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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Fairleigh Dickinson

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5 wins to go.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Farleigh Dickinson vs Gonzaga Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Gonzaga team we saw for most of the season. After laying an egg in the WCC Final, the Zags demonstrated that they had already shaken off the loss to Saint Mary’s and looked like a team on a mission:

  1. The Zags—understandably comfortable with their ability to keep their defender in front of them or recover—were willing to extend themselves away from the paint without fear of getting burned on penetration. It was apparent that Gonzaga’s defensive plan was to protect the perimeter and prevent the Knights from creating good looks from the arc where they shoot the ball really well.
  2. Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura both did a great job of getting downhill and attacking FDU’s frontcourt. The Knights play with a very short rotation, so getting their frontcourt in foul trouble inside the first 10 minutes of the game really helped out Gonzaga (not that it needed any help).
  3. It was nice to see Zach Norvell’s first three-point attempt go down since his last outing went so poorly. Norvell has never lacked for confidence, but it still helps the psyche to see a shot go in after a bad performance.
  4. The Knights had to play a perfect game to stay with the Zags, so they essentially put the nail in their own coffin when they started with a slew of turnovers and missed 11 of their first 12 shot attempts.
  5. The first half was a massive flex. Unbelievably impressive 20 minutes of basketball in all areas of the game.
  6. FDU mixed in some zone and man, but didn’t find any success with either. It’s not exactly fair to evaluate their defense considering how good Gonzaga’s offense is, but it didn’t seem like they had any type of identity at that end of the floor.
  7. You have to appreciate Gonzaga’s energy and the killer instinct on display in the first half. That was exactly the type of effort level you expect to see from high character team coming off a loss.
  8. Fairleigh Dickinson may be one of the worst rebounding teams I’ve ever seen.
  9. Perkins does a really nice job of using his pivot foot to constantly manipulate and adjust the angles available to him when making entry passes into the post. It’s an underrated aspect of his game.
  10. The Zags took their foot off the peddle for a bit in the second half, and despite being up by 36 points, Mark Few looked like the most disappointed coach ever. It was hilarious. Well done to Gonzaga on setting a new program record for largest margin of victory in the tournament.