San Diego (11-9, 2-5) at Gonzaga (16-3, 6-1)
Date: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Location: McCarthy Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.
Time: 7:00 PM PST
LiveStats: Espn.com, Cbssports.com, etc.
Last Season: Gonzaga won both matchups, including a down-to-the-wire 65-63 victory over the Toreros at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Could this be a trap game for the Bulldogs?
A matchup against a steadily improving BYU squad looms for Gonzaga, but first they must focus on the San Diego Toreros, who are playing much better as of late.
The Toreros are trending upward in the WCC and have won two of their last four games. San Diego’s last two losses to Pepperdine and San Francisco – two schools that are currently among the top five in the WCC standings – were by a combined six points. The Toreros last two wins came against LMU and Santa Clara
Some quick news
Earlier today, Gonzaga guard Gary Bell Jr. posted this to his personal twitter account:
Nothing official has been announced on the status of Bell’s injury, but it appears that Bell will be available for the Bulldogs against the Toreros.
Whether he will play 30-plus minutes upon returning to the team is unknown. Based on Few’s recent history in handling injuries, more specifically senior forward Sam Dower, Bell will likely come off the bench and play limited minutes. However, a hand injury is handled much differently than a hip injury like Dower suffered, and Bell could very well still be in ideal playing shape despite the injury.
Keys to the Game
Force the ball inside: Of the four players that average double-digit points for the Toreros, only one is a post player (Dennis Kramer). After that, San Diego does not have a frontcourt player that averages more than 5 points.
The Toreros are very much a perimeter oriented team on the offensive end of the floor, and their lack of a post scoring presence has inhibited them all season.
Gonzaga needs to expose this in order to dominate the Toreros in this game. The Gonzaga guards need to keep the Torero guards in front of them and deny any penetration that the Toreros attempt to create. Having Przemek Karnowski down low to block and disrupt shots will add to the equation as well.
Anybody but Pangos: Kevin Pangos is the lynchpin of the Gonzaga offense. When he is defended against to the point where he does not regularly get the ball and is forced to take bad shots, the Gonzaga offense has a tendency to sputter out of control.
In Gonzaga’s three loses this season, Pangos has shot only 40.0 percent from the field and 37.5 percent form beyond the arc. The junior guard is shooting considerably better in wins, with a field goal percentage of .461 and a 3-point percentage of .456.
Some might say this is a mere coincidence, but I call baloney on that inquisition. Pangos is quintessential to the Bulldogs success of the offensive end of the floor, and shutting him down skyrockets San Diego’s chances of pulling off the upset.
Matchup of the Game
These two undersized – Anderson more so than Stockton – point guards have made a name for themselves in the WCC as great distributors. Both would rather give their teammates open looks rather than creating one for themselves.
Look out for this during the game. The two will most likely be defending each other when both are on the court.
Gonzaga has not been playing as well as they usually do, but behind a raucous home crowd the Bulldogs should be able to overcome anything the Toreros throw at them. Gonzaga 73, San Diego 62.