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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win at USF


NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

20-0. Take a beat to let that sink in. Only one other Gonzaga team has pulled off that feat, and we know how far that group went. Mark Few has also reached the 20-win benchmark in each of his first 22 seasons on the job, tying Bill Self and placing himself within two seasons of Coach K’s mark at 24. Impressive benchmarks all around, and Gonzaga was able to get there in style:

  1. USF had no answer for Drew Timme. They tried just about every trick in the book (and honestly weren’t doing too bad of a job), but he simply couldn’t be stopped. That was one of the most captivating starts to a game (15 points in the first six minutes while shooting a perfect 7-7 from the field) by any player that I’ve ever seen. These weren’t a bunch of uncontested finished either, there were a lot of tough looks in there. I have no doubts he would have scored 40 points if Mark Few let him. In fact, Few was the only one in the gym who was able to slow Timme down.
  2. Gonzaga’s defense has been trending up over the last few weeks, and was STIFLING to open this game. The Zags made the USF offense look awful early forcing the Dons to miss their first 10 field goal attempts while adding five turnovers in the first four minutes just for good measure. The game was effectively over a quarter of the way through, but Gonzaga’s defense never relented and made the afternoon a miserable one for Todd Golden and Co.
  3. Over the last 3-4 weeks, Corey Kispert hasn’t quite hit the same heights that he was playing at during the first two months of the season as opposing defenses have focused heavily on shutting him down. He appeared to be pressing just a bit in this game in an effort to get going. He also had a handful of shots come out short and flat, which is a good indicator that he’s simply not in rhythm at the moment. Something to watch over the last few games of conference play.
  4. I liked the controlled aggression from Suggs during the closing minutes of the first half to put a ton of pressure on USF. He created a lot of trips to the free throw line by being dialed in on the defensive end to manufacture transition opportunities while forcing stops. The part I liked most, however, was that he was more judicious with picking when to jump passing lanes and didn’t compromise the overall defensive integrity in the halfcourt when doing so.
  5. USF is disproportionately reliant on the three point line for its offense. It’s stunning to see a team that built its entire offense on the three-ball have such a difficult time creating good looks from the arc. The Zags were there to contest everything—it was a great effort.
  6. Another example of how good Gonzaga’s defensive effort was? USF caught an in-bounds pass out-of-bounds for a turnover, and had to call a timeout on another occasion because of the effectiveness of Gonzaga’s ball denial coverage. That’s the stuff that the coaching staff is going to love re-living when they watch this tape.
  7. The rebounding disparity between the two teams wasn’t that massive, but it felt like Gonzaga grabbed every rebound. USF had very few multiple shot possessions.
  8. I’m pretty sure Taavi Jurkataam and Josh Kunen are going to have nightmares about #2 in the black jersey for a long time.
  9. Dominick Harris throwing down an alley oop followed by Julian Strawther converting a smooth contested three on back-to-back possessions is just another reminder of what’s to come from that duo in the next few years. Those guys can play. .
  10. For the second game in a row, Andrew Nembhard started in place of Anton Watson, and the Zags were able to race out to quick starts on both occasions. The change worked well against an undersized USF squad, and while I believe Watson provides a lot of balance to the rotation as a starter, if this continues to help avoid the sluggish starts that have plagued Gonzaga for much of the WCC slate you have to stay with it.