#9 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast

Gonzaga Team Page#9 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Gonzaga Basketball Tickets

Last season Gonzaga did not always look like Gonzaga. There were some tough road losses and surprisingly close home wins. The team did beat Oklahoma State in their NCAA Tournament opener as an eight seed before falling to top-seeded Arizona 84-61 in the Round of 32. With plenty of talent returning and a large, talented group of newcomers, the Bulldogs will look more like the team we expect. They will dominate the West Coast Conference and be a very dangerous team in March that should at least get to the Sweet Sixteen.

2013-14 Record: 29-7, 15-3
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few
Coach Record: 403-100 at Gonzaga, 403-100 overall

Who’s Out:
Sam Dower finally lived up to his scoring potential as a senior, averaging 14.4 points per game. The big 6-9 forward also led the team with 7.2 rebounds. The frontcourt depth also takes a hit without Luke Meikle and Drew Barham. Barham was more of a big wing and did not do much on the glass, but he was a very efficient shooter off of the bench. The big loss on the perimeter is David Stockton. He made the offense tick and dished out 4.2 assists per game, while only committing 2.0 turnovers. Stockton could spark this offense even when he was not scoring. Brian Bhaskar and Gerard Coleman also provided some perimeter depth. Coleman had potential after being relatively successful at Providence, but he averaged under a dozen minutes per game during his lone season with Gonzaga and is planning to play his senior season at Georgetown.

Who’s In:
It is easy to overlook the nice class of freshmen when Kyle Wiltjer, Byron Wesley and Eric McClellan are new to the team as well. Wiltjer spent two years at Kentucky and was named the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year during his sophomore season. Wiltjer is surprisingly perimeter-oriented and can knock down shots. Gonzaga will want him to spend time in the paint too. Wesley is eligible this season after leading USC with 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The 6-4 guard is extremely tough defensively and can obviously drop some big numbers against some quality opponents. McClellan has spent time at Tulsa and Vanderbilt and has been very productive in his limited games. He will likely be eligible at the semester break. Josh Perkins and Silas Melson are being touted as the backcourt of the future. Perkins should see some quality minutes as the backup point guard, while Melson’s shooting ability and defensive tenacity will be tough to keep on the bench. Leo Roese, Dustin Triano and Bryan Alberts are other newcomers to the perimeter and Gonzaga welcomes back walk-on Rem Bakamus who redshirted last season. Domantas Sabonis is expected to make a splash in the frontcourt. The 6-10, 231 pound forward likes to move around the court and he can do it surprisingly well for a player of his size. But he does not lack the toughness he needs to battle in the paint either.

Who to Watch:
Gonzaga will build around their three returning starters; Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and Przemek Karnowski. Bell missed some action last season with a broken hand and had knee surgery during the offseason. He will need to stay healthy to team up with Pangos to form a potent backcourt duo. Bell knocked down 42.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season and is an absolutely amazing scorer at times. Pangos was a little beat up last season too, although he did not miss any games. But it certainly hindered his production. On the year he averaged 14.4 points and 3.6 assists per game, but those numbers took a dip as the season progressed. But now Pangos is back on the ball and that is where he plays his best. Karnowski is the experienced interior presence. The 7-1 center really stepped up during his sophomore season and averaged 10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. His defense got much better in 2013-2014 and he did a relatively decent job staying out of foul trouble despite playing over 25 minutes per game.

Final Projection:
Depth is not an issue for this team and players like Kyle Dranginis, Ryan Edwards, Connor Griffin and Angel Nunez will have to fight hard to hang on to the minutes they got last season with so much expected from the freshmen. Dranginis, a 6-5 junior, did play 23.8 minutes per game last season and is a superb glue guy, but even he could see his minutes drop if the freshmen live up to their potential. However, Dranginis has a knack for making big plays and Coach Mark Few may need that skill on the floor as much as possible. Too much depth is never a problem though and Coach Few will find his rotation sooner or later. With big games against Georgia, Arizona and UCLA, the Bulldogs will be tested early as usual. By late December when WCC play begins, this team will be tough for anybody to beat in conference play.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Pangos, Senior, Guard, 14.4 points per game
Gary Bell, Senior, Guard, 11.0 points per game
Byron Wesley, Senior, Guard, DNP last season at Gonzaga
Kyle Wiltjer, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Prezemek Karnowski, Junior, Center, 10.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.7 (42nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.9 (67, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.5 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.8 (23, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (92, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.7 (9, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (140, 5)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (77, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.6 (55, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (109, 4)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#73 Josh Perkins


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews