Przemek Karnowski finished with 15 points, nine boards and seven blocks to lead four players in double figures as No. 24 Gonzaga knocked off St. Mary’s 73-51 on Thursday night in the Kennel.
Yes, the Zags won by 22 points.
Yes, they did it without Gary Bell Jr. in the lineup and with Sam Dower doing, quite literally, nothing in the seven minutes that he played.
And no, the game was not as close as the final score would indicate. The Zags were up by 30 at one point, and Gonzaga didn’t allow St. Mary’s to hit a three or notch their first assist until the game was in garbage time.
In a word, this was a beatdown, one that isn’t all that surprising once you consider just how poorly the Gaels played out in Hawaii.
But that’s not what’s intriguing to me.
Louisville transfer Angel Nunez is. He went for 13 points and eight boards in the win and is now averaging 9.0 points and 5.3 boards in just 13.3 minutes in the three games for the Zags. The 6-foot-8, 200 pound forward brings a different dimension to the Gonzaga front court. He’s athletic, he can defend, he can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He may not be Elias Harris, but there aren’t many players in the WCC that can match up with Nunez.
And given the issues that Mark Few has on his front line, continued production from Nunez could make all the difference in the world for Gonzaga.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.