The Alabama-Arkansas (roll tide) game took a while to end, so I didn’t see much outside of a peek in for the first couple minutes and when ESPN2 finally shifted over the score was already 11-3. Dower was in the game (along with Stockton) and made a quick hook shot to extend the lead. The first few baskets by LMU seemed to be 3 pointers, as the generic formula for a surprise Gonzaga road loss began to take shape. That formula, in case you are unfamiliar, is simple. The home team has an easy pattern to follow: let the Zags push out to a quick lead while you look terrible and out of sorts, shoot threes constantly and watch several of them fall in regardless of range or defense, and, most importantly, pray that Gonzaga doesn’t show up.
Unfortunately, Gonzaga got the memo and absolutely dominated from the opening tip. The depth of this team was on display all night as we played aggressive on both ends of the floor. I considered doing a “running diary” type recap but that will have to wait for a different game. I honestly had trouble focusing when the internet had SO MANY cat pictures for me look through. I decided to do this recap in bullet form and just jot down some of my impressions as the game went on. Give ‘em a look!
|Olynyk flies through the air with the greatest of ease. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)|
Random stuff I noticed and enjoyed or maybe didn't like so much:
- Bell had 4 threes out of the gate (I think he finished with 5). It’s great to see his offense clicking (he even drove into the lane a couple times!). However, it might have come at the expense of his defense in the first 8 minutes because…
- Anthony Ireland toyed with him early on. He was pumped and impressive. Over time we corralled him a little better, but he looked shifty and explosive.
- Dower is playing well. He had a sloppy pass or two but was more aggressive on offense and looked for his shot while fighting for rebounds. LMU is basically a glorified scrimmage as far as intensity goes, but I like it.
- KO was great as always, filling it up from the paint and tossing in a three pointer for some variety. Does anyone else think his little euro-step drive into the lane thing is a travel? I’m not complaining, Shaq basically traveled every play and he’s a hall of famer, I just saw a couple of his moves and thought “he’ll get called on that if he isn’t careful.”
- Barham drew a crafty foul at the end of the shot clock early on (when LMU was still threatening). It was a Kobe-style heady play: pump fake then lean into a flying defender. He had a couple threes as well and was a positive part of the offense.
- Dranginis was decent as well, though I think Barham got the better of him in the “6-5 to 6-7 white guys who could potentially play the 3” contest.
- 46-18 at halftime! Everyone seemed to score and we were unselfish to the point of absurdity. We showed some of that killer instinct we will need in the tourney.
- They showed Gary Payton (show some love to the glove!) and Mitch Kupchak on the sidelines, pointing out that Kupchak and other scouts were there. I was a little saddened at the thought of another Zag ending up on the Lakers. If they had KO or Harris alongside Sacre and Stevie Nash… well, I would have to start liking them. And I don’t want to do that.
- At halftime, they showed Butler losing to St. Louis and Illinois losing to Michigan State. It’s funny, because I want Illinois to win to help our RPI, but I kind of want Butler to lose all the time even though I enjoyed them as recently as one month ago. That’s what happens when you lose a game on… questionable terms. Also, I rewrote the previous sentence 7 times to avoid inappropriate language.
- I wish Guy Landry Edi would decide what type of player he is going to be. Is he going to be an aggressive lock-down defender who rebounds above the rim? Great, do that. Is he going to be a slasher who finishes fast breaks and knifes through a zone defense? Sure, go for it. Is he going to develop a 3 point shot or a post-game to deploy against undersized threes? The post is crowded but it certainly can’t hurt. As it is, he hasn’t grown into the potential that we all saw last year. If he had developed a little more (into a solid starting player) we’d be unstoppable. Don’t look up any Manny Arop or Kyle Wiltjer highlights. Trust me.
- Karnowski was largely unimpressive. These are the games he should absolutely dominate due to his size and strength. Instead, he turned the ball over and rarely worked to gain position inside (though he did finish a wide open layup or two). When he got position, he was passive and let smaller players push him around. If he wants to improve he’ll have to watch tape of players like Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph… they work hard in the post early in the possession and they can finish with multiple moves. Also he airballed a free throw.