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Gonzaga and Pittsburgh cut short due to player safety

The Zags and Panthers played 20 minutes of terrible basketball on a court seemingly made of ice. After halftime the floor was ruled to be too dangerous for the players, and the officials called the game off.

Kyle Wiltjer looks set for a big statistical season for the Zags.
Kyle Wiltjer looks set for a big statistical season for the Zags.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

At game time in Okinawa, Japan it was 77 degrees with 98% relative humidity. That shouldn't matter, since basketball is an indoor sport.

But it did, because this was one of those early season games that aren't played in regular basketball arenas, and the weather made its way inside.

Players couldn't find their footing. Seemingly every other possession saw someone slip trying to perform the most simple of basketball maneuvers. For instance: running straight ahead.

After conditions couldn't be improved during the halftime break officials were forced to call off the game due to player safety concerns. In an interview with ESPN's Andy Katz one of the officials explained the decision, stating, "Unfortunately, it's just the conditions. The players can't stop. We can't stop. It's a terribly unsafe situation for their sake and their safety. It's our discretion, and being out here on this floor, we've made the decision to call the game."

Pittsburgh led 37-35 over No. 9 Gonzaga when the game was called.

So what did we learn from these 20 terrible minutes?

First of all we learned something I think we already knew, especially after those aircraft carrier games, that basketball gyms are built for a reason. And, that we should play basketball games in basketball arenas.

For the teams involved there are some major takeaways, even if they come with an asterisk.

Gonzaga looked disjointed and downright pedestrian, just as they did in their exhibition game against Eastern Oregon. The frontcourt looked good, but the questions marks on the perimeter made things hard for the Gonzaga bigs.

Pitt came out with a plan on the defensive end and executed it against the ninth ranked team in the country. The Panthers are underrated.

The Zags, as expected, tried to pound the ball into the paint. The Panthers made that difficult by doubling bigs on the catch and denying ball entry into the post. When the ball did manage to get into the paint, the Panthers were ready and recorded three blocks in the first three minutes.

The Panthers' pair of athletic bigs, Michael Young and Jamel Artis, caused a lot of trouble for Gonzaga on the offensive end. Kyle Wiltjer is a liability on the defensive end, while Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski aren't really capable of defending the smaller, quicker kind of bigs that the Panthers trot out.

While the Zags were trying to force the ball into the post and getting nothing from their guards the Panthers pulled out to an eight point lead.

It took nearly nine minutes for a guard to score for the Zags.

Once Gonzaga's guards got going, the Zags were able to work their way back into the game and take a four point lead. This is the problem that will face Gonzaga at least in the early going as Mark Few works to replace the three backcourt starters lost from last season.

If the guard play isn't there, like it wasn't for the first ten minutes or so, it won't matter how much Kyle Wiltjer can stretch the floor. Opposing defenses can pack it in around Karnowski and Sabonis and force the otherwise poor-from-three-point-range Zags to shoot over them.

Gonzaga was four of 11 from downtown tonight. Wiltjer was responsible for three of those makes and six of the attempts. That's bad.

Eric McClellan, Kyle Dranginis and Silas Melson showed flashes, if only flashes, but highly touted freshman Josh Perkins didn't.

After just one exhibition and one terrible half on a terrible court half a world away it's hard to say this seriously, but Gonzaga looks much worse than they should.

The first day of the college basketball season is insane. There are games everywhere and it's awesome. A regular game in a regular gym is exciting! But, this is an embarrassing way to start a season.