You’ve probably seen those ridiculously early Top 25 polls that come out every year on the day after the NCAA championship game.
Here’s an apt comparison: Making definitive statements from a 15-minute basketball scrimmage after just one week of practice.
Disclaimer duly noted, here are four things that caught our eye at Gonzaga’s Kraziness in the Kennel on Saturday.
1). Perkins aggressive offensively
Junior point guard Josh Perkins hunted his shot throughout the scrimmage. He said in the offseason he needs to be more assertive at the offensive end and he has the coaching staff’s support in that endeavor.
“Just expected to score a little more, which is fine,” said Perkins, who won the 3-point contest. “I could have scored a lot last year but I had a lot of good pieces with Nigel (Wlliams-Goss), Jordan (Mathews), Przemek (Karnowski) and J3 (Johnathan Williams).”
Perkins is a quality 3-point shooter. He’s at 39 percent in his career, not far behind his 43-percent accuracy overall.
Perkins made 3 of 8 field-goal attempts, 1 of 4 beyond the 3-point arc, and finished with seven points. Backcourt mate Silas Melson had the same shooting stats as Perkins. Melson, too, could be asked to carry more of the scoring burden with the departures of Williams-Goss and Mathews.
“Josh has shot it well his whole career here so we’re trying to find more shots for him and get him to focus more on that as opposed to he’s always kind of focused on his play-making,” coach Mark Few said.
2). The kids are alright
Can’t pass up an opportunity to describe the debut of the Zags’ freshmen and plug The Who’s classic tune.
Jesse Wade showed off his smooth shooting stroke with a pair of 3-pointers in the scrimmage. The 6-foot-1 guard has a pretty quick release, so he doesn’t have to be wide open to get his shot off.
Wade and Perkins both hit nine 3-pointers in the opening round of the 3-point contest. In a one-shot playoff, Perkins connected while Wade’s shot rattled in and out. Wade’s shot doesn’t always go in but it usually looks good in mid-air – much like former Zag Kevin Pangos.
Corey Kispert’s perimeter jumpers didn’t fall (0 of 3 on 3s) but he’s regarded as a quality shooter. The 6-foot-6 wing demonstrated surprising leaping ability in the dunk contest.
“Jesse made some shots, that’s what we need him to do,” Few said. “He got the ball to the right guys at the right time. Corey’s going to be fine. He’s ready to go right now, ready to shoot it, ready to compete athletically. I think we’ll be counting on him pretty heavily.”
3). Defining Rui’s role
One of the more interesting storylines this season will be the impact of Rui Hachimura. The acrobatic 6-foot-8 forward has been labeled a breakout player by a few national pundits, but the reality is he has to show he can operate within Gonzaga’s system at both ends of the court in games.
He could start, he could come off the bench, he could play some at the ‘3’, he could play some at the ‘4’.
“We just have to start making sure that all this athleticism and strength and all that, we can translate it into effective, winning basketball,” Few said. “We’re going to try to get him the ball as much as we can out on the wing and in the open floor but a lot of these games come down to grinding it in the half court so you have to be able to function that way. He’s very much a work in progress.”
4). Larsen strong in return
Center Jacob Larsen, who missed last season with a torn ACL, had a nice performance with seven points, four rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes. He struggled at times defending senior forward Johnathan Williams, but many Zag opponents this season should enounter the same problem.
The Zags could play a lot of small ball this season but they have the option of going big if the 6-foot-11 Larsen continues to develop and if Hachimura sees extended minutes at the ‘3.’
“Larsen is a force down low,” Williams said. “He can finish with both hands. He has a mid-range game. He’s going to be a major part of this team this year.”
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