It's never just about the win, it's about the manner in which you win.
Gonzaga's takedown of Saint Mary's in Moraga was a great example of that. If they simply escaped with the victory it would've been a nice feather in their cap. But their suffocating performance against Jock Landale, and a comfortable win over the nation's hottest team seems to suggest a lot more about where this Gonzaga squad is.
Take a look at what Johnathan Williams had to say Tuesday about their performance, crediting the team's 'attention to detail'.
"It was a team effort on the defensive end. And the offense just speaks for itself. If we don't turn the ball over we can do some amazing things on offense. But I was just proud of our defense and how we stepped up as a team to stop Jock Landale. Also how we stopped all the threes from falling. They're a good three-point shooting team but we was able to stop that."
Let's break down what J3 said:
He mentioned team defense, Gonzaga held the Gaels to just over 41 percent shooting, well below their nation's best mark, which is north of 52.
How about their offense, specifically limiting turnovers? Zags gave it away just four times - on the year they average over 11.
The biggest standout was their defense of Jock Landale, who they held to four points on just four shots. Landale averages 22 points on 13 shots a night.
And they locked the Gaels down from deep. Saint Mary's went 5-for-20. They typically hit around eight a game at a 41 percent clip.
That effort - and Williams words - reminded me of another Gonzaga team: the best in the program's history, which was on point when it came to attention to detail basically every night.
The area that stood out most was on defense, where they finished the season first in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy in 2017.
Sure, Mark Few's group had a great makeup, with rim protectors inside and experienced guards who gave effort on that end of the floor as well. But it takes work between the ears as well - and Few lauded that group a year ago for their attentiveness from one game and opponent to the next.
"We really haven't taken a night off," Few said after their dismantling of San Diego on January 26th of 2017. "When they've needed to have an attention to detail like in a game like this they've had it. When they've needed to be physical and athletic they've done that. When they've had to suffocate three-point shooters they've done that. So I would say that has stood out."
Now that's not to say this year's group is on the level of their predecessors. Again, they don't have some of the pieces that the Bulldogs' first Final Four squad had. But again, what made that team great went beyond their physical capabilities. It was a result of their maturity and consistent approach.
We saw some of that at Saint Mary's, and we've seen it in how they've closed out close games the last couple weeks. Johnathan Williams told Andy Katz they have each others back's now, and they're helping each other out more than they did early in the year.
Silas Melson is another senior who says he can see this team growing up.
"As the season goes I think experience will help us out a lot and it did help us out a lot. I think guys like Rui and Killian and Norvell - the young guns - they're starting to understand the value of possessions later in the game. Or whether it be late in the clock or when another team is on a run. I think as a whole it's showing because we're weathering storms pretty good right now."
Up next for the Zags - a visit from LMU Thursday night.
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