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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over USF


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

The Gonzaga Bulldogs prove once again that they are capable of winning in a lot of different ways. San Francisco came to play, but simply didn’t have the juice to stop the inevitable.

  1. USF did what its WCC peers could not through the first few weeks of conference play, they brought the runaway train that was Gonzaga’s high-powered offense to a screeching halt ... for about 9 minutes. They worked hard to protect the interior and rolled the dice that the Zags would not be hot from the three-point line. For the first quarter of the game, that game plan worked out, as Gonzaga started the game 1-6 from the arc.
  2. I can’t remember the last time that Drew Timme started a game missing his first five field goal attempts, or shoot that poorly from the field in the whole game. It’s truly wild that he still managed to score 23 points in this game. That’s a credit to Timme for staying engaged despite a difficult first half, but credit also to USF’s defensive game plan to funnel him to the perimeter where they left him free to shoot and crowding him effectively in an effort to keep him out of his favored spots around the rim. The Dons elicited a sub-par game out of him last season as well in The Kennel, when he only scored 10 points on 4-10 shooting from the field.
  3. For as well as the Dons played during the first quarter of the game, building an 11 point lead through the first seven minutes, it only took Gonzaga a little over two minutes to erase that and seize control of the game. That is so incredibly demoralizing to experience if you’re on the opposing team.
  4. After Gonzaga reeled off a 17-2 run in the first half, the Dons threw a changeup at them in the form of a zone defense to try and disrupt Gonzaga’s offensive rhythm. It was a clever gambit from Todd Golden and worked out to USF’s advantage as they forced four empty possessions in a row from the Zags.
  5. I’m really impressed with Nolan Hickman’s craftiness in positioning his body to fight through screens. He possesses such good feel and understanding of the nuance needed to create marginal advantages for himself.
  6. Huge credit to USF for limiting Gonzaga to only five fastbreak points in the first half, a category where the Zags usually feast. That’s how you keep yourself in the game.
  7. Jamaree Bouyea is a phenomenal player. He’s good enough to play in the NBA and deserves a shot.
  8. Chet Holmgren blocking a three despite jumping from seemingly 40 feet away is the origin story for a shooter’s worst nightmare. What a menace!
  9. This was a great collective performance by the Big 3 of the freshman class in Holmgren, Sallis, and Hickman. Holmgren had the big stat line with Sallis and Hickman were instrumental in affecting the game with winning plays and ensuring that USF never got a break as Gonzaga went to the bench.
  10. While it wasn’t the offensive performance we were hoping for, this was definitely Gonzaga’s best defensive performance of conference play and against an extremely well-coached USF team. The intensity and attention to detail was better than it had been, and it was good to see them win a game on that end of the floor.