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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Northern Arizona


NCAA Basketball: Northern Arizona at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

That was an excellent way to head into the holiday break. The Zags will have a good taste in their mouths for the next week after a near perfect performance with the entire roster getting a chance to hit the floor.

  1. Starting the game with consecutive three-pointers from your two bigs followed by a post spin move from your point guard is a heck of a way to stress an opposing defense. When Gonzaga is showing that type of versatility, there’s not much a defense can do to stop that.
  2. Chet Holmgren blocking a shot at one end, taking the ball up the court, and pulling up at the top of the arc to convert his third consecutive three to start the game is *chef’s kiss* so tasty. Yes, the level of competition is not the best in college basketball (no offense to NAU), but it’s that type of sequence that has NBA scouts and general managers salivating at his potential. That’s not normal stuff.
  3. Virginia Tech messed up by letting Jalen Cone leave Blacksburg. What a fun player to watch and a tough cover with his quickness, tight handle, and quick release. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to keep him in front of you and guard him. That the Lumberjacks were still in reach of the Zags nearly 10 minutes into the game despite GU shooting the ball well from the three-point line and not turning the ball over is a testament to Cone’s ability to carry NAU’s offense. I wish Cone was on a WCC roster.
  4. Some savage shots from our home broadcast crew on their teammate Greg Heister. What a delightful trio.
  5. Weekly appreciation comment for Hunter Sallis and his on-ball defense. You can absolutely be a weapon for your defensive ability and Sallis is proving that. At the other end of the floor, his highlight plays are SPECTACULAR. What an athlete. As his game continues to develop and round out, he’s going to be a national sensation.
  6. Jalen Cone’s first step is electric, but Rasir Bolton’s isn’t too far off either. He’s a menace and a perfect fit for Gonzaga’s offensive philosophy.
  7. Nice adjustment in the second half to use Holmgren to double on Jalen Cone. His length bothers everyone, even the super quick jitterbugs like Cone, and forced the ball out of Cone’s hands for most of the final 20 minutes. The Zags were not in danger of losing this game, but you still want to see the adjustments and attention to detail as this group learns what will work against the various types of players they may see during the NCAA Tournament.
  8. It was a small detail during a 25-point lead held by the Zags in the second half, but Andrew Nembhard set a very heady screen to free up for Julian Strawther for a wide open three in the corner. Strawther didn’t make the shot, but it was a high-level awareness play from Nembhard who’s usually not in the situation to set one of those since he’s generally the one making the pass.
  9. Nice to see Kaden Perry return to action after a flare up with his back in the pre-game warmup against Tarleton State on November 29. It’s important to see him healthy so he can get any time on the floor that is available to him. Every minute of action is a valuable minute for him.
  10. Anton Watson has been absolutely fantastic over the last four games. He’s been a complete player who has been significantly impactful at both ends of the floor. Hopefully this is a new baseline for him and his arrow continues pointing up.