#25 Gonzaga: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast Conference
2009-10: 27-7, 12-2
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few (291-72 at Gonzaga, 291-73 overall)
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Gonzaga in 2009-2010. It was the year the Bulldogs could actually not win the West Coast Conference. But they did anyway, edging out St. Mary’s by a game and taking home their tenth straight conference crown. The loss to the Gaels in the WCC Championship and the blowout loss to Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament was disappointing, but last year has to be considered a success and this year should be even better.
Key Losses: G Matt Bouldin, F Bol Kong
Besides Matt Bouldin, Coach Mark Few returns everybody else on the team who averaged at least ten minutes per game. That means the group of newcomers will not have to do too much, or anything at all, this season. Shooting guard Keegan Hyland is a decent pickup and could emerge as a shooter off the bench in the next couple of years. Marquise Carter, a junior college transfer, is more ready to play right away if the team needs him. And without Bouldin, it is possible that Carter may find himself playing a few minutes off of the bench. David Stockton and Sam Dower will also compete for playing time after redshirting last season.
Losing Bouldin’s 15.6 points per game will be a problem, but the Zag’s have a couple backcourt starters returning who are more than capable of picking up the slack. Demetri Goodson will be asked to take over the point guard duties. The 5-11 junior started all but one game last season, but it was Bouldin who spent most of the time handling the ball. Goodson will have to become a leader. He is not much of a shooter or scorer, but that is fine as long as he can run the show and play solid defense. Once again Steven Gray will be starting by his side. Gray should be the most prolific outside shooter on the team, although he connected on just 32.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season. Gray is the only senior on the roster and he must take over some of the shooting and leadership left behind by Bouldin.
Elias Harris had a superb freshman campaign. The 6-8 forward was second on the team with 14.9 points and topped the rebounding list with 7.1 per contest. What makes the Germany native so dangerous is his outside shooting ability. He will not take a lot of three pointers, but he is always a threat to hit one or two a game. That makes it extremely difficult for opposing power forwards to defend him. Harris almost exclusively played at the power forward spot last season, but he could move to the small forward spot in some situations this year since the backcourt has some depth issues. The big man under the basket is Robert Sacre. The 7-0, 247 pounder had a breakout season after missing much of the 2008-2009 campaign. By the end of the year he was a consistent scorer under the basket and a relatively strong rebounder. On the other side of the floor, Sacre will be the defensive stopper after averaging nearly two blocks per game a year ago.
Who to Watch:
There are a couple returning candidates to fill in the other starting spot and Coach Few will likely shuffle these players around a little bit depending on the competition. Mangisto Arop had a decent freshman campaign. He is not much of a scorer at this point in his career, but despite his 6-5 frame, he is a very strong rebounder. Kelly Olynyk is the biggest player available at 7-0 and 238 pounds, but he plays more like a wing than a forward. His insertion into the lineup would make the Bulldogs a very big team in the frontcourt, but Olynyk still needs to learn to use his size to help the team out on the glass.
There should not be any question this year as to who will win the WCC. The Bulldogs are clear favorites to win their 11th straight conference championship and reach their 13th straight NCAA Tournament. Coach Few may have to find an unproven player or two down his bench to add a little more depth to this team, but there is certainly talent to be found among the newcomers and a few players who just did not get an opportunity to play last season due to the talent in front of them.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Demetri Goodson, Junior, Guard, 6.4 ppg
Steven Gray, Senior, Guard, 13.6 ppg
Mangisto Arop, Sophomore, Forward, 3.5 ppg
Elias Harris, Sophomore, Forward, 14.9 ppg
Robert Sacre, Junior, Center, 10.3 ppg
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