The San Francisco Dons’ year has been a pleasant one to watch, but it is rapidly looking like it will end in March, and Gonzaga is going to extend that misery a bit.
The Zags looked fantastic last week, going on the road to BYU and defeating the Cougars by 30 points. Gonzaga hardly skipped a beat at home, besting San Diego by almost the same amount.
San Francisco, on the other hand, could use a mulligan on last week. The Dons lost to both Saint Mary’s and San Diego on the road. Any hope of a NCAA Tournament bid as a darling bubble team completely lies on winning against Gonzaga in Spokane, a rather tall order.
What to watch out for
The Frankie Ferrari show.
The senior point guard for San Francisco is a delight to watch, and on any other day, he has my full support in success. He is a crafty point guard who constantly finds ways to score, and makes his teammates much better. In Gonzaga’s win at San Francisco this year, Ferrari still finished with 21 points.
Steven did a fantastic breakdown of the Zags’ defense afterwards, but the overall takeaway stands up: If Ferrari has the ball, the Zags need to fight through every screen and keep a hand in his face at all times. San Francisco has a nearly top 50 offense and defense, and all of it starts with Ferrari facilitating the offense. If the defense breaks in any way, he is able to find that crack and hurt the Zags. Ferrari is dangerous in isolation, and he will try and use screens to find the mismatches.
Crash the defensive boards.
One of the ways the Dons kept it relatively close was through second chance points. By the stats, San Francisco isn’t a particularly good offensive rebounding team, but earlier this year they grabbed 15 offensive boards. The Zags are still a pretty generic team when it comes to defensive rebounding. For San Francisco to win this game, they will need everything to go right and then get a bit of extra help—that is how wide the gulf is in the WCC currently.
Consistency from Killian Tillie.
It was never going to be easy for the Gonzaga junior forward to make the jump back in after missing the first half of the season with an ankle injury. After a couple of slow starts, Tillie looked nearly perfect against San Francisco, minus the foul trouble. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Since that game, he has only scored in double figures once, and is constantly battling foul trouble or just lack of opportunities. Tillie is one of the most unique scoring options on the team, but he isn’t quite up to speed yet. As we begin the second half of conference play, it would be nice to see Tillie string together a few quality games.