Gonzaga Dominates Sacramento State


#13 Gonzaga opened its season with a strong win over Sacramento State by a score of 104-58.  The Zags played well, but there are always improvements that can be made.  One thing that became apparent from this game was that the Zags are for real.  This team is loaded with talent and if it is utilized correctly this team can possibly make it a long was in the tournament.

Player of the game, Kyle Wiltjer stood out.  He had 18 points and was 6-12 from the field.  He was 3-5 from three point land.  Along with leading the team in points, Wiltjer also added three rebounds, two blocks, an assist, and a steal.  Wiltjer’s shooting was impressive and he seems to be the real deal.  As the season goes on I expect him to shoot a higher percentage from the field.  He made a couple nice hook shots from the low block, but he missed some as well.  I’m sure that he will continue to work on that shot.  If he can have a strong post presence that will be a huge advantage from the Zags.  Hopefully Wiltjer can get a few more rebounds next time around.

Nov 14, 2014; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis (11) attempts a free throw against the Sacramento State Hornets during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of low post presence, Gonzaga got a huge bonus from freshman forward, Domantas Sabonis.  Sabonis had 14 points and 8 rebounds.  I was really hoping that he would get a double double in his first game, but I’m sure he’ll have plenty of those in the future.  He was able to have an immediate impact in the paint.  His strength and court awareness is impressive.  It’s hard to believe that Sabonis is only a freshman.  He fits Gonzaga’s system well.

People were curious as to how the guard rotation would work.  The starting guards were who everyone expected them to be: Pangos, Bell, and Wesley.  Pangos had 16 points and was 6-7 from the field.  He also added 3 assists.  Bell had 11 points and 5 assists.  His shooting looked strong as it usually does.  Wesley played with intensity.  His scrappy defense led to 4 steals and multiple fast break opportunities.  He had 12 points with many of them coming on strong drives to the rim.  The first two guards to come off the bench were Josh Perkins and Kyle Dranginis.  Dranginis only played 15 minutes.   He added 9 points and was 3-6 from the field.  Perkins led the team in minutes played with 27.  He had 8 points, 6 assists, and only 1 turnover.  Perkins looked strong.  He is a natural leader and it seems that the Zags are set at the point guard position after Pangos graduates at the end of this season.

The biggest pro that I noticed from this game was unselfish play from everyone.  The team had great ball movement all game and had 24 total assists.  Karnowski had 3 assists and he was able to have some chemistry with Wiltjer.  Karnowski banging down low open the floor for Wiltjer to shoot from outside.  Karnoski, Wiltjer, Bell, Pangos, Wesley, Nunez, Sabonis, Dranginis, and Perkins all had at least one assist.  The team seems to have good chemistry.  They are focused on getting wins as a team rather than being more worried about individual stats.  This is important for any team to go far in the tournament.

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The biggest improvement that the team needs to make is free throw shooting.  As a team, the Zags only shot 68.8% from the charity stripe.  The Zags were drawing fouls left and right, but could not convert as well as they should be able to.  This is something that is not difficult to improve.  There also seemed to be some nerves during this first game of the season.  I’ll be expecting the team to shoot a higher free-throw percentage on Monday against SMU.

Gonzaga play a strong game overall.  This is a team with a high powered offense that could really make a splash in the NCAA this year.