If Monday’s mauling of SMU was any indication of how what Gonzaga is capable of, tonight could get ugly quickly.
A month ago I marked this Wednesday night NIT Season Tipoff opening matchup of Gonzaga vs. St. Joe’s as “Mark Your Calendar” matchup due to their team last season, but it is looking more and more like another snooze button game.
Gonzaga and St. Joe’s will face off for the sixth time since the turn of the century.
- What: No. 11 Gonzaga vs. St. Joe’s
- When: Wednesday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m. (Pacific time)
- Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
- TV: ESPNU
The Bulldogs (2-0) continue to draw praise from all kinds of national media, most notably ESPN’s Jeff Goodman who predicted the Zags to win it all. While expectations cannot exceed that level of loftiness, the game has drawn enough attention for ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi to make the trip and cover the Zags as they take on his alma mater.
The Hawks (1-1) will attempt to rebound after a slow start to the season where they blew a four-point lead with under two minutes remaining to lose to Fairleigh Dickinson 58-57. They responded with a three-point victory over Drexel. After losing a couple team-leaders who graduated from last season’s Atlantic 10 champion and 9-seed team, St. Joe’s are led by six-foot-six-inch forward DeAndre Bembre who is shooting a dismal 35 percent from the field, 25 percent from three and 60 percent from the charity stripe. Averaging 10.5 points through the first two games, his numbers are down across the board from last year.
What to watch for…
1. Ball screens on ball screens on ball screens. The Zags are so effective running an offense predicated on running guards off of ball screens (Ask Larry Brown) until an open shot is presented and the bigs showed last game that committing defensively to the dangerous shooting guards is not an option as Kyle Wiltjer and Angel Nunez really excelled rolling down and flashing for open jumpers or looks at the hoop.
2. Kyle Dranginis logging more clock: Believe it or not, the Zags were actually more efficient with a lineup that included the six-foot-five-inch reserve guard. With a Swiss Army Knife-type skill set, Dranginis can alter the game in many different ways, which is why he fits in so well playing with the starters.
What my crystal ball shows…
A blowout. Last game I expected SMU to be a million times better than they were. Despite a rough game Nic Moore looked of All-American value to me, but EVERYONE else looks like they had either just seen a ghost or been bitten by the feeble bug. There is no mismatch in favor of the Hawks and they are simply outmatched and a dismal (0-2) all time in the Kennel.