I was lucky enough to attend the Zags’ first true road game of the season at Santa Clara, despite the game only having a 25% crowd capacity (due to California’s guidelines and the decision of the university). The energy in the building may have been lacking but the play on the court from Gonzaga was at full throttle.
couldn’t spell the name right but glad to be back at the Leavey Center. a lot of great memories on this court. pic.twitter.com/iQ6cMqysnC— Arden Independence Cravalho (@a_cravalho) January 15, 2022
The Broncos were at full strength against Gonzaga (Josip Vrankic was dealing with mononucleosis for a major part of the season and PJ Pipes just recently returned from undisclosed reasons). Many have said that Santa Clara was the sleeper team in the WCC but Gonzaga may have put that take to bed.
The size of Gonzaga in the three-headed monster of Drew Timme, Chet Holmgren, and Anton Watson (all three players combined for 31 of Gonzaga’s 46 rebounds) was extremely bothersome for Vrankic who had a quiet night, only finishing with 6 points and 1 lonely rebound. The senior came into the game averaging 15 points and 6 boards per game.
Drew Timme pulled out every single offensive trick he had from his deep bag. You name it, he did it. Everyone’s favorite Texan finished with a game-high 32 points on 14-18 shooting. He has shot 34-43 from the field (79.1%) over his last three games. One of the most efficient finishers near the rim in all of college basketball.
As for the backcourt, Rasir Bolton and Andrew Nembhard were making sure everyone was getting involved in the fun. The duo combined for half of Gonzaga’s 26 assists and also decided to chip in 31 points as well. Those two need to get more recognition nationally, it seems like we haven’t been talking about them enough when it comes to the reason for Gonzaga’s success this season. Without these leaders who both transferred over to Spokane, the Zags would not be where they are at today.
Gonzaga dribble weave into a ball screen and weak side flare. Not a super common action from them the last two seasons, but it’s excellent. pic.twitter.com/NMWeoez3C3— Steven Karr (@SKarrG0) January 15, 2022
Remember when fans thought the biggest issue surrounding this squad was their three-point shooting? Gonzaga must’ve been checking Twitter recently cause they are one of the hottest teams in the nation from deep. Against the Broncos, GU shot 12 for 26 on three-pointers. That’s the 5th time in the last 6 games that the Zags have shot 10+ triples.
It was just an absolute offensive clinic put on by the #1 team in the nation (well, not officially until Monday morning when the new AP poll comes out).
You couldn’t have asked for a better start to WCC play from the Zags’ offense. Gonzaga has averaged 114 points in their first three WCC games. The Zags have beaten those three opponents (Pepperdine, BYU, Santa Clara) by an average of 31 points. They’re also the first team over the last 25 seasons to score 60 points in the 1st half of 3 consecutive games vs D-I opponents. Just unbelievable.
Gonzaga now has 12 days off until their next opponent in LMU comes to Spokane on January 27th. Will the Zags be able to schedule an out-of-conference matchup or possibly move a future league game up to fill that gap? Can’t wait to find out.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho