Anybody watch the D-1 Men’s NCAA basketball championship final? (kidding) Everything to love and loath about Josh Perkins was on display in the first 20:30. Perkins shone in the first half going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. A Perkins “3” is a thing of beauty. He doesn’t find his favorite spot on the arc and wait for the ball, he pulls-up the dribble from 21-25 feet and drains it in a single sweet beautiful motion. Perkins was the reason Gonzaga entered the locker room with a lead at halftime.
To begin the 2nd half, Perkins is bringing the opening inbounds pass up court, encounters token resistance at midcourt, dribbles between his legs then loses it leading to an uncontested lay-up. On the very next play about 10 seconds later, his entry pass to Karno is stolen leading to two Justin Jackson free throws. Lead lost.
Those two would be his only turnovers in the game. Nigel Williams-Goss also had two second half turnovers, Collins and Karnowski ended the game with four each, but these two are probably the most remembered. 20 minutes of spectacular play almost overshadowed by two mistakes in 23 seconds.
Perkins play this past season have already been discussed ad nauseam on the blog. He’s got his supporters, he’s got his detractors. What is indisputable is he played nearly 30 minutes per game for a team winning 37 and playing in April for the first time. What’s also indisputable is his performance next season will be a key to the success of the team.
In his two years as a starter, Perk has played with Wiltjer and Sabonis then Karnowski and Collins. With no dominating bigs on the horizon for next year, Guard U returns. Perkins will either lead the charge or be or be a critical 2nd option.
If Nigel Williams-Goss returns, he the front man and Josh will take on an increased responsibility to score . Expect his shot attempts to increase dramatically. Melson and Norvell will get big minutes and if Rui is ready expect the Zags to play a lot four guards with Williams or Tillie. Lots of running, lots of driving, lots of dishing with superior athletes playing tough defense. Perkins ability to hit the three as well as complete the spectacular pass will be keys to the team’s success.
If NWG goes, Perk becomes the quarterback. Melson and Norvell become the primary three-point threats and Josh concentrates on running the offense. He’ll be two years older and two years smarter than the last time he was the primary point guard. The Zags still play a lot of small ball and Perkins ability to take care of the ball while running the offense take center stage. By the way, Perkins has averaged 2 turnovers per game in his college career, NWG 2.6.
If NWG leaves and Ryan Edwards transfers, GU will have four open scholarships for next season so I realize I’m far too premature in speculating what next year’s team will look like. Even if GU does pick up a grad transfer or two, I do feel pretty confident in assuming there isn’t a Collins or Karnowski available. As high as Larsen’s ceiling may be, he hasn’t played competitively in two years and that’s a lot of rust to shake off. Welcome back Guard U.
Over the past two seasons, we’ve seen good Perk and we’ve seen bad Perk. Bad Perk’s miscues are so inopportune and inexplicable they sometimes overwhelm the spectacular things good Perk can accomplish. His style of play seems to be favorable for a free-wheelin’, small ball type of game and I look forward to seeing if he thrives in that environment.