Busting Brackets

Gonzaga Basketball: 3 keys to key road matchup at Santa Clara Broncos

Gonzaga goes on the road for the first time in WCC play to take on the Santa Clara Broncos. What are the keys to the Bulldogs winning?

San Diego State v Gonzaga
San Diego State v Gonzaga / Robert Johnson/GettyImages
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2. Continued good play from Ryan Nembhard

In the offseason, Gonzaga Basketball landing the former Creighton starter was viewed as one of the biggest pickups in the sport. Unfortunately, there have been some efficiency issues for Nembhard throughout the non-conference, including shooting under 20% from three-point range.

The first two games of WCC play showed optimistic signs for the junior going forward. In the wins over Pepperdine and San Diego, Nembhard scored 28 points combined, along with 16 assists and six steals. He’s ranked in the top-10 nationally in passing (6.0 apg) and that number is likely to rise in the next couple of months.

But the most important development was his three-point shot coming back. In the past two wins, Nembhard went a combined 6/8 from three-point range, which equals his 6/40 mark throughout the entire non-conference. As expected, the junior’s numbers are going to rise and they have to, because relying on the bigs and Nolan Hickman for every game offensively will have its issues.

Yet just as important will be Nembhard’s defense against the 6’6 guards at Santa Clara. At 6’0 himself, he’ll be at a disadvantage against guys that can shoot the ball well. He did fine in the Big East but the Broncos will be the one unique challenge in the WCC for him.