The Gonzaga Bulldogs get their final tune-up game before diving into what is largely considered the meat of the non-conference schedule with a weekend contest against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners.
The Zags have had plenty of time to sit in the corner and think about what they have done after a much closer than expected win over UT Arlington on Tuesday. It wasn’t all bad news, however, because Killian Tillie returned for the first time this season, so yay!
Cal State is coming off a drubbing from the WCC’s very own San Francisco Dons. The loss leaves the Warriors at 2-3, with the only two wins coming non D-I competition.
Meet the opponent
Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, 2-3, KenPom #244
By the metrics so far, the Roadrunners aren’t the worst team the Zags have faced so far this year, but they definitely are not very good. They are led by junior forward/guard Taze Moore (15 points per game) and freshman froward Shawn Stith (12 points). Senior point guard Cameron Allen comes in third, averaging 11.8 points per game.
Moore is one of the more interesting players on the floor for the Warriors. He can shoot the three, is a tenacious defender, an adept blocker (top 100 block percentage) and a pretty solid defensive rebounder. He can score pretty effectively as well, shooting 57 percent on the year.
He compliments quite nicely with Stith, who is one of the better guards at the country at getting to the line. Stith ranks No. 54 in the nation for fouls drawn per 40 minutes, and averages 6.8 free throw attempts per game.
It is hard, however, to determine how much of the good exists for the Roadrunners. Much like Gonzaga, their stats are slightly inflated by some of their competition, only, unlike Gonzaga, that competition isn’t D-I level in two games.
What to watch out for
A better game from Gonzaga.
There were a lot of things not working well for Gonzaga against UT Arlington. The defense was mostly a mess, the free throw shooting in the first half was non-existent, the free throw shooting in the second half was atrocious, and the offense generated just 10 assists in the game, the lowest amount this season. There is no way Mark Few and the coaching staff were satisfied with Tuesday’s results. Expect a much tighter effort from the Zags.
Ferris Kispert’s Day(s) Off.
Corey Kispert has been stellar in two games (Alabama State and North Dakota), glue guy serviceable in another (Arkansas Pine-Bluff), and completely non-existent in two more (Texas A&M and UT Arlington). Perhaps he hates Texas that much. Either way, for two straight games, Kispert has been bad. In a total of 64 minutes he is 2-for-18, 2-of-13 from three, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and four turnovers. A grand total of six points in two games. Kispert has one chance (two counting the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis) before things start to heat up. He has to figure it out now.
Those roster minutes.
We all know Mark Few likes to run a tight ship, but the game against UT Arlington was almost a bit too tight. Drew Timme, Anton Watson, and Joel Ayayi played 19, 19, and 13 respectively. Although it may not seem like it, this season, we have seen a decent amount of bench minutes. Through five games, the bench has gobbled up 30 percent of available minutes, the most for Gonzaga since the 2016-17 season.