Gonzaga Basketball: Top 5 Storylines for Bulldogs' 2013-14 Season
Gonzaga basketball's season will start on Saturday against the Bryant Bulldogs.
There has been a lot made of this Gonzaga team throughout the offseason.
After the losses of key contributors from a season ago, as well as the news of incoming impact-transfers, Gonzaga fans have a lot to follow as the season begins.
Here are the top-five storylines for the Bulldogs this season.
Gerard Coleman’s Introduction
Gerard Coleman will look to add offense to Gonzaga’s backcourt this season.
A transfer from Providence, Coleman has had an entire year to improve himself and his game.
After averaging 13.2 PPG in the Big East, there is a lot of excitement for what Coleman could do in this Bulldogs lineup.
While there have only been two scrimmages and an exhibition to watch him play, Gonzaga fans have been buzzing with excitement over his skills.
Coleman could easily be one of the most impactful transfers this season.
Przemek Karnowski’s Development
Standing at 7’1”, Przemek Karnowski has the physical skills to develop into an NBA center.
In his freshman season, there were several glimpses of potential brilliance from the big man out of Poland.
Karnowksi posted double-digit scoring in five games last season, including a 22-point and a 20-point performance.
The physical tools are in place at this point, and now, Karnowski’s only barriers to greatness are mental in nature.
If Karnowski can avoid cheap foul trouble and turnovers, as well as improve his shot selection, he could find his way into NBA Draft conversations.
Kyle Wiltjer's Redshirt Season
Gonzaga’s greatest acquisition this offseason was in securing the transfer of Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer.
Wiltjer, a member of the 2011-12 NCAA Championship winning Wildcats team, will have this entire year to improve his game. More importantly, though, Wiltjer will have plenty of time to add strength to his frame.
Already a prolific three-point shooter and versatile forward who can spread the floor, Wiltjer will look to add an interior presence to his game.
Looking at Gonzaga’s most recent success in transforming an underweight center was in the case of Kelly Olynyk. The Canadian big man went from a benchwarmer to an All-American with the help of Gonzaga’s training staff.
While not in the forefront of attention, this storyline will play out interestingly throughout the season.
Sam Dower Finally Gets the Spotlight
Sam Dower has been the first man off the bench for three seasons with the Zags, but now, with a dilapidated frontcourt, it is Dower’s turn to shine.
The senior power forward from Minnesota has been a consistent stream of offense off the bench for the Zags. In fact, if you adjust his scoring numbers from last season to 32 MPG, he would have averaged close to 14 PPG.
His standout performance of 20 points at Butler last season was evidence of what he could accomplish with more playing time.
The key for Dower will be to utilize the many facets of his offensive game, including his incredible back to the basket game and his ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line.
Gonzaga fans will watch eagerly as Dower tries to seize the spotlight now that it is finally his.
Can Gonzaga Succeed in March?
Arguably the biggest storyline entering this season is whether or not Gonzaga can finally break through in the NCAA Tournament.
Yes, there has been plenty of regular season success, but if the Zags cannot find a way to win in March, the program can never be considered an elite national power.
Mark Few will look to take this Bulldogs team further in March than in past seasons, but the challenge will be the immense roster turnover that occurred after last season’s disappointing loss to Wichita State.
While this storyline will not play out until after the regular season, it will certainly be in the minds of Gonzaga fans all year long.