Gonzaga has yet to play back-to-back true road games this season. That will change this weekend. Without fans, true road games don’t mean as much as normal, but it will still be a different challenge for the Bulldogs. They begin the trip Thursday in San Diego to take on the Toreros. USD was the last WCC team not named BYU or Saint Mary’s to defeat Gonzaga. Since that loss on February 22, 2014, the Zags are 96-0 against everyone in the league outside of the Gaels and Cougars.
Meet the Opponent
San Diego Toreros: 2-6 (1-3), KenPom 186
Covid affected the San Diego program more than most. They had multiple pauses the first two months of the year, limiting them to just four non-conference games. They didn’t start their season until December 9th. The last couple games, they have been playing with just seven scholarship players due to Covid and injuries.
They have wins over Portland and Cal Poly. Out of their six losses, they were within striking distance in several of them. They led San Francisco at halftime before giving up a late run. They were tied at Nevada with three minutes remaining. Their game at LMU went to overtime after a buzzer beater from the Toreros, but they couldn’t win it in the extra session. In short, this team is feisty, despite the limited roster.
Sam Scholl is an excellent young coach who always has San Diego play with intensity on the defensive end and on the glass. In their win over Portland last Saturday, five players finished in double figures. Leading scorer Joey Calcaterra returned after missing two games and poured in 12 points. Josh Parrish, a grad transfer wing from Rice, is averaging 11.9 points a game. Starting point guard Frankie Hughes, a transfer from Duquesne, missed last game because of a personal issue. No word on if he will be ready for Thursday’s contest. Finn Sullivan and Marion Humphrey, both returners from last season, have filled in during Calcaterra and Hughes’ absences.
Senior big man Yauhen Massalski, their leading shot blocker and rebounder, has been injured and missed the last three games. Without him, their only size inside are transfers Vladimir Pinchuk (6’11”, New Mexico) and Ben Pyle (6’7”, Western Illinois), along with 6’7” returner Jared Rodriguez.
If you’re confused by all the chaos within this roster, imagine how their coaching staff feels without any consistency. It doesn’t matter who suits up on Thursday, Gonzaga has to go out and dominate. San Diego is not a good offensive team. Only two players shoot above 30 percent from deep. In their loss to UCLA, they went 11-for-42 inside the arc. Last season at Jenny Craig Pavilion, Gonzaga went up 53-16 at halftime. It would not be shocking to see something similar on Thursday night.
Game: Gonzaga at San Diego
Time: Thursday, 6 pm pacific
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports
Announcers: Greg Heister and Dan Dickau
KenPom: Gonzaga 91-66