Last season was supposed to be Gonzaga's rebuilding period. Mark Few and the Bulldogs weren’t even expected to win the West Coast Conference. Surprise, they proved the doubters wrong in their dominance of the league.
But it shouldn't be a shock when the Bulldogs beat major conference opponents because they have proven they are a dominant basketball program.
Gonzaga did finish last season on a disappointing note, however, with a blowout loss to Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Most of their talent from last year is back, and there are some impressive newcomers vying for time. This Bulldogs team should be even tougher to beat in 2010-11.
Gonzaga Bulldogs: Offseason Changes
The Bulldogs return almost everyone from last year’s team, except for Matt Bouldin. He did a little bit of everything for this team so he will be hard to replace.
However, the Bulldogs have the depth to help minimize the damage of this loss. The amazing part of this program over the last decade has been their ability to consistently replace one talented player with another high-quality player.
Gonzaga brought over a couple of quality European players as a part of this year’s freshman class, and I expect them to step up and contribute right away. Mathis Keita and Mathis Monnighoff possess the skills necessary to make a difference for this Bulldog basketball team. Both players are long and will instantly help improve Gonzaga’s defensive presence.
Marquise Carter is a transfer who you’ll want to keep a close eye on. Carter is 6'4", and he has the ability to get to the rim. The coaches have been impressed with Carter’s leadership skills, so he’ll likely see some significant playing time.
Gonzaga Bulldogs Predictions: Outlook
Gonzaga always seems to have that young talented player who the professional scouts absolutely love, and that is the case once again this year. Elias Harris was second on the team in scoring and the leading rebounder last year as a freshman. He has the ability to knock down shots from the outside and he is a matchup nightmare for the defense.
Down low the Bulldogs have a dominant big man in Robert Sacre. Sacre averaged almost two blocks per game last year, and he has developed his low post offense a great deal in the last year.
Steven Gray will be the senior leader for Gonzaga this year, and he is great both offensively and defensively. Gray does everything quite well, and I expect him to become the vocal leader of this team this season.
Demetri Goodson will need to run the point position efficiently. Goodson isn’t a very good shooter, but he doesn’t need to be. He simply needs to drive to the hoop and take care of the basketball.
Gonzaga Bulldogs College Basketball Odds
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are listed at +5,000 to win the NCAA Championship. The books list Gonzaga at +1,600 reach the final game of the NCAA Tournament in 2011.
Gonzaga has never been afraid to schedule some of the best teams in college basketball, and that is the case once again this year. Gonzaga will play Kansas State on Nov. 22, so we’ll get an early look at how competitive this team can be this season.
The Bulldogs play Baylor, Xavier, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest in the span of just two weeks right before conference play begins. In the WCC, Gonzaga should easily be the best team. St. Mary’s and Loyola-Marymount will likely be the two toughest foes on their conference schedule.
Gonzaga College Basketball Predictions and Picks
What’s not to like about the Gonzaga basketball program? The naysayers have been expecting them to drop off the map for a while, but even the toughest critics are now starting to realize how consistently great this team is.
Harris is a star in the making and the supporting cast is more than capable. The key to how far they get in this year’s tournament will be what kind of play they get at the point guard spot.
Expect Gonzaga to be even more dangerous than they were last season.