It's kind of crazy that this Gonzaga team is 31-1, yet there are some very clear worries heading into the most important time of the year. Despite opening the WCC Tournament with wins over Pacific and Santa Clara, it's clear that this group is missing a bit of mojo. I do think that part of what we are seeing is the rhythm of conference play, as this is the 3rd time these teams have faced Gonzaga and they know the strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else in the country. With that said, some things that have stuck out since the middle of the 1st half against BYU are below. If these things can get fixed, this is still a team capable of winning a National Championship. If not, we may be looking at a struggle to get to the 2nd weekend.
Josh Perkins and Silas Melson need to find a rhythm:
This is the most glaring problem facing Gonzaga right now and something that needs to be fixed for this team to have success in March. We all know what this team is capable of and the talent they have, but if these two continue to struggle so much offensively, it limits everything they want to do. With Perkins and Melson shooting a combined 2/18 from behind the three-point line since the BYU game, it has had a huge impact on the whole offense. You can see the offense start to get very stagnant as the defenders aren't really honoring Perkins and Melson as a threat from the perimeter. With that, you then see a lot of ball watching from the guards and the bigs try and create offense. Unfortunately, a lot of the offense right now is stand around and watch Nigel Williams-Goss, or any of the frontcourt guys, try and create baskets. When this team was at its best, the offense was free flowing and every guys on the court was a threat to score. The hope is they can find this again against SMC, and then carry it over into the NCAA Tournament.
The Three-Point Defense Needs To Tighten Up:
As Gonzaga learned in its loss against Wichita St. a few years ago, no matter how much more talent you may have, if you let a team get hot from behind the three-point line, anything can happen. Throughout this season, this team did a very good job of not allowing teams to beat them from deep. They chased good shooting teams off the line and made them try and score over guys like Przemek Karnowski, Johnathan Williams, Zach Collins and Killian Tillie. However, in two of the last three games, Gonzaga's opponent has made nine 3's. Not only is this a worry against a strong shooting team like SMC tonight, but it's also something that could have a huge impact in 1 vs 8/9 game next weekend. This team has all of the tools to be great defensively, but if they can't slow down the opponent from deep, anything can happen against any opponent.