This might be a long blog. I will not apologize. There's a lot I want to talk about from this game, Gonzaga in general and Eric Musselman. I'm not in NYC so I'm not on Bench Mob's March After Midnight tonight so sue me. First let's get to this game.
This was an Eric Musselman masterclass. He outcoached Mark Few plain and simple. It wasn't even close. Muss had the perfect gameplan in terms of how he exposed Drew Timme in the perimeter and then how he attacked Andrew Nembhard. Both were not a coincidence because Nembhard was pretty trash tonight and Timme was whatever. Muss would blitz screens. He'd send doubles off the ball in the post when Timme caught it weakside. It was honestly damn near porn what he did from a pure basketball standpoint.
That's how we get to the Gonzaga narrative - and Arkansas I'll talk about you again later in the blog.
Gonzaga did not lose this game because they play in the WCC. Gonzaga lost this game because Chet Holmgren fouled out and was in foul trouble and mostly because Mark Few was outcoached. Arkansas hit every big shot they had to, pulling up a bunch of midrange shots while Gonzaga missed bunnies, sure. But also every loose ball went to Arkansas. You want to blame that on the WCC? Fine. It's not 100% correct but if you want to say that Gonzaga didn't get loose balls because they aren't used to playing close games against guys like Arkansas, it's fair. But it's also a disservice to making two title games in the last five tournaments and always making the Sweet 16. That's not common.
At the same time, something needs to change with Gonzaga. Whether it's adding some sort of different type of player or depth, something is off. That was clear here where Andrew Nembhard was their 2nd scoring option. He's more of a 3rd or 4th option. They lacked shooting too weirdly. Few hasn't been able to put together the best of both worlds - last year's offense, this year's defense, etc.
Where you can blame them playing in the WCC is in dogfights like this. Where they have to play against dudes that are Elite Eight good like Arkansas. It's different than the Pacific's of the world. Or where they aren't getting the incredibly friendly whistle and have to figure out a way to still score. That didn't happen. Like I said Muss ran circles around Few in how he really exposed both Nembhard and Timme.
Now as for Chet? Yeah, this was some dogshit officiating tonight. His two fouls in the first half were legit fouls. But the three in the second half?
Still not as bad as missing this call somehow
Now the officiating was HORRENDOUS, both ways. But Chet was the difference for this Gonzaga team. He's the one guy that could defend and hid Timme's shortcomings there. With him on the bench, Arkansas just drove at the rim and waited for Gonzaga to collapse. Was he the most polished player? No, of course not. But he was the one guy Gonzaga needed the most. It was clear when he was on the floor vs out.
But for Arkansas here who might get their own blog tomorrow. This is why you hire Muss. The dude coaches his ass off. We can talk about JD Notae's shot selection and all that shit. But the fact is he gets these guys to adapt to a system but also adapt on the fly. It took Arkansas a few months to figure out their rotations. That's why they are here now.