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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win at LMU

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NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Zags took care of business this weekend, and tightened things up significantly at the defensive end which allowed them to move up 15 spots in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings after the two game set in Southern California. They will need to build on these performances with a challenging weekend ahead as Santa Clara (fresh off an upset win at Saint Mary’s) and BYU head to Spokane looking to enhance their NCAA Tournament profiles. Here’s what I took away from Gonzaga’s matinee win in Los Angeles:

  1. Gonzaga picked up where it left off against USD with its defensive effort and attention to detail. Defensive communication appeared to be much better, and it allowed the Zags to defend the whole floor much more effectively as a collective unit.
  2. One of the better passing games I’ve seen from Filip this season. He had a nice dime to Ayayi in transition early in the first half, and his interior passing was much more aware and effective than it has been.
  3. Gonzaga tried to push the tempo to offset LMU’s deliberate pace, but it seemed to disrupt the offensive rhythm and resulted in a pretty sloppy opening first half. The second half was a much more patient and clean half of basketball which resulted in a lot more jumpers being taken in rhythm and better play overall.
  4. Nice work by LMU on its rebrand. Their overall aesthetic is greatly improved with the lighter color scheme enhancing their jerseys and home court.
  5. The Lions packed the paint and made a concerted effort to force Gonzaga to become perimeter oriented, and it paid off as the Zags struggled mightily to make any jump shots. Only one of Gonzaga’s first 12 made field goals was a jump shot, as the Zags couldn’t get anything that wasn’t a layup or dunk in the first half.
  6. If you were wondering how poor the shooting was on both sides, it took 16 minutes before there was a made 3-pointer from either team. Admon Gilder’s three with 4 minutes left in the half ended a combined 0-15 effort from the arc.
  7. Hat tip to LMU’s Eli Scott, who still produced an impressive game despite having to deal with Gonzaga’s assortment of forwards who are actually equipped to defend him. Unfortunately for Scott, he’s the only offense that LMU has.
  8. It’s so fun to watch Killian Tillie play basketball. His skill set is so broad he doesn’t even need to score to have a big impact on the game.
  9. The Zags frequently had to cycle through multiple offensive actions against LMU’s compact defense. The most effective sequences ended up being two-man games or Woolridge and Gilder winning off the dribble. It took them a little while to find formulas that worked, but they eventually did, and that’s the type of problem solving you want to see them figure out over the course of a game and will serve them well in tournament play against unfamiliar opponents.
  10. It’s time to shut down Anton Watson for a few weeks and give his shoulder a fighting chance to make it through a basketball game without popping out. That’s the best possible thing that could happen for Watson’s long term future and for the team’s March chances.