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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Auburn

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

If there was any doubt whether the Gonzaga Bulldogs should be ranked as the preseason No. 1, they put those doubts to bed in two games in Fort Myers. We expected them to be one of the elite teams this season, but it’s one thing to look at this team on paper and expect good things and a different thing to see how that talent is manifested on the court.

  1. Every turnover generated by Gonzaga is an automatic two points the other way. In a related point, the Zags are going to manufacture A LOT of turnovers this season.
  2. Drew Timme’s game brings (good) tears to my eyes. He is such a good operator in the post—footwork, understanding of space and angles, and strength to seal is elite. The fact that he can step out to the perimeter and even knock down a three is completely silly.
  3. Gonzaga’s starting lineup will become almost impossible to defend if Anton Watson can hit threes at a 30% clip to keep opposing defenses honest. His best offense will come on duck-ins and cleaning up loose balls around the charge circle, but if he’s able to space out the floor just a little more, the Gonzaga guards will have a field day getting into the paint. But let’s keep in mind that Watson’s primary role is to be a defensive disruptor and rebounder. Any offense he provides at this point in his career and with the scoring weapons around him is icing on the cake.
  4. The defensive rotations were much more crisp today. Expect to see that continue to improve as this team gets more game reps together and they build an understanding of how to defend on a string. Teams are going to score a decent number of points against Gonzaga simply by virtue of the pace that GU likes to play and the extra possessions created in each game, but I do expect this team to be a quality defensive unit.
  5. Jalen Suggs has been even better than advertised. His floor vision, passing ability, athleticism, and instincts are through the roof. Every time he touches the ball something special might happen.
  6. Corey Kispert’s confidence is through the roof right now. He’s elevated his game and is playing like the undisputed leader of the nation’s best team.
  7. Aaron Cook played some really strong on-ball defense today. He’s going to be one of those unsung role guys that is reliable all season long and is definitely going to hit a key 3 in a tight spot.
  8. In contrast to the start of the second half against Kansas when the Jayhawks quickly erased their 8-point deficit, the Zags emerged from the locker room dialed in and ready to step on Auburn’s throat with a quick 7-0 run in the first 90 seconds to stretch their lead to 21 points. Ruthless stuff.
  9. We say this every year, but the team-wide unselfishness is one of my favorite things to watch about Gonzaga basketball year in and year out. It’s not about numbers for anyone, just making the right play. They truly play beautiful basketball.
  10. Mark Few confirmed after the game that the Zags had a player test positive for COVID-19. The fact that this game still happened despite that positive test is absurd to me. I realize that the teams in this event agreed to certain protocols in case of a positive test, in accordance with local county and health department guidelines, and that by contract they agreed to continue the event if there was a positive test or two. But ethically, this doesn’t sit right with me. Tournament organizers will always push to continue because $$$, and the players likely pushed to play because they’re 18-21 year olds who feel invincible and their opportunities to play this season are already reduced. Considering the long-term effects of the disease are very much unknowns, the adults need to step in and make the best decision for the health of the athletes, staff, and everyone they come into contact with. The way this was handled is a very bad look.