I was wrong about Gonzaga’s ability to defend in this one.
After the first five games, I really thought the Zags were a better on-ball defensive team than they’ve been in the past few years.
But Butler is making them look slow with their ball movement and their dribble penetration. It is also showing an ability to free up its shooters, who are rarely missing tonight. Remember, this is the same team that hit just 6 of 30 3-point shots against a Tennessee team that seemed disinterested in defense (Butler is 9 of 22 at the half, which it leads 43-29).
The other thing that’s obvious is yes, Butler’s guys have played a lot of football – as I mistakenly wrote earlier – and they took the contact lessons from that sport to the Madison Square Garden floor.
Steve Lavin keeps saying they play old-school basketball. If there was this much contact in a 1960s or 1970s game, every member of the Butler team would have fouled out – in the first 5 minutes. Still, you have to give them credit for playing so hard.
For GU to score, they have to move the ball better and not try to win with the bounce. The problem is now they are so far behind, it may be tough for them to run flex to get good looks.
The one positive for GU fans: Butler has some foul trouble. Three inside guys have two fouls. We’ll see if the Zags can take advantage of it.