Spokane, WA – As two old WCC rivals went into Thursday’s game, many questions were on the minds of fans, players and coaches. Would Gonzaga have another great game without junior starter Gary Bell Jr. and with senior C/F Sam Dower seeing limited minutes with a bad back? Would Saint Mary’s get another win without head coach Randy Bennett?
Gonzaga’s left-handed sophomore C Przemek Karnowski (7’1, 305) and sophomore PF Angel Nunez (6’8, 200) helped alleviate any concerns Zag fans and supporters may have had as the Bulldogs won in convincing fashion 73-51. Karnowski came close to putting up a triple- double with 15 points, nine rebounds, and seven blocked shots on 5-of-7 FG shooting and 5-of-6 from the FT line. Karnowski also showed that he is a solid block defender by making Saint Mary’s junior C Brad Waldow (6’9, 260) have a very long night on 1-of-8 shooting and limiting him to three rebounds. Offensively, Karnowski showed a much softer touch both in the paint and in his FT shooting form. His confidence improved over previous games and he ran the floor much better as well. Karnowski was better in his counter post moves, but still needs improvement in this area.
Nunez once again was impressive to watch. In just 13 minutes of total playing time, he racked up 13 points, eight rebounds (three offensive) on 4-of-9 FG, 1-of-2 3pt FG and 4-of-4 FT shooting. Nunez showed that he can hit open outside shots, can quickly out-jump opponents on missed inside shots, make fundamentally quick first-step scoring moves to the basket and has good catch-an-face low post moves. These new facets to his offensive game go well with his overall great athleticism, explosiveness and strong defensive presence. This was only Nunez’s third game this season and it will be interesting to see how he progresses and how well he can perform against the higher level competition that the Zags may face in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Again, Gonzaga got a solid performance out of combo guard Kevin Pangos (6’2, 182, Jr.) who showed he has a great knack for always being around the ball in a positive way defensively by picking up a lot of loose balls, running down long rebounds and getting defensive deflections. Pangos once again showed that he is a solid decision maker out of the pick-and-roll no matter who he executes it with or how the opposing defense defends it. Pangos scored 15 points, pulled down eight rebounds (all defensive), had four assists and two steals, shooting 4-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-6 on three’s and a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line. Drew Barham SF (6’6, 185, RGr.) again was a sniper shooter going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Red-shirt sophomore guard Kyle Dranginis (6’5, 200) was the fourth Zag to score double figures with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two three-pointers. Sam Dower played only seven minutes and did not record any stats. It is clear that Dower is not 100% yet.
Saint Mary’s lone stand-out and double figure scorer in the game was Beau Levesque (6’7, 220, Sr.) with 12 points and three rebounds. Levesque shot 6-of-10 from the field and showed he has a good mid-range game and finishes well around the basket. Most of Levesque’s offensive game is derived of back-to-the-basket dribble down moves that end with a jump hook, turnaround jumper or floater. Levesque appears to be a good prospect for mid-level international teams looking for a combo-forward who is a strong built athlete and a solid scorer, rebounder and defender.
Eric Stang is a Scout and Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. Thanks to rantsports.com for the Karnowski photo.