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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Santa Clara


NCAA Basketball: Santa Clara at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Well that’s more like it. Gonzaga came to play in this one, and were rewarded for the effort they put into all aspects of the game. Now they have to carry the positives from this performance into Saturday’s face off against Saint Mary’s.

  1. Gonzaga put together a complete first half (other than a pair of shot clock violations). It was a 20-mintue stretch that was sorely needed out of this team. The execution was excellent at both ends of the floor, and hopefully serves as a new baseline for this team heading into the final third of the season. The second half didn’t quite hit the same heights, but overall the defensive effort was significantly better than it had been at any point in the last month.
  2. Anton Watson drew the assignment on Brandin Podziemski in the early stages of the game, which makes sense as Watson is Gonzaga’s best defender and fortunately has the athleticism to capably guard at all levels of the floor. Podziemski is one of the best scorers in the conference, and with Gonzaga’s backcourt defense in disarray, Watson is the only starter I trust to take that defensive assignment and he did a really nice job on the Broncos’ star.
  3. Speaking of Podziemski, any game where you end up with nacho cheese on your jersey is a quality game, regardless of what the box score says at the end of the night. Hats off to him for making a personal visit into the Kennel Club.
  4. The Zags have been using the floater around the 8-foot area around the rim to great effect in the last two games. That shot has pretty much been conceded by opposing defenses for most of the season as the defense has sunk to take away dump offs to the bigs. It is crucial for Gonzaga to take and make those with regularity to force defenses to step up.
  5. Gonzaga did a great job moving the ball and paired with a hot shooting start, the offense was in full flow in the first half.
  6. Really nice work from Malachi Smith in this one. He was strong on the boards when he had those opportunities and defended well at the point of attack, particularly in his battles with Podziemski. Smith and the rest of the backcourt are still searching for consistency from game to game, but this is what Gonzaga needs out of him in his role as the 6th man.
  7. Timme’s quick recovery block on Podziemski late in the first half showcased some high level agility (seriously!) and awareness from Gonzaga’s big man. A nice little nuanced play that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
  8. Santa Clara’s Carlos Stewart had a great game, but I can’t help but think that he would be an incredible player once he figures out how to change speeds and throttle up and down as necessary during the course of play. Right now he plays at one speed, and while that speed is full speed (if you’re going to play at one speed, that better be the speed) it does hurt him a few times a game.
  9. Drew Timme—Mr. 2000. What else is there to say about Timme? A legend and an icon who has cemented his place among the Gonzaga greats.
  10. Great energy from The Kennel and the Zags in this one. That was the response I was hoping to see in the first home game since the loss to LMU two weeks ago.