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10 Observations from the Santa Clara game

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24-0!

NCAA Basketball: Santa Clara at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in school history, the Kennel hosted a #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldog basketball team. Things went well.

  1. Nigel Williams-Goss sat out the game with a sore ankle that he injured in the first half against BYU on Thursday night. While Nigel didn’t seem too bothered by the ankle in the second half of that game (much to BYU’s detriment), it did start bothering him on Friday and Saturday afternoon’s shootaround. Good move by all parties to give him time to recover, with much bigger fish to fry ahead. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go for the Saint Mary’s game next weekend.
  2. Gonzaga’s streak of not trailing in a game ended at 267 minutes and 14 seconds on a Nate Kratch 3-pointer that put the Broncos up 5-4 just two minutes into the game. It was the first time the Zags have trailed in a game since being down 28-27 in the first half against Saint Mary’s on January 14. Time to start a new streak.
  3. Gonzaga’s offense wasn’t very sharp for the first 9-10 minutes of this game with the ball movement being a little suboptimal. Not surprising considering they had to adjust to playing without Nigel Williams-Goss on the fly. But, it was encouraging to them figure things out and take care of business. Great teams are able to adjust and overcome adversity, and that’s what the Zags did last night.
  4. I know Johnathan Williams has made enough 3s (10-23) this season that other teams have had to include it in their scouting report. But, it was really curious to see Santa Clara’s Emmanuel Ndumanya leave Przemek Karnowski alone on the low block in order to shade over to Williams standing at the corner 3. Ndumanya’s choice created a wide open passing lane into the paint and an easy dunk for Przemek. Not a great decision if you’re picking your poison.
  5. Bryan Alberts got 5 minutes in the first half to fill in the backcourt rotation minutes with Nigel sitting out. This was a rare opportunity for Alberts to capitalize on playing some meaningful minutes in a game. I don’t think he forced the coaching staff to reconsider his rotation status for the future, but he did a decent job. He “only” shot 1-3 from the arc, but more importantly showed he was confident in taking his shot in the flow of the offense as he found himself open on the perimeter on several occasions.
  6. Silas Melson had one of the strangest first half lines you’ll ever see. He played 18 minutes in the first half without recording a single statistic. Maybe we can credit him with some hockey assists?
  7. Przemek found himself guarding Jared Brownridge at the 3-point after a switch. Brownridge tried to blow by him for a layup, but the chicken enthusiast was able to keep Brownridge in front of him long enough to carry Brownridge from the arc through the paint and force Brownridge to get rid of the ball late which forced a shot clock violation. Great defensive sequence by Karnowski.
  8. Nice game from Killian Tillie who finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds just 2 weeks removed from a nasty looking ankle injury. I’m still shocked that he recovered so quickly, but I’m glad he’s back as it gave us a chance to see the rare “turn your back to the opponent on defense but still block his shot anyway” play. This play is so rare that the broadcasters likened it to a “reverse-spike” in volleyball. I’m no volleyball expert, but I’m not totally sure that is a thing.
  9. Josh Perkins stepped up and played very well in Nigel’s absence, showing that he’s more than capable of shouldering the point guard duties without his backcourt mate. It was unsettling to see him bang knees with a Santa Clara player, as you can’t really run a two-point guard offense without any point guards, but good to see it wasn’t serious. Perkins finished the game with 8 assists but got taken out with a little over 7 minutes left to play. If he had a chance to finish out the game, he likely would have hit double digit assists and been the first Zag to hit that mark since Matt Bouldin in 2009.
  10. Rem Bakamus and Dustin Triano both got on the score sheet. The Zags will stay at #1 on a day when six teams ranked in the Top-10 all lost. All is right in the world.