“Mathews for three, ohhhh my goodness.” These are the words ensuring Jordan Mathews never has to buy his own beer in Spokane.
If that ain’t enough, how about possibly the best play of the season.
How could you not love the guy? A three-point specialist who took twice as many shots from beyond the arc than inside it, he was motivated enough to graduate from Cal Berkley in just three years to come to Gonzaga. Holding a basketball before he could walk, his dad was a WCC head coach for nine seasons, then an assistant at Nebraska and UCLA. He even had the stoner vote after an appearance on Teletubbies.
After going 4 for 7 from deep in the Utah Valley State opener, then following that with 5 for 7 against San Diego State, Zags fans were drooling over the deep shooting Cal transfer.
Then he went 8 for 29 from deep over the next 5 games including the AdvoCare Tournament.
That was Jordan’s season in a nutshell; peaks and valleys. Fan support would disappear faster than a bag of Cheetos at a Weight Watchers meeting. Then, every time you were ready to write him off, he’d go 4 for 9 from deep against Tennessee or hit 4 for 6 threes in the first game against St. Mary’s and you’d love him again.
That’s the problem with being a deep threat; inconsistency. Sure his overall offensive numbers weren’t as good as they were the previous year at Cal, but he also wasn’t getting as many shots. Shoot when you’re hot, shoot to get hot. If he had a game where he went 0 for 3, instead of continuing to shoot, Gonzaga had the luxury of letting three or four other players take over the offense. He’d have to wait until the next game to regain his stroke.
So why did he keep playing when he wasn’t scoring? He took care of the ball and Mark Few loves that. Jordan averaged only .8 turnovers per game and his assist to turnover ratio, even playing with two point guards, was almost 2 to 1. Coaches kids learn the fundamentals early. The other reason defense.
What the Gonzaga guards accomplished last year in shutting down the perimeter was nothing short of phenomenal. With the possible exception of Silas Melson, none were superior athletes like Jeremy Pargo, possessed the quickness of Demetri Goodson nor the height or length of those guards from West Virginia or South Carolina. They were athletic enough and smart enough to work as a cohesive unit, playing head’s up basketball and covering each other as needed. It’s easy to dismiss Jordan Mathews and/or Josh Perkins as average defenders, but the perimeter defense was a case of a whole being much greater than the sum of the parts. Mathews was a big part of that successful whole.
Jordan also seamlessly integrated into a team after not arriving to school until September. He provided senior leadership, nearly mistake free basketball and was thrilling to watch when he did get hot. Jordan Mathews, you done good. By the way, if I ever see you in a bar, I’m buying.