WCC Game 9: @ Gonzaga

Tip-off: 8pm, McCarthey Athletic Center
TV: CBSSportsNet
Line: Torvik- Zags -11, 82% win probability; Gonzaga- 94% win prob, no line yet.

18-4 overall, 7-1 in the WCC. GU’s currently ranked 14th on the NET rankings and 24th on Torvik.
Starters and 6th Man:

  • 6-10 post Drew Timme (21.4pts, 7.5rebs, 3.4assists)
  • 6-8 forward Anton Watson (10.5pts, 5.7rebs, 1.8 steals)
  • 6-7 wing Julian Strawther (14pts, 7rebs, 44% from 3; coming off a 40pt night vs. Portland)
  • 6-3 guard Rasir Bolton (10.5pts, 39% from 3)
  • 6-2 pt guard Nolan Hickman (8.3pts, 3.5assists, 35% from 3)
  • 6th man: 6-4 wing Malachi Smith (8.5pts, 3.4rebs, 55% from 3)
    Other rotation guys: 6-4 guard Hunter Sallis is athletic and a high level defender. 6-10 forward Ben Gregg backs up the 4 and 5 spots.

From Torvik, GU is ranked 7th on offense but just 116th on defense.
They rebound well defensively, ranked 45th but they are well below average in effective FG% defense and block shots.

GU has shown that they are vulnerable; beyond the loss to LMU they also have the near losses on the road to USF, the Broncos and BYU. If the Broncos are going to beat GU in Spokane, now is the time to do it.

For the Broncos…first, we need to get the defense in order, we’ve been ineffective and disorganized on D the past two games with some missed assignments and some clear miscommunication on screens, switches, etc. As usual, GU is talented offensively and they will take advantage of poor defensive execution.
In our 1st GU game, we frequently doubled Timme and forced him to give the ball up; hopefully we do the same in this game.
The Broncos need to do the little things well…take of care basketball and make our FT’s. Will also need to make our fair share of 3’s.
And finally, Timme is a very mediocre FT shooter at 59%; might be a good game to play Holt and Tilly plenty and instruct them to be physical and not worry about fouls…sending Timme to the foul line is better then letting him get off high % shots.

Prediction: Broncos fight valiantly but fall 81-76.

Finally, regardless of the outcome of the GU game, hopefully the Broncos can regroup, focus and prevail in the winnable game Saturday @ USF. Fortunately, USF plays SMC on Thursday so they’re dealing with a similar scenario as the Broncos, facing us on the heals of challenging Thurs. game.


Current line: Zags -13.5

Predicting the exact same final score as the first meeting is a bold one, 92bronc!

if we play defense (or should I say, if we don’t play defense) like we did against Pacific, then we’ll lose this one by 25-30.

but I am hopeful that this is a bounce back game:

Zags 77 - SCU 72

Attending tonight’s game.
Attended last season’s game which was competitive and 2021 (no fans) was competitive as well.
Hoping the 40-50pt+ blowouts to GU from the first 4 seasons of the Sendek era are behind us.

SCU (recent) loss history @ Gonzaga

2022: 115-83
2021: 89-75
2020: 104-54
2019: 91-48
2018: 75-60
2017: 90-55
2016: 84-67


Some defense would be nice. At this rate we will give up 120. Nice travel by Timme covered by. Foul call on us. Looks like a long night.


Sendek’s offense is ass backwards… starts the set with the ball in guys hands who have no business touching the ball more than 5 ft from the rim. 20 ft from the rim the bigs are horrific. It’s like Sendek is trying to sabatoge the offense.

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Sadly, that was our home score last year with GU. I think we lost by 12 or so up there.

Hey, I am FINE with Cam attacking the basket downhill from top and drawing the fouls.
Tilly and Cam were doing a GREAT JOB on the boards and NOW he puts starting line -up and gap is widened.

I am SO PROUD of Tilly’s progress! I feel he should be in the starting line-up, or 6th man at 3 minutes max.


Huh? It’s called playing through the trailer. Many college teams do it on offense including the one shooting at the other basket tonight if you watched.

Looked like our perimeter defense carried over from the Pacific game. Hard time believing Watson was their leading scorer with the quietest 18pts ever but I guess he was 8-8 from the field. Gotta have the game Saturday. Hoping we get an excellent crowd of alums up there for another nationally televised game.


Something is just NOT working on defense. If our guys continue to miss rotations, why are we forcing a defense our guys seem unable/unwilling to play? Why not come up with a different game plan? I am going to have to watch this and last game on slow motion and see where the timing is OFF.

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I’ll say it again. The door is WIDE open for the firm of Tilly & Tounge. These guys combined for over half of our offensive rebounds and only played 16 minutes each. They are ACTIVE on the glass and in defense. As long as they stay in their kill zones offensively and minimize mistakes, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of these guys.


SCU doesn’t play through the trailer. They actually slow down, setup and bring Bediako or the likes out to 20 ft to start their sets…… just completely foolish. Let’s start the offense by giving the ball to a guy above the key who isn’t a threat to shoot, or drive, and isn’t adept at passing either…: should work out great.

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When Bediako had the ball at the top of the key, the Zag assistant coaches were yelling “dribble, dribble” to their defenders. Great strategy, because when he’s dribbling he’s absolutely zero threat to pass (other than an handoff) and when he picks it up, he’s stranded.

Agree 'Femme on the D. The ball screen coverages seemed mixed, not exclusively switching; guys were sometimes fighting over screens with our big kind of hedging or in drop coverage (ie- when Watson set the screen). Conceptually a better scheme but you still have to execute well which we did not. And when you’re varying coverages it makes communication absolutely critical. Should have been doing it throughout the season so guys are better at it by this point in the season.

And in a likely effort to overplay or guard 3pt shooters tighter, we got beat on some backdoors with no one in position to protect the rim.

We didn’t do so bad on Timme and Bediako’s one bright spot is he did a decent job on several occasions of just walling up on Timme and forced him to take a wild or difficult shot. Tilly did the same a few times. We doubled Timme some, but on a couple occasions we doubled off the wrong guy…ie- Justice, left Strawther at the 3pt line to double Timme in the post…predictably, Timme kicked out and Strawther sank the 3…probably don’t want to double off their best 3pt threat and the guy coming off a 40pt scoring night.

The offensive approach would be fine if the bigs were legitimate perimeter threats…Bediako and Holt def aren’t, Braun and Tongue have shown some ability to make the 3 but are relatively low % so the D doesn’t respect it.

Related note…Sendek has yet to recruit a big who is a reliable 3pt threat…Caruso briefly showed that ability the later part of his junior year but then of course left early. Sendek was probably hoping Vrankic would develop but he never appreciably improved from 3 (career 30%, 33% as a 5th yr senior on modest attempts). The best 3pt shooting from a big under Sendek was Nate Kratch but he was a KK holdover (Nate’s senior yr: 42%, on 3.5 attempts / game).

Changing gears…we’re 4-5 at the moment, w/ 3 straight losses and a leaky defense with a key game tomorrow. NIT hopes may hinge on tomorrow’s outcome.
On the bright side…7 WCC games left and we are done playing GU and SMC; toughest games the rest of the way are @BYU, tomorrow @USF and vs. LMU next Saturday. A win over USF Saturday could right the ship and be a catalyst to finish the remaining 7 games strong. Going 5-2 or maybe 6-1 in the rest of the way is still plausible resulting in a 9-7 or 10-6 finish and a decent chance for 3rd or 4th.


Seen from 30,000 feet, the Pacific result is the only real aberration. The wins over USF and BYU so far are quite important. It would surprise me if SCU hasn’t had the first or second most difficult conference schedule to this point, so some of the standings are noise at this moment with some reversion to come.

That said, I would sincerely try starting Tilly or Tongue over Bediako for a game or two. I have been quite impressed by JB’s defense in the past and think that he has a few offensive tools that should be good for 8-10 points per game. But he has looked like a ghost of his former self for the past 3-4 games. I don’t know if Sendek is hoping that he will get his grove back (a la Justice in the first 5-6 games of the season). Sendek is at least starting to distribute the minutes a little more evenly between the bigs. But Tilly and Tongue have shown much more upside of late, and I’d rather have their effort rewarded than keep static. Even when Justice was missing every shot, he found other ways to contribute. JB isn’t pulling down boards or doing much rim protection.

I’d pull JB for a while and see what the others can do with 20+ minutes per game. I have hope that Bediako will find it again, but I’d rather he build his way back by demonstrating it on the court rather than have him as a presumptive starter with a guaranteed 25 min or so.


A good coach plays to the strengths of his players. Sendek plays one way and thinks execution will overcome all else. Its tough to see talent go unused.

On starting the sets with a big at the top of the key, at least Cam isn’t afraid to attack the rim (so he at least has some vale there).
Sendek isn’t as detrimental to the teams success as KK was, but he’s not too far removed from that either. It’s tough to watch a talented squad be held back by a coach who is stuck playing the brand of basketball that was successful in the 1980’s.