#25 Gonzaga Men's Basketball Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #1 WCC
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2010-11: 25-10, 11-3
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few (316-83 at Gonzaga, 316-83 overall)

Gonzaga’s backcourt will undergo some major changes this year and it will be their development that decides how far this team can go in March. Marquise Carter is the new star guard. After barely playing in January, Carter burst onto the scene and ended up winning the MVP of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The 6-4 junior college transfer averaged 6.3 points per game on the season, but that does not begin to tell his story. Carter disappeared once conference play began, but came back strong, scoring in double figures in seven of the last 11 games of the season. That includes a career high 24point effort against St. John’s in the NCAA Tournament. He is not a great shooter, but once he got aggressive attacking the basket, Carter soared. He will do that all season long during his senior campaign.

Who’s Out:
Carter will be asked to help replace Steven Gray’s scoring output. Gray led the squad with 13.9 points per game and added 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Carter may not be able to do all of that, but he can score. The departure of Demetri Goodson leaves a huge hole at the point guard spot. Goodson was not much of a scorer, but he did do a decent job running the team before heading to Baylor to play football. The other loss is Mangisto Arop, who left the team after averaging 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Who’s In:
Carter will need a lot of help from the newcomers. Most notable are Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Bell is a superb all-around scorer and a great pickup for Gonzaga. He could have gone just about anywhere on the west coast. While Bell is a decent ball handler, Pangos is the true point who will likely be thrust into the starting lineup. Unlike Goodson, Pangos can score and hit the outside shot with consistency. Whether or not he can handle the pressure of running the point on a team with high expectations as a freshman remains to be seen. Coach Mark Few picked up some more guards to cover all the bases. Guy Landry Edi has the experience after spending a couple years at the junior college level, Kyle Dranginis is another athletic wing who can score and Chris Sarbaugh will add some depth in a pinch. The lone newcomer up front is Ryan Spangler. He may need some time, and he should be able to get it, but Spangler is a smart player who is a fine rebounder with a ton of potential.

Who to Watch:
The frontcourt will carry the Bulldogs back into the postseason and likely another WCC title. No team in the conference can match the talent and depth Gonzaga has in the frontcourt. It starts with Elias Harris, who averaged 12.4 points and 6.0 rebounds last year. And that was a little disappointing after his very strong freshman campaign. Harris spent most of his time at the four spot last year, but he is an explosive athlete who can knock down the occasional long ball. Due to lack of other options in the backcourt and the mass of talent in the frontcourt, Harris will spend more time at the small forward position in 2011-2012. That could allow Sam Dower to team up with Robert Sacre in the paint. Dower had a superb freshman campaign. Despite averaging just over 14 minutes per game, Dower totaled 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. At 6-9 and 248 pounds, he is a big body and Sacre stands 7-0 and 260 pounds. Sacre is a proven interior scorer who can be very effective on the glass as well. Kelly Olynyk is another seven-footer who is coming into his own. Olynyk’s presence will allow Coach Few to start both Sacre and Dower and still have a big body available on the bench. Mathis Monninghoff is the forward who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability, but he may find it hard to earn too many minutes again this year.

Final Projection:
David Stockton played a pretty large role on this team late last season. The offense does move pretty well when he is in the game, but his defense is an issue. Stockton’s one year of experience in the system will earn him plenty of playing time early in the 2011-2012 campaign, but his minutes are expected to get eaten up by Pangos as the season progresses. Mathis Keita, a 6-5 wing, had a few quality showings as a freshman and should battle for major minutes off of the bench. The backcourt does have talent, but they are young. Carter is the most experienced player by far and he has less than half a season of consistent play at this level under his belt. The Zags will struggle early against a tough non-conference schedule, but they will come around sooner or later and will be the favorites to win the expanded WCC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Pangos, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Marquise Carter, Senior, Guard, 6.3 points per game
Elias Harris, Junior, Forward, 12.4 points per game
Sam Dower, Sophomore, Center, 7.6 points per game
Robert Sacre, Senior, Center, 12.5 points per game

Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings:
#56 Elias Harris
#70 Robert Sacre

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#84 Gary Bell

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