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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over LMU

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17-2

NCAA Basketball: Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t very pretty at the end, but Gonzaga’s defense is on the up and up there’s no question that the team is staying focused on handling its business during conference play:

  1. Brandon Clarke opened up the scoring tonight with a pull up jumper from the elbow. He’s established a consistent driving spin move that defenses are anticipating, so if he gets that mid-range pull up jumper down to play off his spin move, opponents are going to be in for a bad time trying to defend him.
  2. It’s easy to take for granted how good the interior passing is from Clarke, Rui, and Tillie since Gonzaga fans have been blessed with excellent passers in the frontcourt for years. But their vision, ability, and unselfishness is uncommon compared to the national landscape and should be appreciated.
  3. LMU entered the game ranked 40th in the country at forcing opponents into turnovers at a rate of 22.3% of possessions. In the first 8 minutes of the game, the Lions forced the Zags into 5 turnovers (8 TO’s overall in the first half) but weren’t able to take advantage by converting them points.
  4. Great work from Kispert running the floor and filling lanes. The Zags, and Crandall in particular, did a good job of pushing the ball up the floor to keep the Lions out of their halfcourt defense and bypass their traps.
  5. LMU’s defense consistently sent the helpside defender to trap or step up to draw a charge. Once the Zags adjusted, they were consistently able to get a free runner into the vacated space for an easy finish at the rim.
  6. Tillie and Crandall showed some good chemistry trapping out on the perimeter in ball screen situations. Gonzaga’s defense was starting to get it together before they returned from injury, but they’ve been catalysts in elevating the defensive to another level.
  7. Brandon Clarke was essentially unstoppable for the first few minutes of the second half in all facets of the game. He’s going to be a first round pick in the NBA Draft.
  8. Gonzaga went on a 19-4 run to start the second half, powered in large part with suffocating defense. The confidence on that end of the floor is visibly growing with each passing game.
  9. We finally got the Tillie, Clarke, and Rui lineup on the floor at the same time with Perkins and Geno rounding it out. Tillie primarily parked on the perimeter at the offensive end which allows it to work, and I thought he maintained the spacing pretty well with Rui and Clarke. But, the overall flow of the offense was a bit disjointed and the tempo was down. Whether that lineup gets increased usage, however, will be determined at the defensive end. From my point of view, I think they can all defend together without much issue since they all move well and are intelligent defenders.
  10. Petrusev is pretty much relegated to mop-up duty now that Tillie is back, but he still needs to use that time to show Few that he’s staying mentally engaged and developing his deficiencies. This was one of his tougher appearances on the season, as he did not do a good job of winning rebounding position or playing sound defense.