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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over San Diego


NCAA Basketball: San Diego at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga put together a mature home win against a feisty San Diego team looking for an upset. The short-handed Toreros, who were missing senior guard Olin Carter, acquitted themselves well. However, the Zags never got frazzled and continued to play within the structure of their schemes at both ends of the floor, and that’s what got the job done.

  1. I was very impressed with San Diego’s defensive discipline. The Toreros did a really nice job of harassing the Zags and clogging their sight lines and passing lanes. Additionally in a stark contrast to what we saw from BYU, USD was really good with its transition defense as organization in the half-court offense. They didn’t make anything easy for Gonzaga.
  2. When USD went to a 34 court press, Tillie did a nice job of sliding from side to side in the center of the floor to make himself available as an outlet for the guards positioned on each side of the floor. A lot of times we see the the man in the middle play stationary and not create a passing angle for the guard under duress.
  3. Gonzaga’s ball screen execution wasn’t very sharp in the first half. Credit should go to the Toreros for how they defended it, to be sure, but the timing of the action felt a beat off and neither the ball handler or the screener forced USD into conflict very often.
  4. Gonzaga’s defense did a pretty good job defending USD’s offensive sets for the most part and forced 17 turnovers. However, the Zags got stung a few times losing guys on broken plays. If you don’t clean up the boards or are a step slow to loose balls, you’re going to give up some very easy looks.
  5. With 32 points and a handful of splashy defensive plays, Rui did an excellent job of stepping up and shouldering the burden to keep the Zags a step ahead of USD. That’s the type of mature performance you need out of your stars to buoy the squad until everyone else gets going.
  6. Despite what I wrote in #5, Rui needs to find consistency with his balance at the free throw line. This has been an issue for two seasons now. I truly believe he could be a mid-to-high 80% free throw shooter if he cleaned up that one thing.
  7. Geno Crandall and Josh Perkins might have combined for a first in program history when they linked up for an alley-oop in the second half.
  8. If the Toreros are completely healthy in two weeks, the return game in San Diego could be the toughest game left on Gonzaga’s schedule.
  9. Like he was last year, Isaiah Pineiro once again proved to be a tough cover with his 30-burger against the No. 4 team in the country. He’s equally comfortable in the paint or shooting a pull up jumper on the perimeter, and presents a difficult matchup problem. Few opted not to have Clarke assigned to him full time since doing so could pull Clarke away from the rim considering how much Pineiro works on the perimeter, but Rui had a pretty tough time guarding him on the perimeter due to Pinerio’s deep array of crafty moves that allow him to consistently create space.
  10. Zach Norvell’s step-back game was devastating all night long. He’s so fun to watch when he has that aspect of his game firing, and since that’s all the room he needs to get his shot off it makes him nearly unguardable. Even better though was his high level of efficiency. He put together his first 20+ point game since December 28, and he did it while shooting 7-10 from the field (5-7 from 3PT).