LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The sample size is small, but statistics reinforce that Gonzaga’s defense has been big in the team’s 5-0 start.
Some numbers to chew on. Shooting percentages of GU’s last four opponents: West Virginia, 27.3; South Dakota, 33.9; Clemson, 31; Oklahoma, 32. Three-point shooting percentages: Southern Utah, 23.5; West Virginia, 11.5; South Dakota, 35.7; Clemson, 27.3; Oklahoma 31.3.
GU foes have nearly twice as many turnovers (90) as assists (46).
“We just guard as a unit,” senior forward Elias Harris said following the Zags’ 72-47 rout over Oklahoma on Friday. “Everybody is doing their jobs, everybody is in the gaps.”
The 17th-ranked Bulldogs held Oklahoma and Clemson below 50 points en route to the championship game at the Old Spice Classic where they will face Davidson today. The Wildcats (3-2) pose the toughest challenge yet for Gonzaga’s defense.
Davidson makes 45 percent of its shots, nearly 40 percent of its 3s, 77 percent of its free throws and averages 76 points per game.
“We’ve played two very athletic teams that can present a lot of problems athletically on the glass and with pressure defense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “Now you play a team that still plays really physical but they do some other things that make it tough, and they’re extremely skilled. They spread you out and can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”
Forward De’Mon Brooks is averaging 18.2 points and has attempted 34 free throws in five games. Other options include Southern Conference preseason player of the year Jake Cohen (11 ppg.), guard JP Kuhlman (13.3) and 6-foot-7 guard Chris Czerapowicz (11), whose 3-pointer with 45 seconds left helped Davidson hold off West Virginia in the semis.
Few is justifiably concerned with the Wildcats, but he likes what he’s seen so far from GU’s defense.
“It’s early,” he said, “but this team listens well, really well, and we spent a lot of time on (defense) because I thought we were pretty far along offensively through the summer. It’s coming, hopefully it’ll continue.”