The 2008-2009 season was one of the most anticipated in Gonzaga basketball history. Unfortunately for Zags fans, it ended with a Sweet 16 thumping at the hands of North Carolina.
The Zags now say goodbye to perhaps the best senior class in school history: Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, Micah Downs. All three of whom have a decent chance at hearing their name called at some point in June's NBA Draft.
Still, with all that talent walking out the door, the cupboard is anything but bare for Mark Few's squad. The Zags will enter the season with a talented team that should once again be the overwhelming favorite in the West Coast Conference, and should challenge to make a return trip to the Sweet 16.
With more than half of the year left until the first tip-off, let's take a look at the Zags projected lineup for next season.
G - Matt Bouldin
Bouldin had the breakout year that Gonzaga fans had been waiting for since his arrival in Spokane. Taking over for the slumping Jeremy Pargo, Bouldin started to show the decision-making and court vision that had eluded him for his first two seasons. After arguably being the best player on the Zags team last season, 09-10 will be Bouldin's opportunity to turn himself into one of greats in Gonzaga history.
G - Steven Gray
Gray went through the sophomore slump in 08-09, seeing his field goal, free throw, and three point percentages all go down. Still, Gray is by far the best shooter on the Zags roster and a promotion to the everyday starting five may just be the thing Gray needs to up his confidence and up those shooting percentages.
G - Demetri Goodson
Best known now as the hero of the second round game against Western Kentucky, Goodson had been a spark for the Zags all of last season. Goodson doesn't appear to be on track to become a great scorer, but he is perhaps the most dynamic player on the Zags roster. Goodson is an explosive player who has a knack for finding space in the lane, and is also a exceptional passer. Goodson is almost certainly being groomed to takeover the point guard spot after Bouldin graduates. The only catch may be if the Zags don't want to run a three-guard offense, in which case Osseo, MN F/C recruit Sam Dower would likely find his way into the starting five. But going into the season this spot would seem to be Goodson's to lose.
F - Austin Daye
Daye, who is perhaps the most heralded recruit in Gonzaga history, has yet to reach the lofty feats expected of him since his arrival on the GU campus. Though averaging nearly 13 points and 7 rebounds last year, Daye has never been able to take over a game like his physical attributes and ability would indicate. With the aforementioned senior class leaving, Daye could very well find himself as the focal point of the offense, making 09-10 a make-or-break year for the California native who some view as a future lottery pick.
C - Robert Sacre
For the Zags the biggest hole to fill will be that of Josh Heytvelt. Without Heytvelt the Zags are left without a strong inside presence. As mentioned before, Minnesota recruit Sam Dower may be able to fill that hole, but Dower is "only" 6-9 and that may not cut it for a center, even in the fast-paced Zags offense. That means the center responsibility likely falls to Sacre, who missed all but five games due to a broken foot. That injury though did allow for the NCAA to grant Sacre a medical redshirt meaning he'll enter 09-10 as he did 08-09, a sophomore. That extra year, combined with increased practice time and lifting, could make Sacre the inside force that Mark Few will desperately need with the loss of Heytvelt.