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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over USF

25-3

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs San Francisco Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs returned to winning ways after eight days stewing over a lousy performance in Moraga, but it wasn’t a performance without some warts as the San Francisco Dons made them earn their place in the WCC Final with a late second half push.

  1. Between the execution and the attitude, the Gonzaga team that opened the game looked like a squad with an edge and a killer mentality. It was the squad that was missing in action in Moraga eight nights prior, and needs to be the version of this team that shows up for the next month. The version that closed out the game? I don’t ever want to see that group again.
  2. Gonzaga’s bigs were always going to feast on USF with Yauhen Massalski ruled out of the game with a knee injury he sustained on Saturday night against BYU. While the USF backcourt gets the headlines, Massalski is an integral part of everything that USF does and they simply had no shot at keeping pace with the Zags without him. It should not have been a surprise to anyone that Gonzaga posted 52 points in the paint in this game.
  3. Anton Watson had a pretty rough month of February, and desperately needs to get back on track. To that end, it was encouraging to see him score in his first minute of action and have a positive game from there. He lost some touch and composure around the rim over the last few weeks, which had to negatively affect his confidence. This type of game is exactly what was needed to start rebuilding his rhythm and hopefully yields the Watson we saw in December and January.
  4. The Khalil Shabazz and Watson tangle late in the first half that resulted in a double technical was created because college refs can’t help but call completely absurd charge calls. I hate the play because of how dumb it is to try and pick up a charge on a guy running down the floor without the ball—that’s not basketball—but Shabazz certainly saw a ref call a charge on it sometime this season and decided to give it a go right there. It’s cheap and shouldn’t be rewarded. Watson was in the wrong for standing over him longer than he needed to, and then Todd Golden was really over the top bolting onto the floor and shoving Shabazz away before he made a bad decision, though I get he didn’t want him suspended before their first NCAA Tournament game in ages. All of that happened because college refs have never seen a charge they didn’t want to call.
  5. I’m not really sure what happened to Bouyea’s game in this one—maybe it was the absence of Massalski—but that was a tough scene (1-10 FG, 0-6 3PT, 2 ast, 2 TO). Good thing the Dons will be getting another game after this one, because that would be a very unfortunate way to end your collegiate career.
  6. The touch that Nembhard was putting on so many of his passes in this game had me feeling a certain way. Just a phenomenal collection of assists. Put his highlights from this game on a point guard instructional video.
  7. I need the Chet Holmgren attitude and assertiveness we saw in this game for the NCAA Tournament run. When he plays like this the Zags are unbeatable. (Also, make him your press breaker).
  8. USF did a miserable job of getting back on defense whether it was a transition opportunity or a made basket. That’s equivalent to putting yourself on the express lane to a beatdown from this Gonzaga squad.
  9. Perhaps I am a little traumatized coming off the SMC loss and specifically the errant passing and absurd turnovers we saw in that game, but the sloppy stretch Gonzaga produced early in the second half featured a lot of those same mistakes rear their head again. Some lazy passes seemingly thrown without any intent allowed USF to generate turnovers and breathe life into their evening. The Zags were never at risk of losing, but it was simply annoying to see the same unforced errors. This team is too good not to be held to the highest of standards, and they must take better care of the ball. Mistakes are lethal this time of year.
  10. Give the Dons credit for not going quietly into the good night. There were a couple of times in this game where it looked like Gonzaga was going to make it a 40-point blowout, but USF capitalized every the Zags tried to get into cruise control. It may have been maddening to watch as a Gonzaga fan, but there’s a reason why USF is (probably) going dancing.