Zig Zag Weekly Report for November 15, 2012: Gonzaga's Dominating First Week

Matthew McKinneyContributor INovember 14, 2012

Freshman Przemek Karnowski (24) shoots a jumper in win over Southern Utah
Freshman Przemek Karnowski (24) shoots a jumper in win over Southern UtahJames Snook-US PRESSWIRE

Welcome to the first Zig Zag Weekly Report for the 2012-2013 season.  Here we will take a in-depth look at the ups and downs from the past week while looking ahead to next week's match-ups for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

For Head Coach Mark Few and all you Zag-Nuts, i.e. Gonzaga fans, the Bulldogs gave one of the most dominating performances to begin a season in recent memory with their crushing home wins over Southern Utah and West Virginia by a combined 72 points.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but one thing that stuck out in both victories was the Zags' tenacious defense that gave them such lopsided wins.  Even though Southern Utah shot 49.1% from the field, Gonzaga forced 28 turnovers.  The Thunderbirds finished with more turnovers than field goals made (28-27). 

During the West Virginia game, the Mountaineers shot a horrendous 27.3% from the field to go along with 18 turnovers.  So far in two games, the Bulldogs are winning the turnover battle at +25.  With a rate like that you can easily expect the Zags to rack up a lot of wins this year.

Another impressive opening week feat was their balanced, offensive attack.  In both games at least five Gonzaga players scored in double digits, and so far this season six players are averaging 10+ per game.

One of those players include Freshman Przemek Karnowski, who met his expectations by scoring 22 points in the opener and shooting an impressive 65% from the field this season.  This should be a frequent occurrence as the "Big Pole" has great feet movement and can easily slide deep to the basket to score with his soft touch.  It will be interesting to see if Coach Few will move Karnowski to the starting lineup later in the year and send Sam Dower back to bench where he's thrived during his first two years.

In the WVU game forward Elias Harris, their star senior and potential NBA lottery pick, scored zero points in the first half, yet the Zags still led 45-18 at halftime.  Their depth will force opposing defenses to work non-stop for 40 minutes to slow down the Bulldogs.

But the most glaring problem for the Zags in their opening week has been their free-throw shooting.  Overall, the team is shooting 60.6% from the charity stripe.  Only starting point guard Kevin Pangos, who was named to the Naismith Award Watch list, is shooting above 70%.  This will hurt the Zags in close games when teams begin to expose Karnowski's biggest weakness: the fact this his free throw percentage (22.2%) makes Ben Wallace look like Ray Allen in comparison.  

The Zags have gotten to the foul line a ton, and should continue to do so with the likes of Karnowski and their athletic forwards Guy Landry Edi and Harris.  If Gonzaga can shoot around 70%, then they will make it difficult for any team in the nation to beat them.

As for the upcoming week, the Zags should continue their hot start as they take on Summit League foe the South Dakota Coyotes (0-1) on Sunday, November 18 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  The Coyotes lost their opener to SWAC member Southern University Jaguars 79-83.  

The Zags can exploit South Dakota's poor defense on the perimeter--the Jaguars shot 43.8% (7-16) from three-point line--and continue to get to the free throw line.  But they must contain the Coyotes biggest weapon in center Trevor Gruis, who put together a 23 point, nine rebound performance while shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-12 from the free throw line.

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