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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Pacific


NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pacific Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, Gonzaga basketball is equal parts exciting and frustrating to watch. There is a wide variance of outcomes that they can produce in any given game. Consistency has been hard to come by this season, and it’s hard to know what team might show up for any given half of basketball.

  1. Coming off the loss to LMU (yes, that really happened...), I was curious to see how the Zags would start this game. This was not the response I was hoping to see.
  2. I exempt Anton Watson from point #1. He brought it, as he usually does. He and Timme essentially carried Gonzaga through this game. This would have been an ugly “L” without those two.
  3. Related to #3, Gonzaga’s backcourt got cooked on the defensive end in this game. Pacific was getting a lot of dribble penetration into the paint. It looked like the guards were wearing
  4. Can we get Brynna Maxwell to play on both basketball teams? The men’s team has lost its shooting touch and she’s the best shooter on campus.
  5. Gonzaga’s offense has not been right in the next 3 weeks, with the Portland game as the sole exception. There have been short stretches of good play (first half against BYU), but for the most part, scoring has felt like a grind since the calendar flipped to 2023. Perhaps the most telltale sign that
  6. Drew, PLEASE make your free throws (4-11) big fella, I beg of you. It’s hard to be critical of someone who scored a career high 38 points and put the team on his back, but the free throw shooting makes Gonzaga very vulnerable. There’s no sugarcoating it. The Zags find themselves in a situation where they have to take their best player off the floor in clear free throw situations as they did tonight, or run the risk of leaving critical points on the table because opposing teams will not think twice about sending Drew to the line.
  7. Pacific led for over 13 minutes in the first half if you were wondering how things are going this week. If you were wondering how many times the Gonzaga backcourt could get cooked in one game, you found out in this one.
  8. Julian Strawther exited the game in the first half in an unplanned substitution and reportedly headed straight the trainer’s table. He played heavy minutes in the second half, and made a pair of buckets but looked to be lacking some explosion. I don’t love that he was playing so much if he was physically compromised in some way, particularly in a tight game, and his status bears monitoring moving forward.
  9. Get the ball to Drew in more advantageous positions on the low block and a lot of good things happen for the offense. Pacific wasn’t doubling him, so the Zags just had to be smart about where they were delivering him the ball. If Timme only needs to make 1 or 2 moves instead of 5 to get to the basket, he’s going to score.
  10. Gonzaga is going to have a very short tournament run if the defense doesn’t improve significantly between now and March. They’re not defending on a string, and there are too many plays with guys massively out of position either on their man or on the help. Communication needs to happen, and attention to detail needs to drastically improve (for example, in what world do you leave a 57% 3PT shooter wide open). Giving up 47 first-half points to the #176 offense on KenPom, really? There’s no reason for the defense to be this poor, and if we’re being honest, these shouldn’t be issues that we’re seeing in Game 21. I know the coaching staff doesn’t ignore this in practice, so it’s time for the players to take some ownership here. They have to be all in on defending better or they are going to look back on this season with a lot of regrets.