There are a lot of high hopes for Gonzaga basketball this coming season. It is one of the first seasons in some time where Gonzaga has had a really impressive recruiting class, and a challenging schedule where all of the players can show their skills. All Zag fans should start getting ready for the season, because this could be the best one the Zags have ever had.
Players Who Can Contribute:
Mark Few and the Zags have managed to sign a plethora of skilled recruits to the 2014-2015 basketball team. Players like Euro pro player Domantas Sabonis (son of former Portland Trail Blazer Arvydas Sabonis), Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, and Bryan Alberts will be joining the team as freshmen and each of them have the ability to fill the void of a player who has left in the past year or two. Their variety of skills will come in very handy throughout the season.
Transfer Kyle Wiltjer could be a major asset to the 2014-2015 Gonzaga team. He sat out last year and spent the entire season training to become better, faster, and stronger. His build is similar to Kelly Olynyk’s, and all Gonzaga fans will hope Wiltjer can produce an exciting and winning season like Olynyk.
Another transfer, Byron Wesley (USC), will be eligible to play for the Zags this season too.
Current players Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. had a tough season last year because of injuries, but they still managed to put up points and help the Zags win most games. Pangos and Bell have had more than enough time to recover and look forward to their last season as Zags. Seniors Pangos, Bell, and Kyle Dranginis want to end their college basketball career with a bang, and this is the perfect season to do that.
Big man Przemek Karnowski is one of the greatest assets to the team. Karnowski has improved so much since his freshman year. He is now faster, stronger and smarter on the court. If Karnowski stays on his trail of improvement, he could be an unstoppable force, which would mean a strong season for the Zags and the chance for him to get drafted a year early.
This year is looking to be different for the Zags, because they will be taking on other preseason Top 25 teams. Mark Few and his staff have managed to set up games between UCLA, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Arizona. This is the first time in a few years where the Zags will be challenged by multiple Top 25 teams. Their RPI could improve dramatically if they win. Winning is totally possible, because the interesting thing about all of these games is that Gonzaga is looking for revenge on two of the three games.
Any true Gonzaga fan who hears the name Adam Morrison thinks back to what occurred in 2006 in the NCAA Tournament Gonzaga versus UCLA for a spot in the Elite Eight. Long story short, UCLA got ahead in the final seconds of the game, and Adam Morrison broke down on the court before the game was finished. Morrison is now a member of the Gonzaga coaching team, and Gonzaga has not met UCLA since 2006. This game will be legendary, and with the fire under them, Gonzaga could easily pull out a W in this game.
Last year, the Zags drew a poor match up (or so everyone thought) in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Zags (8 seed) were set to take on Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State (9 seed). Most fans thought that they would get murdered by Smart and his team, but surprisingly they were able to hold their own and stun most of America by winning.
In the next round of the tournament the Zags took on 1 seed University of Arizona. Arizona killed the Zags. Gonzaga turned the ball over 21 times and lost the game 61-84. Gonzaga has something to prove to Arizona this year, and if they are able to keep the ball under control it is completely possible for them to win this game.
Gonzaga has always fared well within their own conference (WCC), and this year there shouldn’t be much change to that fact. Gonzaga’s two biggest rivals in the conference are Saint Mary’s and BYU. Lucky for the Zags (and the rest of the conference), Saint Mary’s is still on probation because of a recruiting violation committed by their coach Randy Bennet that occurred in 2012. The Gaels have been restricted to only 11 scholarships for players versus their usual 13. This really hurts the Gaels’s roster, but really helps the Zags.
BYU is in another tricky situation, because they lost their guard Matt Carlino to Marquette. BYU also will not have their top forward Erik Mika and T.J. Haws on their roster this season, because the men will be on their mission trips abroad. BYU does still have Tyler Haws, and he is one of the top players in the country. It’s tough to say how BYU will deal with the losses, but it looks as if the Zags will have a high probability of taking another Conference Champion title.
Gonzaga is expected to have a more challenging season this year than most seasons in the past, but fans shouldn’t be too worried. The players on the team are strong, ready to play, and fill every position to a T. Their record is expected to be well above a .500, and the non-conference games that are scheduled could change Gonzaga’s reputation for the better. It is completely possible that they could win all three tough games if everyone is healthy and playing at their peak.
This year could be one of the best for the Zags, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made it to the Elite Eight or further in the NCAA tournament. The Zags are on the road to prove that a middle major team can change the way everyone else sees college basketball. ZAG UP!