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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Eastern Washington

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13-1

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Washington at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

How about that for a sendoff before the holidays? The Zags delivered a wonderful gift to their coaches and fans with a drubbing of their neighbors, and in doing so should find themselves with a #1 next to their name on Monday when the next AP Rankings come out.

  1. This matchup had all the markings of a trap game but I was really pleased with the energy and focus from the team right from the outset. Could have easily been checked out mentally with the early afternoon start after a really difficult stretch of games and on the precipice of an extended holiday break. Instead, they were ready to play right away and handled their business. They’ll be rewarded with an ascension to the #1 ranking on Monday.
  2. Love the patience from all the ball handlers in this game working off the ball screen game. They didn’t force anything, stayed under control and consistently made sound reads.
  3. Some of Ryan Woolridge’s moves are unfair. He pulled off a nasty spin move and dish to Filip in the paint that few people in the country would be able to defend.
  4. I was very surprised to see Anton Watson get in the game considering the issues he’s had with his ankle and shoulder. Following the game at Arizona, Few commented on how they needed to get Watson’s shoulder to calm down since it was just subluxing a bit and not disclocating, and with a 10-day layoff coming up after this game it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get him a nearly 3 week window to heal without putting himself further at risk. Of course, the medical staff obviously has a better understanding of the factors at play here and I’ll defer to their judgment but it was definitely a surprising development.
  5. Drew Timme is the kind of guy you love having on your team and would hate playing against. Love his energy and willingness to throw his body around and battle for every loose ball. Those kind of guys endear themselves to their teammates and coaches.
  6. The first half was a near perfect 20 minutes of basketball from the Zags. Don’t be fooled by the fact it was Eastern Washington, a team that has played well this season. That was an impressive stretch of basketball.
  7. It pains me to see Woolridge hesitate so much to pull the trigger on a wide open 3. I know he has been a historically poor shooter from that range, but he’s shooting 50% this season and I legitimately believe that number could be higher if he shot more frequently when in rhythm from the arc. He seems to always think twice before taking the shot. Just let them fly if you’re open, man!
  8. Happy to see Gilder put together his best offensive performance in a Gonzaga jersey. He’ll get to go into the mini-break feeling positive about his game and have some time to continue to recover physically. Hopefully he can use this game as a catalyst for the second half of the season.
  9. Gonzaga operates the most efficient offense in the country and demonstrated in this game what an offense of that caliber looks like. GU’s 64 first half points was the most that Gonzaga had scored in a half in the KenPom era. There are a bunch of teams in the country that regularly don’t score that number in a game. Virginia, for example, has only scored more than 64 points in a single game on one occasion this season.
  10. I think the Zags will stop the trend of the top ranked team losing immediately upon ascending to that position. It has been a wild season, to be sure, but taking a look at the schedule the Zags likely won’t be threatened until they see BYU on January 18 in The Kennel. That should provide some stability at the top of the rankings...for now.