Gonzaga left Maui in fifth place, hardly the outcome they wanted, however it happened and now they have to move on. So what did we learn from the Bulldogs trip to Hawaii?
Kevin Pangos is a Stud
If you have been following Gonzaga basketball for a few years, you would know that Kevin Pangos has been a very good, consistent player who has gotten better each year.
His freshman season, Pangos was almost strictly a three point shooter, his sophomore year, he began to add floaters and runners to his game, now Pangos can do it all. He is still a knock down shooter, can create for others, get in the lane and get to the free-throw line. Pangos averaged a cool 26 points per game in Maui with a career high 34 points in the win over Arkansas.
Going into the season, most Gonzaga fans knew Pangos was one of the best players on the team, but the first few games of the season, he struggled to play consistently. After Maui, there is no doubt this team will go as Pangos goes. He will be the go-to-guy for the Bulldogs. Pangos is averaging 22 points per game thus far, and that number is likely to increase over the course of the season.
Dayton loss will hurt their schedule/may have to win WCC
I have talked about this in a previous post, but nonetheless it was a big story line out of Maui.
Missing out on playing Baylor and Syracuse hurts the Bulldogs schedule big time. Gonzaga only has a few big games left against big conference teams, and each of those teams is average at best. The Zags will play West Virginia on December 10th, Kansas State on December 21st, and Memphis on February 8th. West Virginia is 5 and 2 on the season, with losses to Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
While West Virginia is a big name school from a major conference, they will struggle in the Big 12 this season and most likely will not be a tournament team, thus not helping the Bulldogs strengthen their schedule.
Kansas State is in the same boat as West Virginia. They are a Big 12 team and picked to finish in the middle of the pack. They have struggled to start the season and most likely will also not be a tournament team. Thus far, Kansas State is 3 and 3 with two bad losses to Northern Colorado and Charlotte.
Memphis is the best chance for Gonzaga to get a big non-conference win, and they will need it. Memphis is 4 and 1, with the only loss a blow out to Oklahoma State. Memphis is a solid team but plays in a tough conference(American Athletic) where they will have to play Louisville and Connecticut twice. Nonetheless, they are the best option left on Gonzaga’s schedule to pick up a good win.
So what happens if Gonzaga drops a game or two, or doesn’t beat Memphis?
Gonzaga could very well need to win the WCC tournament to get in. Ok…. the Zags have only dropped one game on the season, and maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but if you look at the schedule it makes sense.
Gonzaga’s best possible win is Memphis and probably BYU twice. Say they lose to Memphis, and lose to BYU, and then their top win would be Arkansas, and the two Big 12 teams, assuming they beat them.
This is a weak schedule and come tournament time, the committee may look at them and say they did not do enough. There is plenty of time left in the season, and it is hard to know what teams will do what, but it is a possibility.
I could be completely wrong and Kansas State or West Virginia could run the table and win their conference, but I do not see it, and it could hurt the Zags. Gonzaga always seems to drop a game or two that they shouldn’t in conference play, and this year they cannot afford to lose to a weak team.
Hopefully the Bulldogs don’t lose another game this season and it can be all smiles, but right now, it looks like the Zags could be banking on a WCC title to get in. Leaving their tournament streak on the line.
Read more Gonzaga rumors, news and opinion on our Gonzaga basketball page