Need to frustrate them. They didn’t play in an opponent’s gym in their entire non-conference schedule. Make things hard for them, get the crowd involved and who knows what might happen. They haven’t been in that position yet. Quinnipiac stayed with them for about 2/3 of a game, so I watched back a good part of that game and tried to understand how Q did it.
It starts with ball pressure. Most of what Gonzaga does is designed to get a low post look or something with a guard and a big (screen roll, pick and pop depending on the big). Quinnipiac had some success with a 1-3-1 zone but stayed with it too long IMO. If it was me I wouldn’t run the same defense more than one TV timeout at a time. Their rebounding could eventually kill a zone if they don’t do it with initial offense. Gonzaga runs a lot of stuff that is maybe a set play or maybe not, but it’s a pattern expected to yield a relatively small number of initial options. Defending well enough to surprise them with those options not being there can rattle them and force some turnovers.
I would suspect that Santa Clara will concede offensive rebounds in order to get back on defense and prevent Gonzaga running out, which they do better this than most years. Even on a make, Williams-Goss will simply take the ball to the low post and play 1 on 1 if you don’t stop him. A lot of times their pattern offense is window dressing to get him with the ball and a 5 posting up either on low block or middle of the lane. On a miss they’ll run a more traditional break with the 2 or 3 man leaking out. Have to have floor balance especially when Feagin or Hauser takes it to the basket. Karnowski will set up at about 12-15 feet facing the basket sometimes if the ball is in the low block, but IMO you’d rather him take that shot than give up a 3 or low block look. The other big challenge is rotation after double team on Karnowski in the post. He passes quite well for such a big guy. Still, I’m not sure they have a real lights-out shooter – several good ones that will make shots if you give them open looks and they make a high percentage but they don’t take a ton of them. IMO if Karnowski is outside about 6 feet, you probably don’t need to double. If he’s inside 3 feet it doesn’t matter if you double. Perhaps surprisingly, they haven’t been a great rebounding team. Good, not great, especially on offensive boards.
When SCU has the ball, IMO it’s not too complicated. Gonzaga played some zone against Q but I doubt that happens much against SCU. So two things are important IMO — keeping their bigs busy away from the basket, and attacking them with the 1 and 2 guards. This could be attacking for shots at the rim, but doesn’t have to be. Just forcing help to come frees up Brownridge and Kratch, and hopefully Jadersten. Gonzaga defends the 3 point line really well and they don’t foul a lot. Loosening them up with the bounce will be important. Some guard to guard screening could work, as well as drawing Karnowski out with Jadersten or Kratch. Once you get them out of position, strike quickly!
IMO this is not an unbeatable team and it won’t be an undefeated team. Gonzaga has several guys in their first year in WCC and it may seem all too easy for them so far and they could be primed for a letdown.