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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga trying to nail down boards

Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski controls the boards against Akron on Dec. 10, 2016, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski controls the boards against Akron on Dec. 10, 2016, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

There are two ways to look at this:

Option 1). Gonzaga is giving up a lot of offensive rebounds. Option 2). There are a lot of offensive rebounds for opponents to chase.

The rebounding numbers haven’t been pretty in Gonzaga’s last three games, but they also don’t tell the whole story. Akron grabbed 20 offensive boards, Washington 29 and Arizona 16. Akron outscored the Zags 18-2 in second-chance points, Washington 22-9 and Arizona 11-5.

On the other hand …

Akron missed 44 shots and made only 26.7 percent from the field. Washington clanked 55 field-goal attempts and shot 30.4 percent. Arizona had 35 misfires and finished at 38.6 percent.

Still, the number of offensive rebounds collected by opponents is too high, coach Mark Few said.

“You think it might be an anomaly or something but that’s three (games) in a row now,” said Few, while also acknowledging the influence of Option 2. “We need to buckle down. We need to get better at that.

“We’re playing great first-shot defense so we have to reward ourselves by getting the rebound.”

Akron scored just 43 points and Arizona managed 62. Washington had 22 points in the first half, 49 in the second half when the outcome had been decided.

Florida and Iowa State did some damage against GU on the offensive glass, the Gators with an 18-9 edge in second-chance points, the Cyclones just 15-14.

Gonzaga seemed to be in good rebounding position on numerous occasions against Akron on Saturday but fumbled the ball away.

“It’s collective, man,” Few said. “Sometimes we’re not in position, get shoved in the back and give it up. Sometimes the ball falls to us and we don’t secure it. We were having a lot of security issues.”

Gonzaga ranks 27th nationally in total rebounds per game and 25th in defensive rebounds per game. The Zags are 108th in rebounding margin (plus 3.6).

“We just have to figure out this rebounding thing and we should be all right,” point guard Josh Perkins said.

Karnowski pools resources

Przemek Karnowski’s health was one of Gonzaga’s biggest question marks entering the season but he has been outstanding so far.

The senior center, returning from back surgery, is averaging 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, two assists and just over one block in 21 minutes per game. He played a season-high 25 minutes against Quinnipiac and Arizona.

Gonzaga’s just concluded stretch of seven games in 17 days “got me tired,” Karnowski said, but he’s pleased with how his body has held up through the first 10 games.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra conditioning in the pool trying to decompress all my joints in my back. It’s been working for me.”

Numbers game

Gonzaga’s individual balance has been well chronicled. It’s also reflected in team stats.

Gonzaga is 36th in scoring offense (82.7 ppg) and 37th in scoring defense (63.1) in the latest NCAA stats.

GU checks in at No. 12 in field-goal percentage defense (36.7) and No. 8 in 3-point percentage defense (26.3). The Zags are 43rd in field-goal percentage (48.3) and 75th in 3-point percentage (38.2).

Zags stay at No. 8

Gonzaga remained No. 8 in both major polls.

The Zags handled Washington and Akron last week to improve to 10-0. They’ve been No. 8 in the last two AP and USA Today polls.

There was no change in the AP top 11 teams. Villanova, one of seven remaining unbeatens, is No. 1, followed by UCLA, Kansas, Baylor and Duke.

Villanova, UCLA and Kansas are the top three in USA Today’s rankings, followed by Duke and Baylor.

Gonzaga beat Florida and Iowa State on its way to the AdvoCare Invitational title in Orlando. The Gators and Cyclones dropped out of the latest rankings.

Saint Mary’s, which suffered its first loss to Texas-Arlington, slipped from 12 to 20.

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