Gonzaga basketball: Zags torn apart against Portland, Gonzaga player grades

Gonzaga basketball

Sam Dower Jr. (Photo credit:AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

The Zags went into Portland looking to add to their 4 game winning streak to start West Coast Conference play. After beating their first four opponents easily, the Zags were beaten down against the Portland Pilots. Full player grades ahead.

Gonzaga Starters:

Kevin Pangos- C+

Kevin Pangos has been battling with turf toe for a few weeks now and he has not been the same. Pangos finished with 12 points on 3 of 10 shooting with 3 uncharacteristic turnovers. Since the injury, Pangos has not been able to get open beyond the arc, and has lost a step getting to the basket. It is hard to be critical of him because of the pain he is playing through. Clearly the injury is affecting him and he has not used it as an excuse. Still however, Pangos is not the same and it was evident tonight. I have said before this team will go as Pangos goes and that still is the case. Hopefully he will be able to get healthy come March because an injured Pangos really hurts this Gonzaga squad.

David Stockton- D

David Stockton should not be starting for the bulldogs plain and simple. With Gary Bell Jr. out with a broken hand, Stockton has been the guard on the weak side with open three’s and he has not been able to convert. He was 0 for 3 from deep, each of them wide open shots. Stockton finished with 5 points on 2 of 6 shooting, including an atrocious 1 of 4 from the free throw line. Stockton has been able to get in the lane at times, but his game is tailored around throwing assists, not scoring. He only had 1 assist and 2 turnovers.  He would be better served off the bench being able to run the offense. Mark Few has always given seniority, but Stockton starting is hurting the team.

Drew Barham- C

The past 4 games, Drew Barham was shooting lights out for the Bulldogs hitting 14 three’s in 4 games. Tonight, Barham was only 2 of 6 from deep, including a few shots at the end, which could have helped cut into the lead. Barham has been playing well for the Zags and his minutes were limited tonight, still he had a few looks he should have knocked down. He also had a free throw down the stretch that he missed, which would have cut the lead to 6 with 1:05 left. While the Zags still most likely would have lost the game, it was a big miss. Barham ended up fouling out, finishing with 8 points.

Kyle Dranginis- B

The reason Dranginis is getting a B grade is because he was probably the most efficient Zag on the night. Dranginis played 35 minutes shooting 3 of 4 from the field with 8 points and adding 6 assists and 5 rebounds. While he didn’t do a lot tonight to stand out, he played very efficiently. He has been asked to step in and pick up a lot of the slack left by Gary Bell Jr. While he is not putting up the numbers Bell Jr. did, Dranginis has been a consistent guard for Gonzaga. He needs to find ways to be more aggressive on the offensive end, especially like tonight in the first half where the Zags had no fluidity on offense.

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Przemek Karnowski- C

Karnowski as he often is was the biggest player on the floor tonight, but yet he did not assert himself. He only shot the ball 5 times and only had 4 rebounds. This team as it is already struggles on the glass and Karnowski needed to rebound well. 4 rebound will not get the job done. In his defense, he got limited post touches and was not able to get in any rhythm. However, the Zags have asked for a lot out of the big man and he needs to be more dominant. The bright side of his night was he did finish with 11 points and made 5 of his 8 free throw attempts. Until Sam Dower Jr. gets fully healthy again, Karnowski will need to be the force inside for Gonzaga and tonight he was not able to do that.

Gonzaga bench players

The rotation was very short tonight as it has been for most of the season, only playing three players off the bench.

Sam Dower Jr.- B+

In only 24 minutes tonight, Dower Jr. managed to be the leading scorer for the Zags with 14 points. He has been hampered by a back injury and like Pangos is trying to play through the pain, which is commendable. In the first half, Dower provided some life to a team that looked dead from tip off. He was 7 of 13 from the field, with 4 rebounds. Just like Karnowski, Dower Jr., needs to assert himself on the Glass, and he did not do that tonight. It is hard to be critical of a guy whose back is still clearly bothering him but he needs to do a better job. Dower. Jr has always been able to finsish in the paint and shoot a very high percentage mid range jumper and he did just that tonight. He is a very valuable member of this Gonzaga squad and they will need him as close to 100 percent as possible come WCC tournament time.

Gerard Coleman- A

If it wasn’t for the last few minutes of this game, Coleman’s grade would have been much lower. The Zags were down 15 with just over 3 minutes left, Gonzaga did not seem to have any fight in them. Coleman played very hard down the stretch and helped anchor the comeback attempt by Gonzaga. He was activate and in attack mode getting to the rack for consistent layups. Coleman has had issues getting himself out of control with the ball and that is why he was benched in the first half. But down the stretch he put the team on his back and brought the deficit into single digits and gave the Bulldogs a slim chance, but nonetheless a chance. Coleman can be a major role player for this team and he showed his athleticism and defensive intensity towards the end of the game. While he still needs to learn how to play under control and had 2 turnovers, Coleman was one of the few bright spots. His play tonight should earn him more minutes off the bench.

Angel Nunez- B-

Nunez is quickly turning into my favorite players for Gonzaga. He is probably the most athletic player this program has ever seen and displayed it with a huge slam in the first half. Nunez adds athleticism that Gonzaga desperately needs. He is long and can get to the rim in one long step. The problem is he keeps getting blocked.  He has been able to get to the rack, only to go up weakly and be blocked. Nunez needs to be a more focal point of this offense because of his ability. He only had 4 points on the night but was an energy booster in the first half. Nunez only played 13 minutes tonight but should be seeing more minutes soon, he has to. He makes this team better still has only played 5 games since being eligible. I would like to see Nunez get the starting nod over Barham to help open up this offense.

Next game at Pepperdine January 16th.

The Zags have a week off until they go on the road against Pepperdine and they could use the time off. This team needs to get healthy and needs to put this loss behind them. They have a lot of games left in the WCC and will be tested multiple times this season. Hopefully for the Bulldogs they can use this loss as a wake up call and take care of business in Malibu.

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