10 notes from Gonzaga’s win over Santa Clara

For the second consecutive game, the Gonzaga Bulldogs He was pushed to the brink by an opponent of the WCC. It didn’t go well for many parts of the game. The encouraging thing, however, is that the Zags never lost their cool or doubted their belief that they were going to win the game. This is evidence of leadership in the locker room and trust in each other on this list.

  1. Nolan Hickman, welcome to the show! He didn’t have the start in team play he had hoped for, but he popped in this game when Gonzaga needed him most. He is still learning how to manage the offense and hit the right buttons with the right players at the right time, but he needs to play with confidence at all times and he did in this game. His third step that took the game away in the final minute was a sign of that confidence. He did not show any hesitation at that moment.
  2. Santa Clara’s defensive game plan executed near to perfection. The Broncos turned well, defended solidly with extreme denial of the ball, sent digs to the post and recovered quickly, forcing the Zags to settle for plenty of perimeter shots. Fitness was the name of the game against the Gonzaga offense. I wouldn’t say the Zags shied away from the physical nature of the game, but it certainly hampered the flow of attack.
  3. By contrast, Gonzaga’s defense, especially the ball screen defense, is simply not good enough at the moment. It looked as if Gonzaga was turning a corner on that front in early December, but the defense has fallen dramatically from the holidays and beyond. There seems to be a lot of confusion with rotation and understanding of responsibilities, which is strange at this point in the season.
  4. The Zags need to figure out why they started so slow in both games in the Bay this weekend. You have to give credit to Santa Clara (and USF Thursday night), for their willingness to play, but the Zags need to match that fire since it’s the biggest game of the year for every opponent in the WCC. The Zags were punched in the face in the first ten minutes of the match and had to expend a lot of energy to get out of that hole. They can’t assume they can keep pulling that off.
  5. Still, the Zags deserve respect for their ability to weather the storm and take the best shots out of their opponents. They did not wither and did not lose confidence. Maybe you can question focus, at times, but you certainly can’t question their power.
  6. Santa Clara transfer Branden Podzimski revolutionized the WCC, and he lived up to the billing in his first game against Gonzaga. He is a smooth operator who plays under control, can play all over the ground, and can score from any position. He’s a great addition to the conference and it’s great to see Santa Clara bring a guy like him from Illinois through the transfer gate.
  7. Once again, Ben Gregg’s energy off the bench ignited the Zaggs just when things were looking absolutely dire. Greg gives Gonzaga some much-needed energy when the original players are struggling, and he was a key part of Gonzaga’s 13-0 streak that wiped out a 30-16 deficit midway through the first half. I’ve said this before about Greg, but it bears saying again, once he learns how to harness his aggression, he’ll be able to keep himself out of trouble and play in all situations.
  8. Maybe you have a better plan for basic inbound plays to avoid corner traps? It wasn’t ideal to watch Racer Bolton tied up with jump balls into the corner on consecutive possessions.
  9. In the past few weeks, Julian Strother has produced a much needed level of consistency as Gonzaga’s secondary scorer to help ease the burden on Drew Tim. Third top scorer has rotated between Bolton, Hickman and Watson but Strother must consistently shift to number two behind Timmy for Gonzaga to be successful and he has made it through the opening matches of the Fifa World Cup.
  10. However BYUTheir departure and struggles this season, this weekend’s trip to the Bay Area underscores the belief that the WCC is on the rise. What a fun weekend for Zag Games.

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