The Gonzaga Bulldogs are a very good basketball team, but when they go toe-to-toe against other high level basketball teams they are always short on athletes; that is not the case with Angel Nunez. Against Santa Clara on Saturday night, Nunez came off the bench and lit a spark under his teammates. Nunez caused the game to become more hectic, and during his time on the court in the second half Gonzaga’s lead grew from two to ten.
For years Gonzaga has had plenty of shooters, and plenty of rebounders, but they have not had a player like Nunez. He stands 6-foot-8, with a big wingspan and athleticism to burn. Nunez sat out the first semester due to transfer rules after transferring from Louisville. He was eligible to play in Gonzaga’s last game, but this was his first action in a Zags uniform, and he did not disappoint.
Nunez barely played while at Louisville, so he was still a bit of an unknown, but he showed what he can do on Saturday evening. He had three blocks on the night; instantly giving him the fourth most blocks on the team. As a matter of fact, no Zags player has had more than three blocks in a game yet this season. Nunez also threw in a couple up-and-under reverse layups that brought the crowd to their feet.
This lift that Nunez provided in the 74-60 win was much needed. With Kevin Pangos missing a large chunk of the second half due to a toe injury, Nunez kept the Zags on top, and fired up the rest of his teammates. The teammate that seemed most inspired by Nunez was David Stockton. He stepped up huge late in the second half and scored seven straight for Gonzaga, and had two steals in a four possession span. Stockton had a career-high 21 points as Gonzaga put Santa Clara away late.
With Nunez in the lineup the Bulldogs are a more lethal team. And when Sam Dower if finally cleared to play, Gonzaga will be one of the better teams in the country. Keep an eye on the Bulldogs, because they are on the way up.
Follow Robbie on Twitter @rmarbury