After going up by 14 on a Josh Perkins three with nine minutes left in the second half, the Zags seemed like they were going to pull away, but USF cut the lead to six and had several chances to make it a one possession game. Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura came up with two big blocks down the stretch to seal the game for the Zags.
USF was outmatched down low against Gonzaga’s big front line, losing the rebounding margin, 42-26. This prompted USF to go into a zone with mid-way through the second half, which fueled the Dons’ comeback. USF made it competitive despite missing eight free throws in the first half, finishing 9-of-19 (47.4%).
While USF was heavily reliant on their guards to create offense, Gonzaga had a balanced inside-out attack. The Zags, though at times lacking urgency, were lead by by Johnathan Williams and Perkins with 17 and 16 points respectively. USF was lead by Frankie Ferrari and Souley Boum, with 18 and 22 points.
Here’s an overview of some of the key players in the game:
Williams led the Zags in points, rebounds, and assists. He finished with 17 points (7-of-12 FG), nine rebounds, and three assists. All of his scoring was done in the post, with Williams just as eager to shoot with his right hand than his left. He is a refined post scorer with a great package of moves, a good understanding of positioning, and a soft touch. He didn’t shoot any outside shots, and his free throws weren’t pure (3-of-5). Williams most impressive skill was his ability to switch onto smaller guards. He was put in multiple switches on the perimeter, got low in a stance and tracked guards well to the rim. It remains to be seen how his offensive game will translate to the pro level outside of post ups. His vertical elevation needs to improve.
Perkins finished with 18 points (6-of-13 FG, 3-of-8 3PT) and two assists. He excelled as a perimeter scorer. He has excellent command of the ball, with a good understanding of how to navigate the timing and position of pick and rolls, and a fluid ability to shoot off the dribble, a valuable skill. His footwork is very good and he uses a great change of pace acceleration, despite average explosiveness. He gets into his shot quickly and confidently and prefers getting into his shot from his left side. While he didn’t create much for his teammates vs. USF, he has capable vision. He needs to work on getting to the rim and finishing at an elite level, as well as adding strength to his frame.
Tillie was rather quiet tonight. He finished with six points, five rebounds, and four turnovers. If he’s not hitting his jumper, he can become a non-factor. He is an okay post scorer with some ability to put it on the floor, but his ball skills need improvement as he tends to put his head down. He likes to shoot a jump stop floater with his right hand if he’s going to drive. He is a great screener, willing to head-hunt, and showed intuitive understanding of where the opening will be on a hi-lo pass. His game best translates into a pick and pop threat to space the floor. He has better athleticism than meets the eye, but still not enough to keep up with quicker perimeter players. His rebounding desire needs to improve.
Hachimura finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. He has a nice strong frame to develop on and showed surprising ability handling the ball full-court. He took his man off the dribble from the perimeter multiple times and didn’t shoot an outside shot. He is slow getting in and out of his moves and isn’t the most fluid athlete, still a little clunky overall. He did show impressive ability like Williams switching onto guards and showed good shot blocking ability. He still needs more time to develop.
This article was written by Will Winston, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.