Happy Thursday to you, Followers. Hope you're having a great week.
Last night, yours truly stayed up way too late (East Coast Time) in order to watch the Cougs.
And while the alarm clock was NOT kind this morning, in the end, I was sure glad that I did (although I was dismayed to turn on the TV this morning to see the game replayed on MSG+),
Now for some quick takes on the Cougs' 81-59 shellacking of the Zags at Beasley:
Followers, much has been made about Klay Thompson's inconsistency playing in big games. Well, last night Klay made a strong case this year is going to be a break out year for him. And, as was noted at the end of the telecast last night, Klay put in an All-American type performance by dominating the Zags on both the ends of the floor.
And with that in mind, I encourage you to participate in the following cheer as the season moves forward:
"Let's go--(STOMP STOMP)--NBA Lockout (STOMP STOMP). Let's go--(STOMP STOMP)--NBA Lockout!"
Other notes from the game:
1) Kenny B bringing the D.
At the start of the year, I advanced some questions regarding Kenny B's performance as Head Coach. Well, after the past two games, Bone has offered a solid rebut to all of his critiques. Not only are his defensive schemes working, his players are executing on the defensive end to near perfection--especially given our size limitations. What's more, Bone's decision to not start Casto last night was brilliant. While I think that we can expect Casto to start against teams like Arizona, a bench rotation that includes Casto, Simon, and Aden represents A HUGE injection inside the 15 minute mark. Moreover, the fact that Casto still had four personals shows that establishing a starting rotation that allows others to generate a rhythm early in the game--like Motum--may represent a huge ingredient for success down the road.
2) Simon Says: "Simon says, give me the rock!"
After the Cougs blew a 19 point first half lead to lead the Zags by six at intermission, I found myself saying the following (to myself): We sure have a lot of scorers, but what we really need are a couple more shooters.
For some of you, such a distinction may not make a whole lot of sense. But when you look at guys like Moore, Aden, and Klay, you see guys that have the capability to score 20+ points a night. At the same time, all of those guys generally need to put up 15-20 shots in order to "catch fire" and reach those numbers. Moreover, because all of those guys are perimeter players, most of those points are dependent upon shooting from the outside. So, in the event that those guys are off--we give up a LOT of long rebounds. And because the number of shots available to each of those guys is limited, its often hard for ALL of the them to be "on" at the same time. The result: when we depend on our "scorers", we're vulnerable to the type of droughts that we saw last night--including the lack of a field goal for the last 6 minutes of the first half.
But in the second half, Simon had a quick break through. And while he "only" shot 50% last night, he doesn't need a lot of looks and touches to knock down perimeter shots. But when he does, the floor opens up for everyone.
And so, as the Zags found some success near the end of the half jumping our pick and pops, Simon's presence (once he started hitting) helped to spread the floor such that the lanes were much more open for the types of drive and dish opportunities that make us LETHAL.
(And Abe's 3 at the start of the second half was also instrumental in that regard).
3. The Great Offensive Capers
While Marcus Capers has been BRILLIANT on the defensive end and mettlesome around the offensive glass, his offensive production is still slim and none. And that isn't going to change. That said, Marcus showed a lot of improvement leading the break last night in transition. My take: If Marcus can get better at attacking the rim for himself off of the break, our transition offense is going to be even better. So, take it to the rack a few times Marcus and try to dunk on someone. When you do, the wings are going to be even more open for Klay, Simon, and Aden to drill threes in transition.
4. Here comes the Zone.
Given our ability to shoot from the outside, one would think that teams would be reluctant to hit us with a zone defense. But, when you see how potent we are off the dribble, you have to wonder about whether or not we're going to see a steady diet of zones sometime in the near future. And, as I noted at the beginning of the year, we were awful against extended zone defenses last year. But, as we look forward to the start of Pac-10 play (@the LA schools in three weeks), you can bet that teams are going to start throwing a lot of different looks our way. How we respond will say a lot about how far this team can and will go.
5. We need one more.
Those of you who watched the game last night know that this is the worst Gonzaga team we have seen for quite some time. That said, the beating that we put on them was noteworthy, and it WILL matter to the selection committee come March. So, we now have a quality win. In the meantime, our charge is to win our next four games--Texas Pan-Am, Santa Clara (trap game?), Mississippi State, and then Baylor. Win those games-espacially Baylor--and we'll enter the Pac-10 10-2. From there, 11-7 gets us in.
And that's important because, as we saw last night, this team is an NCAA tournament team.
And if this team can stay healthy--and as Moore's wrist improves and Aden gets more comfortable--we could be a really, really tough out.
Enjoy the rest of your week.