Gonzaga basketball’s success this season will be predicated on the play of its top players.
With the loss of players such as Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris, Mike Hart and Guy Landry Edi, players on whom Gonzaga relied heavily last season, the Zags will need to see significant growth in their remaining players.
The following are pass-fail marks, or stat lines that must be reached, for Gonzaga’s most talented players in the coming season.
Kevin Pangos was a revelation at point guard his freshman year. He averaged 13.6 points and 3.4 assists in 31.6 minutes a game.
This past season, though, the focus of the offense shifted away from Pangos and towards a loaded frontcourt that featured Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. This shift away from Pangos saw his numbers slip slightly, but overall he was more efficient with his opportunities.
The most noticeable difference in Pangos’ stat line was his drop off in free throw attempts. In 2012-13, Pangos attempted 31 fewer free throws. This makes logical sense, considering the presence of two low-post scorers clogged the paint and allowed for fewer lanes to get to the basket.
For Pangos to have a successful season this year, he must continue to shoot the ball at an efficient rate, but he must also find a way to get to the basket and the foul line more often.
14 PPG, 5 APG
Gary Bell, Jr. averaged nine PPG last season in a year riddled with nagging injuries.
Bell, a defensive stopper for the Bulldogs, scored the majority of his points last season as the fourth or fifth offensive option.
While he is an exceptional three-point shooter, with an average near 40 percent over the past two seasons, Bell must find a way to add to his offensive game by creating his own shot and getting to the rim more often.
With a loaded backcourt and a limited frontcourt, the Zags will have to take advantage of fast-break opportunities.
For this season to be a success for Gary Bell, Jr., he must score more in the lane and lead the fast break when given the opportunity.
12 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2 SPG
Gerard Coleman is a newcomer to the Bulldogs this season.
Last season on the basketball court, Coleman scored 13.2 PPG for the Providence Friars in the Big East.
Given a whole year to work on his game, there is no limit to what Coleman could accomplish this season.
An explosive athlete and talented slasher with the basketball, Coleman will add an element Gonzaga basketball has lacked over the past couple seasons: A guard who can create his own shot.
Given the small-ball offensive scheme Gonzaga will likely run this season, Coleman will have plenty of opportunities to create his own shot and get to the basket.
I expect Coleman to play a large role in leading Gonzaga’s offense, and as such, put up a large stat line.
13 PPG, 2 APG, 5 RPG
Sam Dower has played second fiddle to many Gonzaga big men during his time in Spokane. Now, as a senior, Dower is the main man in Gonzaga's frontcourt.
Despite playing primarily off the bench, Dower posted 11 games of double-digit scoring last season.
As the next big man in line, following the exodus of many Gonzaga frontcourt players, Sam Dower will likely see his time on the floor double. Considering the lack of depth behind him, it would not be surprising to see Dower play up to 35 MPG.
An offensive juggernaut with a killer back-to-the-basket repertoire, Dower should have a monster season after finally having an opportunity to shine.
15 PPG, 9 RPG
Przemek Karnowski showed incredible promise in his freshman season last year. At 7’1”, Karnowski has the height to dominate most collegiate big men.
There is no doubt that Karnowski has the physical skills to succeed. What the Polish big man must work on to succeed this season is his offensive game and court awareness.
There were far too many times last season when Karnowski found himself double-teamed and either turned the ball over or took a low percentage shot. With an offseason to work on his game, the expectation is that Karnowski will have grown more comfortable with the ball on offense.
Furthermore, Karnowski averaged a foul every 10 minutes last year. With only one true center behind him on the bench, Karnowski must also work to avoid getting into early foul trouble.
As a potential NBA prospect, many are predicting a huge season from Przemek Karnowski. While I believe that he has the talent to play pro basketball in the future, I believe we are a season away from the breakout year.
8 PPG, 8 RPG