes of the game. I would have liked to see the ball get pounded into him more during the stretches when the offense got stagnant. This team’s best ball comes when it plays inside-out.
  3. BYU’s offense hasn’t looked sharp since LJ Rose was lost for the season, and in terms of flow and rhythm to the offense, it wasn’t really good again last night. However, the Cougars leaned heavily on Eric Mika, TJ Haws, and Elijah Bryant to make great individual plays, and those three guys delivered.
  4. You don’t see Silas Melson get crossed up very often, but he got hit with a nasty one from TJ Haws which freed him up for an open 3. I should’ve known at that point that something wasn’t right about this game.
  5. BYU got back into the game in the first half thanks to several empty possessions from the Zags when their offensive spacing was uncharacteristically poor. Guys weren’t creating nice cutting lanes, or making themselves easily available for a kickout on the perimeter.
  6. I was surprised when Elijah Bryant drove to the basket and absorbed contact from Karnowski and still found a way to finish. Bryant has a big build, but it takes some serious upper body strength to maintain your balance and finish that play.
  7. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it is really hard to win a game when you shot 16-29 from the free throw line. The Zags shot really well on 2PA, but the parade of bricks at the free throw line and only 3-16 (18.8%) from 3 really hurt them.
  8. Nigel Williams-Goss came up with several big shots throughout the game, but he didn’t seem to be his normal calming presence on the floor. He was visibly frustrated on several occasions throughout the night, sometimes in mid-possession (Johnathan Williams totally missed him open at the 3 after Emery had fallen down). I kept expecting him to instill some composure in the team, particularly in the final minutes of the game, but it never happened.
  9. Josh Perkins penchant for bad turnovers popped up at the worst possible time. Perkins had six turnovers in the game, and none bigger than the two he had in the final minute. He seems to press “fast-forward” under pressure, when he’d be better served to slow things down.
  10. Senior Night seems to have a way of making our guys play manic—at least for the last 3 years—and that trend continued in this game. The Zags just didn’t play with the discipline and composure on both ends of the floor that we’d gotten used to this season. On defense, rotations seemed a step slow and sloppy, and they bit on a lot of pump fakes on the perimeter. I already touched on the free throw problem, and 16 turnovers doesn’t help. I’m sure there were a lot of emotions swirling with Senior Night, the chance to finish the regular season undefeated, giving up the lead after the way they opened up the game, and having lost the last two senior night games. All of that together seemed to be too much to overcome at the end of the game. The loss was devastating for sure, but all of the team’s goals are still in front of them. Time to get back to work so they don’t have to feel the sting of defeat again.