Day after South Dakota
Good morning, back with my day-after South Dakota post. So far so good for the Zags, who trounced USD 96-58, even with a few hiccups. The links: S-R game story, A.P. gamer, Colin Mulvany photos and a recap in the Argus Leader with a byline you might recognize.
Now GU heads to Orlando (technically Lake Buena Vista) and the Old Spice Classic for a date against Clemson. Tough matchup for the Zags and PGA golfer/Clemson grad/Gonzaga fan Kyle Stanley!
—With Kelly Olynyk coming off his three-game suspension, I asked if he was ready for an interview shortly after the South Dakota game. He declined, saying he would probably be open to questions following Thursday’s game.
—Gonzaga had little trouble with the Coyotes, but the visitors kept it somewhat interesting by making just enough 3s (10). The Zags made it somewhat interesting by taking quick (albeit usually open) shots and turning the ball over seven times in the first nine minutes.
It was after Jordan Boots and Brandos Bos missed open 3s late in the first half that Mark Few called a timeout to remind his players, in particular Gary Bell Jr., that the scouting report emphasized USD’s perimeter shooters and a Coyotes’ offense built around the 3. The outcome wasn’t in doubt, but Few doesn’t want to see bad habits develop with the most difficult portion of the schedule coming over the next five weeks (three games at Old Spice, Washington State, Illinois, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State).
“The message was, ‘Don’t settle.’ He wants perfection,” said forward Guy Landry Edi. “We gave up some open looks and he wasn’t happy about it. He knows we need to be perfect if we want to make a run. He just reminded us to not let down and keep focusing on the scouting report.”
To be clear, Bell is one of the WCC’s best defenders and he’s clearly one of Few’s favorites. The coach has said several times that he rarely has to worry about Bell on the court or off. And Bell had another well-rounded performance with 16 points and six rebounds.
The same goes for Mike Hart, who hit another 3 (it’s early but he’s 3 of 4 from distance, he was 3 of 19 last season). Hart took at least two charges, had five points, three assists and chased down nine boards in 15 minutes.
Asked if he ever has to worry about effort with Hart, Few said: “No, or (with) Bell. It’s inspiring to see their two approaches to the defensive end, getting through every screen and rotating. Mike is just amazing with his off-ball defense. If somebody has a letdown or let’s a guy blow by them, it seems like Mike is there to rotate over and take a charge. He was hustling on an offensive rebound when we were up 30.”
—It was a tad quiet in the Kennel with the student section roughly two-thirds full. More seats opened up after some students and fans in other sections exited at halftime.
“It was a little different because they’re so good about being here for every game,” Hart said. “And they were still rocking, maybe not quite at the level of (West Virginia) earlier in the week. They’re always such great supporters. If you don’t see them one night, you know they’ll be there the next.”
—The most impressive thing about Elias Harris grabbing 18 rebounds was that he did it in just 25 minutes. Few mentioned in the post game that Harris should be judged by his rebounds-per-minute. Harris has only played 70 minutes in three games (23.3 per game).
“He was trying to get every one out there,” Few said. “If we left him out there a little longer, he could have had 20-plus rebounds very easily. He got some man-sized rebounds.”
STATS OF NOTE
—In 70 minutes of playing time, Kevin Pangos has 15 assists and three turnovers. He had six assists and one turnover against USD.
—Przemek Karnowski made 9 of 10 field-goal attempts. He’s 22 of 30 (73.3 percent) for the season.
—Gonzaga is shooting 54 percent from the field, 44 percent on 3-pointers, and has limited opponents to 36.6 percent FG shooting.
—The Zags continue to struggle at the FT line (44 of 81, 54.3 percent). PK is 4 of 13. Pangos is 5 of 6 (83.3 percent), the lone Bulldog above 67 percent.
—David Stockton had six steals against the Coyotes. He has a team-high 11 in 69 minutes this season.
Edi on Old Spice: “It’s going to be tough, way different. We have to be mentally prepared for the games and create our own energy, probably even more so than we did today (vs. South Dakota).”
Few on Karnowski: “Shem’s getting better every day. He’s engaging guys in there and using his size. He had two or three tough, hard-nosed moves against guys, I know they weren’t very big, but they were banging and pushing around a little bit.”
Few on USD: “They can be a frustrating team to play. They run an interesting kind of dribble weave, handoffs, looking to shoot 3s and they have some accomplished 3-point guys. If you give them an inch of daylight they can make them. We had a couple more lapses than we had in the first two counters, but by and large we defended them pretty good. We obviously rebounded great and got our transition game going.”