Read on for my day-after post.
--Byron Wesley is becoming a dependable option in late-game, need-a-bucket situations.
The USC transfer came through against BYU in the final 65 seconds Saturday. He did the same during the NIT at Madison Square Garden. He did it again Monday when he powered into the lane and made a contested, left-handed layup with 1:41 left, ending Gonzaga’s unsightly 7-minute scoreless stretch. He also hit a pair of free throws with 1:12 remaining.
The 6-foot-5 Wesley can create his own shot, which comes in handy with time on the shot clock dwindling. He’s consistently able to get into the lane and score or draw fouls.
“He’s kind of the one guy down the stretch that guys can rake him, scratch him, tackle him and he’ll still get it to the rim,” coach Mark Few said.
--As I mentioned in the game story, Gonzaga’s defense was outstanding last night. Gary Bell Jr., primarily on Johnny Dee, and Kevin Pangos, primarily on Christopher Anderson, did most of the individual work, but both were quick to credit teammates for closing down lanes and helping when necessary.
Dee was stuck at five points when he slipped away from Kyle Dranginis for an open 3 with 9:37 left. The senior guard perked up, scoring 15 of his 20 points to trigger a USD rally.
“Gary did a great job,” coach Mark Few said. “Kyle made a mental error on Dee, he helped on somebody and that got him going. You can’t do that to a great player like that.”
GU could tailor its defense toward stopping the Toreros senior guards because USD didn’t have the interior options to throw a counterpunch. Wing Duda Sanadze provided a brief spark with seven points in eight first-half minutes, but he was scoreless in eight second-half minutes.
“We need to find somebody that can score on the interior for us,” San Diego coach Bill Grier said. “We need somebody that can get us double figures in there. They did a good job with our ball-screen motion taking away stuff to the basket. With this group, because we’re not great back-to-the basket scorers, we’ve been able to get stuff on the move and they took all that away.”
--Other than the prolonged stretch against Arizona late in regulation and in overtime, I can’t recall Gonzaga having as bad a span offensively as that 7-minute scoreless streak.
Gonzaga bogged down with turnovers but it also missed a number of open shots. On one sequence Bell drove inside and missed and Karnowski missed a follow-up from close range. Pangos and Kyle Wiltjer misfired on open 3s.
“We didn’t stay aggressive and we made some turnovers, dumb plays,” Bell said. “I elbowed Johnny Dee on accident and they two free throws out of that.”
“We had pretty good looks,” Pangos said. “Layups going in and out, jump shots going in and out. I don’t know if we got a little tired. They were being really aggressive on defense but we have to be better than that. We can’t have games like that where we don’t close a team out.”
STATS OF NOTE
--Wiltjer, with three 3s, and Pangos, with 2, were the only Zags to connect from long distance.
--GU won the boards, 42-36. The Zags have outrebounded every opponent this season.
--Wiltjer has led GU in scoring eight times.
--USD had just eight assists and committed 13 turnovers.
--Eight of San Diego’s points came on free throws from GU fouls on three 3-point attempts.
--Former GU walk-on Chris Sarbaugh (G-Prep, NIC) played 24 minutes. He had six points, five rebounds, three turnovers and three steals.
--Former University High standout Brett Bailey played 19 minutes. He finished with five points and four rebounds.
Few: “They were digging down with different coverages, but mostly trying to dig off Wesley. I thought Shem made some nice plays out of it, so did Domas (Sabonis) and Wiltjer.”
Karnowski on dealing with double teams: “We kind of expected that. Me and Domas weren’t focused at the beginning and we lost 3-4 balls, but then we got stronger and hit cutters or passed outside for open looks.”
Few: “It’s a tough trip (BYU and San Diego). Teams don’t get separation on Billy’s team. They make it hard to score.”
Grier on GU: “They’re terrific on the interior. They really post hard and they’re so big and physical. To me, Pangos is the guy that’s made the biggest jump. He had a pretty good injury last year. Chris has always done a good job on him and I thought Kevin messed with Chris tonight. He’s obviously healthy and looks quicker.”