Gonzaga attempted to schedule Ohio State in its annual game at KeyArena but the matchup didn’t materialize. Turns out South Alabama of the Sun Belt was a tougher challenge than most expected.
Read on for my day-after post.
--The Zags were outstanding early, leading 22-3 in the first 10-plus minutes. It didn’t last. They were out of sorts offensively, unable to defend 6-7 forward Augustine Rubit and a major rebounding edge dissolved into a 40-40 draw on the glass.
“A win is a win,” Sam Dower Jr. said, “no matter how bad or good we play. We’re going to learn from this. We made a lot of mistakes and there are a lot of things we can build on.”
“We didn’t play good and South Alabama deserves a lot of credit for that,” coach Mark Few said. “They really started going at us and exploiting some of the areas we were struggling in, and they took full advantage. But we hung in there and kept them at arm’s length.”
Of GU’s fast start, Few said, “We made plays on defense, (we were) active. David (Stockton) got his hands on a bunch of balls and we were flying around. We got a little more reactive and passive and they did a good job finding out where they could attack us.”
Rubit dropped 23 of his 35 points in the second half. He was too quick for Gonzaga’s bigs or he simply shot over them. The 6-5 Kyle Dranginis guarded Rubit for a stretch and gave up a couple of post-ups, but Few noted, “I thought Kyle guarded him better than anybody. … That’s a tough guard.”
--Kevin Pangos is battling through a sprained right big toe (he’s also referred to it as turf toe). The injury occurred in practice during a rebounding drill (you’ll recall rebounding was a sore spot when Gonzaga returned Maui) 10-11 days ago.
Pangos watched practice this week to give his toe added healing time. He hasn’t missed a game and he’s been able to make key contributions in the second halves vs. New Mexico State, West Virginia and South Alabama. Pangos has said he’s in a rehab stage between games so he can still take the court. GU is in a lighter portion of the schedule where its only games are Saturdays (vs. South Alabama Dec. 14, vs. Kansas State Dec. 21 and the league opener vs. Santa Clara Dec. 28) before settling into the customary two-games-per-week WCC slate.
Gary Bell Jr., meanwhile, seems to be moving well after suffering a hip pointer against New Mexico State game. He had 15 points and nine rebounds against West Virginia and tallied 20 points last night.
“Kevin hasn’t been practicing and he’s a little out of rhythm,” Few said. “We have to solve that as far as resting him but also giving the poor kid some sort of rhythm.”
Few has been calling timeouts near regularly scheduled media breaks, to “rest guys, especially Kevin and Gary.”
--Dranginis continues his solid play off the bench. He had nine points, four boards and two steals. He didn’t shoot well against WVU but contributed in just about every other facet of the game. He’s grabbed at least four rebounds in Gonzaga’s last six games and he’s also had games of 18 and 12 points, respectively.
“He’s been really good these last couple games for us,” Few said. “Obviously we need to play him more and more. We get hurt on the glass and some of the defensive matchups but it doesn’t look like we’re getting hurt anywhere (near) as bad as with the other guys, so we have to look at that.”
Dranginis has played at least 21 minutes in GU’s last six games. He played 22 last night. His increased playing time has resulted in reduced minutes for Gerard Coleman (6 vs. WVU and 5 vs USA) and Drew Barham (10 vs. WVU and 7 vs. USA).
--David Stockton will remain in Seattle with his family to watch sister, Lindsay, a sophomore at Montana State. Lindsay had nine points in MSU’s 74-63 loss to Seattle U on Saturday afternoon. The Bobcats take on Washington this afternoon.
STATS OF NOTE
--One noticeable impact of Pangos’ toe injury is that his FT attempts have declined, perhaps because he’s not driving to the basket as often. He had 39 attempts in the first seven games. He’s had six in the last three games.
--For the first time this season, Gonzaga had more turnovers (10) than assists (8). It was also GU’s first game with fewer than 12 assists.
--GU’s 27-point second half was its lowest second half by 14 points (41 vs. WSU).
--Stockton (4 of 8) and Dranginis (4 of 5) were the only Zags to make at least half of their shots.
--Gonzaga has had three consecutive sub-50 percent shooting games. The Zags made a season-low 40.6 percent vs. USA.
--Karnowski’s six turnovers make him the team leader in that category with 25.
--GU’s 68 points was its lowest of the season (79 vs. Dayton).
Bell: “We took a couple of bad shots, which led to their 3s and they caught up. We have to play a little better, not force up shots and get good shots, that’s how we’ve always been.”
Few: “We’re 10-1, I think that’s as good as we were last year at this point and probably as good as we’ve ever been at this point.”
Few: “Lost in all this was we had wide open 3s we’ve been making all year and we missed them. That’s where we have to be able to rely on those bigs to deliver when we’re not (hitting 3s) and that wasn’t the case tonight.”