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Thread: Gonzaga's defense: an area of concern?

  1. #1
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    Default Gonzaga's defense: an area of concern?

    Before the Portland game last night Seth Greenberg said in the studio that the one weakness with this team is their ball screen defense. Teams are canning way too many threes, and GU allows too much dribble penetration at times. GU currently is at #63 nationally in defensive efficiency at kenpom.com, but they were in the 70's, before last night's game.

    One thing that is very clear is that Petrusev and Timme, especially, do not possess the defensive versatility that last year's big men did. They are frankly bad in ball screen situations, and teams are taking advantage of it. Although Tillie can block shots, he isn't what I would call a great one on one defender. He has also been injured. Funny enough, the best defender of the bunch - as others have noted - is Anton Watson, but he's been injured most of the season, and he's the 4th man in the rotation.

    We all know the correlation between having offensive and defensive balance and winning national titles. You pretty much have to be in top 20 in both categories. Ideally in the top 10, but this team's offense is #1 in the nation, so I think they can get away with being, say, 17th in defensive efficiency. But they need to get better. With GU likely landing a top 3 seed and being able to play their first NCAA games in Spokane, a sweet 16 seems likely. But to get beyond that, they need to toughen up the D.

    Any suggestions or ideas about how Gonzaga can get better on defense given their personnel?? I will tell you this....Few said on his coaches show recently that he feels Woolridge is as good of an on ball defender as he's had.

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    Sorry to bring bad news to the thread but we were actually #50 before Portland game. We went down considerably actually

    EDIT: the Defense is a huge concern
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    Unfortunately, it looked at times last night like one-armed Anton was better on D than his two-armed peers.

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    Of our most similar profiles (most similar historic teams) on Torvik, none of those teams made it past the elite 8. This is such a down year in college basketball that it reminds me of UCONN's last title and the Duke-Butler championship. Our biggest problem on defense is actually our guards. If you notice on ball screens, if the ball handler gets going downhill, most of our guards are following downhill, instead of just letting the big take the driver. That leaves the screener completely wide open and leads to either an open shot or an easy reversal. Our perimeter defense is pretty atrocious mostly because our guys get lazy and make mental mistakes. You will often see Ayayi ball watching on the help side, and then get completely caught off guard when the ball gets to the weakside for an open three. You will see Gilder miss switches, and you also see himself put himself in an area where can't do anything in help defense (he can't get back to his original guy he is helping off of and he isn't close enough to prevent penetration). Honestly the only guy who consistently tries hard out of our perimeter players is Corey and he is limited laterally. We don't have a true rim protector that makes it hard to score at the basket if Tillie isn't playing. And often we are asking Timme especially, but also Petrusev to come out way to far to hedge on pick and rolls giving their lack of mobility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CDC84 View Post
    Any suggestions or ideas about how Gonzaga can get better on defense given their personnel?? I will tell you this....Few said on his coaches show recently that he feels Woolridge is as good of an on ball defender as he's had.
    thanks for the post CDC, agree it's a concern and for why you stated.

    it's also an opportunity.

    since teams have shown they can attack our bigs with the ball screen and other ways, Zags know it's coming and can adjust. In more than one 2nd half this season, Few has changed the D to protect the screen roll defense, and it has fueled nice runs and allowed the Zags to score in spurts and bunches as long as they rebound. the personnel in those schemes appears important, and it's included some zone D and also pressure packages which take time off the shot clock, among other things

    so one idea is already employed: changing D to disrupt screen/roll rhythm after allowing it to flourish (not intentionally I'm sure)

    another thing is to attack the other team's bigs with ours on O, make them have to work hard on that end checking Petro and Tillie and Timme in the paint, put some fouls on them, slow them down and put pressure on those other bigs and give ours something to feel good about becasue they must know other teams are attacking them

    Maybe Zags can become a 40 minute defensive dominant team to appease kenpom, I don't know, but short of that becasue of personnel, Zags can still dominate on D in spurts by creating turnovers (which they've done) and running hard off of them and D boards to create easy buckets in transition. The 2nd half spurts have seen a lot of that. Shutting teams down for 40? maybe it will evolve. defenses can definitely improve over a season, no doubt, but maybe the Zags don't have to as long as they score well off of their transition opportunities. Clark Kellogg's old 'spurtability' thing, this team has shown some of that, doing it really well but just for stretches

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    No yet....there is plenty of time to improve and the coaching and the skills are there.....Few knows how to win in March...

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    Now just have to figure out how to win in April

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    GU's defense isn't the best, but the free throw percentages is the one wish I wish for at night.
    Krozman
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    First of all, winning in March or April is not an isolated event. I believe that winning in March or April is connected to the way we play in December, January and February. And I know that Mark Few believes that too. I know that playing in March or April is the furthest thing on his mind right now. He's totally focused on how to win in January.

    Do I think MarK Few is concerned about how the defense is playing? I'm sure he was during the first half of the game yesterday, and I think he probably let the team know about this concern. hahaha I think the thing to remember about the Zags is to be aware that there are so many new players this year on the team. I recall Few saying, at the beginning of the season, that because of this fact he and his assistants had to go all the way to the very beginning of what makes a player a Zag. I think he was saying that he has never had to start from the very beginning in building a Gonzaga team. For years he has had enough returning players to be able to build on what the team had done in the previous year or two. From my point of view, Gonzaga has had only Kispert and Tillie to be the foundation to build this team on. So it has been necessary for the coaching staff to start from the very beginning, from the very basics of how Gonzaga does things, or how Gonzaga plays the game of basketball. Both offensively, and defensively.

    To begin with I think it's totally amazing how well this team has played offensively. For this team to be the #1 offensive team in the country is mind blowing to me; so let's give the boys credit for THAT. So fortunately, the team has been able to build on that fact. They do continue to score in very impressive ways.

    Yes! The defense is certainly not as effective at this point of the season as the offense is. Is that a concern? I don't believe that the word concern is the word Few or his staff would use. I think that some fans really don't understand how difficult it is to develop a very tough defensive team, and honestly it took years for Gonzaga to figure that out. But they did. For years Gonzaga was not a really good defensive team, and it has only been in the last 3 or 4 years that they seem to have finally figured out how to do that. I believe it's a process. There is a lot of things/skills that go into building that defense, and they certainly are not there yet. It is my opinion that because it's a process that where the team is defensively right now is NOT going to be where they will be a couple of weeks from now, or a month from now, or a couple of months from now.

    My guess is that many of the new players have not played defense the way Gonzaga does, and I believe that it's a fact that Gonzaga has it's own style of how they want to play defense. So because of that they have to teach these new guys how to do that, and the new guys have to have time to learn and develop the schemes Few wants them to learn. And unfortunately, this takes time. Few has called out to us fans to be patient. He knows that what he and his staff are teaching will take time for the team to learn. So for us fans I think the way to combat any concerns that we as fans have, is to be patient and believe that the coaches know how to fix the problems that may be causing concerns.

    I saw some big changes that the coaches pointed out at half-time, and the team did play better defense in the 2nd half. Gonzaga beat Portland by 20 points in the second half. That's outstanding, and pretty much what we might expect. They held Portland to 30 points (vs 42 in the 1st half) which is pretty good and what we'd expect I think. So the team did make adjustments at half-time, and I think that that is a plus and says a lot. And the coaches will build on what the players learned by making those adjustments in the second half. It's a learning process, and there are some positives that the staff will build upon. I know that.

    So I guess for these reasons I am not concerned. This team will figure it out. Does that mean that they won't lose a game or two? That I don't know. Maybe they will need to lose a game or two to learn what they need to learn. Time will tell.

    Go Zags!!!
    Go Zags!!! The Best Is Yet To Come!!!

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    Like others on this board, I'm very concerned about the defense of our bigs. Ken Pom rates GU #63 in defensive efficiency margin. But remember, most of the other top rated teams have been playing cupcakes early in the season because their conference games are so tough. This board is well aware that GU schedules a few hard games before conference play because our conference is not as tough as some of the others. Yes the WCC has improved, and as last night proved, all conference games are tough, but generally speaking, we have played a tougher pre-conference schedule than many of the top ranked teams. Our defensive efficiency always improves after conference play starts, while teams in other conferences may start slipping from their current high ranking in that metric. I think our offense is good enough that if GU can get to a mid 20's rank in that defensive metric, we'll be OK in April. Yes, it will be very hard to get there.

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    To be honest, I'm not that concerned about the ability of the Zags on defense. They can shut teams down if they want to. We saw it last night. Portland had a 6 minute stretch where they only scored 2 points and couldn't do a thing on offense, and only scored 27 points (including a garbage time 3 at the buzzer) in the 2nd half. It's Gonzaga's effort and consistency on defense that is the biggest issue IMO. They take large stretches of the game off on the defensive end and IMO that's the biggest area Few needs to figure out and address. If they can do that then the vast majority of these defensive worries go away.

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    Some live in concern...if they weren't concerned about the defense they would be concerned about a couple dozen other things.....

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    Not concerned. 2nd half was great D. They knew they needed it in 2nd and came out strong

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    Quote Originally Posted by krozman View Post
    GU's defense isn't the best, but the free throw percentages is the one wish I wish for at night.
    That's a thing that is puzzling to me. Why does this team have such a problem with free throw shooting? We knew that Woolridge was never a great foul shooter at North Texas, but some of these guys should really be nailing foul shots at a better percentage. Woolridge is understandable because the best part of his game is not nailing long range shots but getting to rim for scoring opportunities. I mean, there is no one on the team like Kuso who you knew was a disaster at the foul line. I am not saying that the team should be shooting 80% from the charity stripe, but they should not be this poor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladyzag12 View Post
    Of our most similar profiles (most similar historic teams) on Torvik, none of those teams made it past the elite 8. This is such a down year in college basketball that it reminds me of UCONN's last title and the Duke-Butler championship. Our biggest problem on defense is actually our guards. If you notice on ball screens, if the ball handler gets going downhill, most of our guards are following downhill, instead of just letting the big take the driver. That leaves the screener completely wide open and leads to either an open shot or an easy reversal. Our perimeter defense is pretty atrocious mostly because our guys get lazy and make mental mistakes. You will often see Ayayi ball watching on the help side, and then get completely caught off guard when the ball gets to the weakside for an open three. You will see Gilder miss switches, and you also see himself put himself in an area where can't do anything in help defense (he can't get back to his original guy he is helping off of and he isn't close enough to prevent penetration). Honestly the only guy who consistently tries hard out of our perimeter players is Corey and he is limited laterally. We don't have a true rim protector that makes it hard to score at the basket if Tillie isn't playing. And often we are asking Timme especially, but also Petrusev to come out way to far to hedge on pick and rolls giving their lack of mobility.
    Interesting take. Especially because one of Gilder's strengths, supposedly, was his defense at Texas A&M. That hasn't been the case at GU. There have been several instances in which Coach Few has gotten in Gilder's face for his lack of attention to detail on the defensive end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krozman View Post
    GU's defense isn't the best, but the free throw percentages is the one wish I wish for at night.
    There was a graphic during the Suggs announcement game (Sierra Canyon vs. Patrick School) where the FT lines for the respective teams at that point were 15-17 and 6-7...and it made me wonder how HS kids could shoot those percentages but the #1 team in men's college basketball could be sub-50% in a close-ish game?

    Even more maddening considering we are the #1 offense in the country, it's not like we're some defensive juggernaut struggling to get to 60 ppg. Why such a difference between FG and FT efficiency?
    Your children have been placed in the custody of...Carl's Jr.

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    Our defense isnt good enough, and teams are figuring out ways to exploit ball screen coverage, or lack thereof.

    As CDC mentioned, Petrusev, Timme, & Tillie are not defending the ball screen 3's at all. There were numerous clips showing this vs Portland.

    Literally just giving up the wide open shot, not even a hand up.

    And if the opponent dribble drives, it hasn't been much better, although Tillie is able to recover fairly well, to alter shots.

    The guards are solid are on ball defense, at the point of attack, limiting dribble drives, yet just as terrible closing out, and not the best at ball screens either, save Woolridge.

    Gilder used to be an elite defender yet lack of focus, and dealing with an injury has been difficult for him, it seems.

    Watson is far and away our best defender. In every phase, post D, ball screen, switches, at the rim, etc, yet only one armed every game.

    Joel is terrific at denying passing lanes, deflections, & containing dribble drive attack, yet he is the worst offender at giving up open shots, both from 3pt line and even in the lane. It seems he is incapable of raising his arms up in the air.

    We better hope our elite, balanced offense if firing on all cylinders in March, or it will be an early exit, as is never leaving Spokane exit.

    The moment we face a team with a Top 10 type offense, we could be in trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scrooner View Post
    Unfortunately, it looked at times last night like one-armed Anton was better on D than his two-armed peers.
    He was. Kid’s a Barkley like beast on D.

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    Defense and FTs will be the downfall of this team come March unfortunately..


    Awful in both areas.

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    Wish Watson would get surgery/rest until his shoulder is good, and give Arlauskas more minutes. Maybe he could help. I love his intensity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uZiGiZaG View Post
    Defense and FTs will be the downfall of this team come March unfortunately..


    Awful in both areas.
    you forgot January & February

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    D improved from #66 to #54 on kenpom after USD.
    This post is for March Madness seeding purposes only.

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    Yes, a problem. Although tonight’s improvement is welcome, one game versus a completely overmatched team is not a sign of a cure. Much more work is needed. Fortunately, there is plenty of time for that to happen.

    Go Zags!!!

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    If any team needs an improvement on defense, it's the San Diego Toreros. The Zags had so many open looks last night that it wasn't even funny.

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