Read on for more, as well as the answer to today's pop quiz: Kevin Pangos leads GU in assists. Who is second?
Back in New York in November, when Kyle Wiltjer was busy pouring in 32 points against Georgia, one leather-lunged fan inside Madison Square Garden sitting roughly 10 feet behind me gave Wiltjer the business from opening tip to final buzzer.
Every shot Wiltjer netted was greeted with: “You ever going to pass Wiltjer?,” or “Pass it for once," usually accompanied with some colorful language.
Too bad that boisterous fan wasn’t at the McCarthey Athletic Center last night.
- A), It would have livened up an otherwise quiet building, and
- B), He would have witnessed a handful of clever Wiltjer passes that led to Gonzaga points.
While it’s true Wiltjer leads GU in FG attempts by a wide margin (185, the next closest is Karnowski’s 125), he also has more assists than Karnowski (24 to 22), though the latter is rightfully receiving heaps of praise for his passing out of double teams.
“He’s doing a good job of moving it,” coach Mark Few said. “He can still grow a little bit there but he’s finding it. That was a game where you had to be tough to get to your move, they were banging and covering down. Shem is doing an incredible job of that, being slow an deliberate, and Kyle is doing that.”
Wiltjer’s first job, obviously, is to score, and he’s good at it, but he’s also a willing passer. His drive and dish to Domas Sabonis that led to a three-point play was punctuated with a fist pump.
“Their defense was always sending two guys so I was trying to make the right pass,” Wiltjer said. “When they’re trapping, a lot of times the weak side is open.”
Which is actually what happened on a second-half play when USF doubled Wiltjer, who fired a pass to Silas Melson for an open 3-pointer.
STATS OF NOTE
--87 seems to be a magic number for GU, which has hit that total in three of its four WCC wins. That’s not far from GU’s 82.9 season average.
--Pangos has 80 assists and just 22 turnovers. Three Zags – Sabonis, Wiltjer and Karnowski – have more turnovers than the point guard.
--Four Zags had at least three assists vs. USF.
--Karnowski’s FT percentage has steadily improved. He hit 2 of 2 last night and he’s at 53 percent for the season. He’s made at least 50 percent in every game since St. John’s (there were a couple games he didn’t have any attempts).
--USF utilized its bench. Ten Dons played well before the end of the first half. Fifteen played by the final buzzer.
Sabonis, on putting the game out of reach: “It makes it easy, everyone gets to play, it’s better for the team. Every time we’re up by 10, we’re like let’s make it 20.”
Pangos, on the atmosphere minus GU students: “As a senior, I’m kind of used to it but the crowd was still good and it was still full.”
Wiltjer, on solving USF’s trapping defenses: “I think in the first half we were kind of testing it out. In the second half, we blew it out because we moved the ball around and got more comfortable with it and we did make them pay.”
QUIZ ANSWER: Wesley, with 40