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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s Win Over Kansas

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Fort Myers Tip-Off Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Gonzaga has reached a point in the program’s elevation where its players no longer feel the pressure of the No. 1 ranking and fully expect to win games against the Kansas and Duke’s of the world. That was evident from the outset of this game as the Zags raced out to a 14-point lead. Even as the Jayhawks clawed their way back from a double digit deficit, the Zags never appeared to doubt they were going to win the game. This is going to be a special team and a special season. Don’t just take my word for it:

  1. Jalen Suggs. That’s it. That’s the observation.
  2. Drew Timme is going to be an All-American. Go ahead and screenshot this.
  3. Gonzaga’s press will be much improved with Watson back and Suggs and Ayayi in the starting backcourt. Watson at the tip of the 1-2-2 press is going to cause opponents a lot of problems thanks to his length, instincts, and athleticism. The halfcourt defense is still a work in progress, but there’s a lot of potential for this team to be a stingy defensive squad. Don’t forget Kansas is a pretty good team too.
  4. This the most athletic team that Gonzaga has ever assembled. They are going to crush teams in transition, particularly with the ability of Suggs and Ayayi to rebound and lead a breakout. It doesn’t let up either when the starters take a breather considering Andrew Nembhard is coming off the bench.
  5. Gonzaga’s offense looks like a nightmare to scheme against. Kansas should be a top 5 defensive team this season and just got torched for 102 points. The Zags are not dependent on any one particular way of playing. The ability to seamlessly work inside out, break defenses down with dribble handoffs, and create mismatches thanks to the versatility of pretty much everyone in the lineup forces is highly disruptive to opposing schemes.
  6. Gonzaga’s going to have lots of high scoring games simply because of their pace. Coupled with the offense’s extreme efficiency, this is the first of many times this season that the century mark will be reached.
  7. All of Oumar Ballo’s rough edges were on display in the first half. He hasn’t played against too many (probably any) teams that have bigs with the length and strength to defend him straight up. He received a lesson pretty quickly that he can’t bully teams with basic moves. He’ll improve as the year goes along but he’s not at a place where he can be relied upon to play a sizable role.
  8. Love seeing Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther getting a quick run in the first half. Nembhard’s unexpected eligibility was bad news for Harris on a personal level as he’s the one whose minutes will be squeezed, but it’s not insignificant that Mark Few still got him on the floor with Kansas making a push.
  9. Even without the huge size advantage that Gonzaga has enjoyed with many recent teams, they still dominated the boards. Drew Timme and Anton Watson simply have an amazing feel for positioning and winning tip battles, and it really helps when you have multiple guards that are elite rebounders for their position.
  10. The Jayhawks weren’t going to let themselves get blown out on national TV. There’s a lot of talent on that team, even after the losses of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. This may just be me living in the spin zone, but I think the Zags are much better off getting the reps of closing out another top team.