#21 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2012-12 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs

2012-2013 Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast Conference
Gonzaga Men's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Gonzaga Team Page


After 14 straight NCAA appearances Gonzaga is among the best programs in the nation. Coach Mark Few has continued the success built by his predecessors and has lost just 90 games during his 13 seasons with the Bulldogs. The West Coast Conference continues to get tougher just about every year and the addition of BYU last season certainly boosted the entire conference up a notch. With Kevin Pangos leading the way, Gonzaga has the talent to get back to the tournament for the 15th consecutive season. Pangos burst onto the scene during his first start with Gonzaga. He scored 33 points that game and really took over the point guard position much quicker than anyone expected. He made some freshman mistakes, but Pangos led the team with 13.6 points, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.

2011-12 Record: 26-7, 13-3
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few
Coach Record: 342-90 at Gonzaga, 342-90 overall

Who’s Out:
The only starter not returning is Robert Sacre. That is a big loss as the seven-footer averaged 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during his senior season. As tough as it is replacing a player that made as big of an impact as Sacre in the paint, Gonzaga will be able to do it without much of a problem. Marquise Carter was the only other senior on the roster during the 2011-2012 campaign. Carter provided some quality depth on the perimeter. Mathis Keita, Mathis Monninghoff and Ryan Spangles, all underclassmen, left the program after seeing limited action last season.

Who’s In:
Walk-on point guard Rem Bakamus will add some emergency depth and redshirt freshman Kyle Drainginis is a great shooter who could be a nice offensive spark off of the bench right away, but the most intriguing newcomer is Przemek Karnowski. The 7-1, 305 pound center does not have a lot of experience, but he is a surprisingly effective scorer at this point in his career. Karnowski does not have the quick foot work that goes along with the shot blocking ability that players like Sacre have, but he can take up a lot of space and knock down some shots. If Gonzaga needs an interior scorer or just a big body in the paint, Karnowski could make a big impact during his freshman season.

Who to Watch:
But it remains to be seen just how much Karnowski will be needed this year. Elias Harris is back to man the power forward position. Harris is the best rebounder on the team, and possibly in the conference. The 6-7 senior is tough and has the athleticism to go along with it. Without Sacre, Harris may need to do even more on the glass. But Harris is more than just a rebounder; he averaged 13.1 points per game and will be given a long look in the 2013 NBA Draft. Sam Dower will likely step into the starting center spot. Dower did not start a game in 2011-2012 and averaged just over 18 minutes per contest. However, he still managed to score 8.3 points per game. Like Karnowski, Dower is not going to block shots or grab rebounds quite as well as Sacre, but he can score in bunches and in a variety of ways. With Guy Landry Edi likely moving into a full-time starting spot at the small forward position, the Bulldogs will have a bit more size available. He may not put up big numbers and does need to be more consistent, but Landry Eli is a tough 6-6 wing who can do a lot of the little things. The return of Kelly Olynyk, who redshirted as a junior last season in an effort to see more playing time, makes the frontcourt extremely deep. Olynyk is another seven-footer who can do a bit of scoring and help out on the glass. Two years ago he tallied 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and he should be a fine backup to Dower if he can beat out Karnowski for the job. Either way, there are plenty of big bodies on this team.

Final Projection:
Pangos was not the only freshmen who made a big impact in the Gonzaga backcourt. Gary Bell averaged 10.4 points per game and knocked down 47.7 percent of his attempts from long range. He shot 49.6 percent overall from the floor. That is a good number for a post player who never shoots. It is a great number for a guard who takes nearly half of his shots from beyond the arc. It will be tough for Bell to keep that pace, but he should be able to increase his scoring as a sophomore. Defensive specialist Mike Hart and backup point guard David Stockton are both experienced upperclassmen who play a specialized role for the Zags. When Coach Few needs a scoring threat off of the bench he will probably have to call on Drainginis. Relying on freshmen, even off of the bench, can be worrisome at times, yet the Gonzaga backcourt has had great luck with freshmen lately and Drainginis should just be the next in line. Another NCAA Tournament trip is already penciled in by most. However, that may not be good enough for this group and a deep tournament run is very feasible.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Pangos, Sophomore, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Gary Bell, Sophomore, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Guy Landry Edi, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game
Elias Harris, Senior, Forward, 13.1 points per game
Sam Dower, Junior, Center, 8.3 points per game

Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#45 Elias Harris