WVU Defense In Spotlight As Mountaineers Face Gonzaga

West Virginia guard Taz Sherman fires a jumper over VCU's Jimmy Clark III

Gonzaga has played nearly flawlessly in opening week destructions of Kansas and Auburn. West Virginia, according to head coach Bob Huggins, “hasn’t played very well”. While that doesn’t mean the Mountaineers are destined to lose Wednesday’s Jimmy V Classic match-up with the Bulldogs in Indianapolis, there’s no question that WVU has to perform better, especially on the defensive end, to counter the Zags’ efficient offense.

Head coach Mark Few’s squad boasts a bucketful of analytic-friendly stats that illustrate their offensive prowess. Obvious items such as scoring (96 points per game) and a nation’s best shooting percentage of 58.5% are buttressed by new age stats such as effective field goal percentage (63.1% – 5th nationally) and overall shooting efficiency (4th nationally).

West Virginia (3-0) vs. Gonzaga (2-0) Wed Dec 2 7:00 PM ET
Bankers Life Fieldhouse Indianapolis, IN TV: ESPN
Poll: WVU-11 GU-1 Series: GU 4-0 Last Game: GU 61-58
Twitter: @BlueGoldNews Facebook: BlueGoldNews Web: BlueGoldNews.com

 

“They’re very, very skilled. I think that has been a trait of Gonzaga basketball for a lot of years,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “They pass it extremely well. They shoot it extremely well. They shoot it as well as anybody we have played in a very long time.”

West Virginia can’t expect to shut down the Zags, who show seven of the eight players in their rotation making 50% or better of their shots, including Drew Timme (71%), Corey Kispert (63%) and Jalen Suggs (62.5%). A combination of ball movement and crisp offensive cuts have lead to numerous open chances, which Gonzaga (2-0) has converted with regularity.

The Mountaineers will, however, have to take a chunk out of the Bulldog offense. Disrupting the flow with physicality will be one factor, as will better communication and adherence to the scouting report, which will detail how to best combat each foe, especially in the pick and screen game.

“I don’t think we have played as well as we are capable of playing. We haven’t guarded even a little bit compared to what this group did last year at the end of the year,” Huggins said. “Baylor came in here number one in the country and we guarded the heck out of them, and they bounced it. We didn’t guard any of the teams in South Dakota the way we guarded the teams in our league.”

* * * * * *

The reverse offense-defense battle could also be an item to watch. Gonzaga has allowed a 45.5% shooting rate and a 53.3% effective field goal rate to its foes. WVU, still fighting to establish consistent offensive play, made just 41.1% of its tries in its three games in South Dakota. If the strengths of the teams wind up being a draw, it could be that the squad which performs better in its weaker area could come out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a win.

Get all of our print editions with your subscription today!

* * * * * *

The teams will match current conference players of the week, with Gonzaga’s Timme (West Coast Conference) against the Mountaineers’ Derek Culver (Big 12).

* * * * * *

Gonzaga is 8-2 in its last 10 meetings against Big 12 teams, and 20-9 overall. The Bulldogs are on a tour of teams expected to battle at the top of the Big 12 league, as they will remain in Indy to face Baylor on Saturday.

* * * * * *

In addition to its 0-4 record against the Zags, WVU is 0-3 all-time in the Jimmy V Classic. Gonzaga is 1-1 in the event.

* * * * * *

Given the praise for Gonzaga’s passing and ball movement, and some dissonance in West Virginia’s performance in the same area, it might be safe to assume that the Zags’ assist numbers eclipse the Mountaineers. While that’s true in the comparison of raw numbers (GU holds a 17.5-12.3 advantage in assists per game), the Bulldogs have only a slight edge in assists per made bucket. Gonzaga has assists on 46.1% of its successful shots, but WVU is right behind at 45.7%. That suggests that when the Mountaineers do pass the ball crisply, they typically convert on a good number of offensive possessions. A key will be in avoiding empty possessions, or ones in which a last moment shot has to be hoisted to beat the shot clock.

Home Page forums WVU Defense In Spotlight As Mountaineers Face Gonzaga

  • This topic has 2 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated by Butlereer.
Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #130150

    Gonzaga has played nearly flawlessly in opening week destructions of Kansas and Auburn. West Virginia, according to head coach Bob Huggins, “hasn’t pl
    [See the full post at: WVU Defense In Spotlight As Mountaineers Face Gonzaga]

    #130167
    JAL

    To me the only bad outcome would be to get blown out.  Lose a close one and you know you play with the best.

    #130169

    Keep it in single digits and we should be OK with that.  A W would catapult us in the rankings.  But let’s not get our hopes up too high.

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Home Page forums WVU Defense In Spotlight As Mountaineers Face Gonzaga

Home Page forums WVU Defense In Spotlight As Mountaineers Face Gonzaga