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10 Observation from Gonzaga’s Win Over North Dakota

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NCAA Basketball: North Dakota at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Three games in and the team is as good as even the most optimistic fan could have hoped. They face their first test this week against an SEC team on the road, but keep in mind we still haven’t seen this team at their best until Tillie returns.

1. It seemed out of place when I mentioned it in the game summary, but the ambidexterity of Petrusev, Timme, and Watson is impressive. Even Kispert getting to the rim is very adept at using his left hand. Petrusev and Timme are so quick and decisive going right or left with their post moves, it will continue to be a defensive nightmare for opponents.

2. Speaking of defense at the rim, North Dakota was getting killed by Petrusev down low in the first half, so they tried double teaming him to begin the second half. Two really sweet passes to Watson on consecutive plays put an end to the double teaming. As impressive as Petrusev’s were, some credit must given to Watson who put himself in a easy position to score.

3. Speaking of assists, Corey Kispert had five in the first half. Corey was given the “glue guy” misnomer to begin the season. He’s established himself as the vocal team leader scoring over 19 points with 4 assists per game.

4. Watching Joel Ayayi perform for France at the U19 this summer, I was reminded by Rui playing for Japan, i.e. a guy with the green light to shoot anytime from anywhere. I was concerned he wouldn’t be able to perform within the constraints of Few’s team-oriented offense. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Joel is making great decisions and his three-point shots never seem forced or outside of the offensive flow. He just turned 19 this past March and will continue to get better and more comfortable as the season progresses.

5. Ryan Woolridge is 7 for 8 from the free throw line over the last two games. He also has 19 assists and only 6 turnovers in the three games.

6. Drew Timme was 8 for 10 from the floor last night. He’s got great hands, superior post moves, is a pretty good ball handler, crashes the offensive boards and above all a high basketball IQ. For some reason though in the past two games, he’s been called with a foul where he obviously did nothing wrong. I think his body control must surprise the refs and they assume anyone that big must have committed the foul.

7. Speaking of Timme’s fouls, Mark Few exploded after a particularly bad call and the team responded with a 10 – 0 run, 14 – 1 overall. I think I remember Few being T’d up only once in the several hundred GU games I’ve watched. Think about how many close games the Zags have won because their coach never cost them unnecessary free throws or losses of possession.

8. After sitting out his redshirt year, Johnathan Williams III was 8 for 21 from the floor with 9 turnovers in his first 3 games. He then exploded over the next three games shooting 18 for 21. I’m getting the same kind of vibe from Admon Gilder. He’s 13 for 31 over his first three games as a Zag, but he’s showing flashes of brilliance including his 2 for 3 from deep last night. I won’t be surprised if he has a great game against his former team this Friday.

9. Seeing the Zags second unit on the floor; Timme, Zakharov, Arlauskas, Ayayi and Lang really gives me hope for next season. Especially when you consider Watson will be in the 2nd unit when Tillie returns and Ballo will also be part of this group. Then consider adding Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris and Chet Holmgren to that group. Scary Good!!!

10. Listening to Mike Roth go through the graduation rates last night was a real pleasure. Especially when he started going through the list of guys who’d graduated with basketball eligibility remaining. I also got a kick out of Roth mentioning to Dickau about leaving his hometown to raise his family in Spokane and the former players who have remained in the local area.