10 observations on Gonzaga’s victory over Lewis-Clark State

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Two failures through NAIA schools as expected, but in seven more days things will get really serious.

1. I admit, I wasn’t quite on Anton Watson’s train last season. Flashes of brilliance could be followed by minutes of hesitant inactivity. Not this year, the stronger Watson exudes confidence and is actively looking for scoring opportunities to complement his spectacular defense and sniper-like overtaking ban. Watson has minutes in a small ball lineup on the “5” and looks like a beast in color.

2. Speaking of animals in color, Kaden Perry seems like the fourth big one. In a two-minute stretch in the second half, he got a put-back dunk, scored the next possession on a Timmesque post move, the next possession ending in a jump-hook made. Perry’s physicality, toughness and rim protection are too valuable not to give him time.

3. For the second game in a row, the three-point shooting wasn’t just bad, it was ugly. 6 for 21 before making three at the end of the game. Nembhard, Hickman and Bolton were 2 for 11 from deep and some of their misses weren’t even close. Ordinarily, on such a strong and talented team, Dominick Harris would consider a medical red shirt. If he’s a constant three-point hazard on his return, he’ll be sure to have minutes unless his backcourt mates improve dramatically.

4. Tonight we saw Drew Timme get back to shape on his postplay, but I was just as impressed with his improved defense and passing game. He moves and may even jump better. His most valuable improvement may be his 7 for 7 performance from the free throw line. Last season he shot twice as many free throws as Kispert and 70 more than # 2 Suggs. If he can shoot 80% off the line, he will be a nightmare for the end of the game as the opponents try not to smudge him. Another thing, see how well he can seal his defender when a teammate drives to the basket.

5. For the second game in a row, Nolan Hickman led and supported the team in minutes. There was some preseason suspicion that he might red shirt because of the depth. We all know how much GU loves two point guards and it looks like Hickman has become firmly established as part of the rotation.

6. Chet Holmgren is surprisingly tough on postal defense. I watched him lock up the guy he was defending and he didn’t give in an inch. I’m curious to see if a 255 pound UCLA monster will hold him back, but I guess he’s not really easy to shoot at. He just smothered opponents on his blocks tonight.

7. Remember the 16-17 team when Tillie and Collins came into play as a couple and the opposing forecourt got no rest. That was the impression I had tonight when I saw Watson and Strawther entering the game on 1st floor. watchedNS half. After the substitution, the team has probably gotten better. Oh yeah, Hunter Sallis was the next Zag sub to enter the game, followed by Kaden Perry.

8. Speaking of Hunter Sallis, I’m surprised at how well he played when I look at the boxing score. In both exhibition games, he goes “quietly” 5 for 7 out of the field and gets 7 rebounds against Eastern Oregon and 4 tonight. The newcomer, who played almost 40 minutes in two games and only made one turnover, is just as impressive as his performance on the field.

9. I thought I was going to see more three-quarter court press tonight. We’ve seen it quite a lot against east Oregon and I would have expected to be an integral part of the arsenal of this large and athletic Zag team. Especially when Chet Holmgren plays midfield under the Zag basket.

10. Julian Strawther, Julian Strawther, Julian Strawther !!! After killing it at Kraziness and leading the team on goal against Eastern Oregon, he looked like he wasn’t going to be a factor in the first half of today’s game. No, definitely not. In the second half he goes 3 for 5 out of the field, 2 for 3 out of depth and scores 9 points with 2 offensive rebounds in 13 minutes. In two games he shoots 56% from the field and 50% from the bow. He always smiles, is always humble, and says that he does what he does to “honor his late mother” who died of breast cancer at the age of nine. I think I have a new favorite player.


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