Gonzaga did not impress last night in their 77-69 win over Eastern Washington. The reason the Bulldogs were able to win was because of their free throw advantage. Gonzaga shot 40 more free throws than Eastern Washington. GU was 36-51 from the line (71 percent), while EWU was 10-11 (91 percent).
The Eastern Washington Eagles were able to keep up with Gonzaga for most of the game was because they shot 13-26 from three point range before missing their last three attempts from deep to finish the game at 13-29 (45 percent).
If the way Gonzaga plays defense does not change, they are going to have issues. One thing in particular is worrisome, and it happened on multiple occasions.
An EWU big man would set an on ball screen for his guard five feet beyond the three point line. The Gonzaga big man would then hedge for way too long and show hard, meaning that he would guard the ball handler tight until the Gonzaga guard was around the screen and guarding the ball handler again.
The EWU big man would roll to the paint right after the screen. Because the Gonzaga big man was out five feet beyond the three point line, he was no where near his man. This meant someone else had to leave his man at the three point line, and go guard the original EWU screener in the paint. The ball handler then found the open man at the three point line for an easy three.
The above sequence happened multiple times. There is no reason for a big man to hedge for that long. It is ok to give a player a small amount of room that far beyond the line. It is not ok to force your teammate to decide between leaving an open player in the paint or at the three point line.
1) Elias Harris: Harris was the best player on the court for Gonzaga. He scored 16 points on six of eleven shooting. Harris was the only Bulldog who shot better than 50 percent from the floor. He also had eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists, and zero turnovers. Very good game from Harris. A-
2) Rob Sacre: Sacre was a close second, as he shot four of nine from the floor and 14 of 18 from the line to score 22 points. He also had ten rebounds, a block, and an assist.
However, he had two turnovers, and needs to find a way to convert more of his attempts. Sacre should have been able to finish some of the shots he was fouled on with his height and strength, as he was so close to the rim. A-
3) Kevin Pangos: GU fans have to be excited about the way Pangos played in his first game. He scored 11 points on two of four shooting from the floor, one of three from deep, and six of six from the line. Pangos had just one turnover in his 27 minutes, and also contributed four rebounds and an assist. B+
Marquise Carter: Carter's final stat line of seventeen points, five rebounds, five steals, and four assists looks great. However, he shot just two of eleven from the floor and needed 18 free throw attempts to get to 17 points, as he made just 12 of his shots from the stripe. Carter also turned the ball over five times. B-
Mike Hart: Hart played 29 minutes, and it should have a few GU fans scratching their heads. He had nine rebounds and four points, but shot the ball seven times and made it only twice. Hart also missed both of his free throw attempts and turned the ball over three times. C
David Stockton: Stockton didn't do anything too negative. He missed just two shots and had only one turnover. However, he didn't make any shots either. Stockton had two assists and one steal in his 19 minutes. C+
Gary Bell: Bell shot two of four for four points in just 14 minutes of action. He also had a rebound and an assist. Not shabby. But, Bell turned the ball over a whopping five times. Tough night for the freshman. C-
Sam Dower: Dower was largely a non factor. He attempted just three shots in 15 minutes of play, converting on one. He had three rebounds and a block. Dower is usually expected to provide offense, so his lack of shots is perplexing. C
Surprisingly the 'Hoff and Ryan Spangler were no shows.
Now, for some opinion:
Carter will cut down on the turnovers, but he isn't a point guard. Either Stockton or Pangos needs to be out there all times.
Gary Bell just needs more minutes to get into a rhythm and get his confidence up. He lacks the swagger that Pangos has. Pangos is going to be really good, really soon.
Hart should not be playing so much. Especially if he is going to miss so many shots. It was surprising that the Hoff did not get any playing time with Hart struggling on the offensive end.
Dower will get his offense going in the future. Harris and Sacre were easily the best players on the court for GU, so they did not come out much, hence the lack of minutes for Dower.