The Gonzaga men’s basketball team has made the big dance 13 times in a row. Here are four reasons next year will be the year they break through to the Final Four.
1. Elias Harris Is Ready to Break Out
Harris had a fantastic freshman season in which he averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game. He was also surprisingly efficient, as he converted 55 percent of his field goal attempts and 45 percent of his three-point attempts. He seemed poised for a sensational sophomore season.
However, he fell into a sophomore slump last year. His averages slipped to 12 points and six rebounds per game, and his percentages fell to 52 percent on field goals and 35 percent on three-point shots. Harris had a shoulder injury coming into the year and battled an Achilles injury as well. His explosiveness and first step were gone. Now that he is healthy, look for the breakout that was expected last year.
2. Guy Landry has Arrived
Gonzaga has been known to struggle with more athletic teams, and Junior College transfer Guy Landry is just what they need. His athleticism will not only lead to some spectacular dunks; Landry projects to be the best perimeter defender on the roster. Gonzaga finally has someone to shut down the Jimmer Fredette and Steph Curry types who have eliminated Gonzaga in past tournaments.
3. Marquise Carter has a Year of Experience
It took Carter a little while to get going last year. But in the end he won the WCC tournament most valuable player award. Carter scored double-digit points in five of his last seven games before the NCAA tournament, including 18 in the WCC semifinal game. Then in the first round of the tournament, he scored 24 points against St. John’s.
With another offseason to further learn the Gonzaga system, look for Marquise to continue the progress he made at the end of last year.
4. The Freshmen are Ready
Gonzaga landed a star-studded freshman class, headlined by the state of Washington’s player of the year Gary Bell Jr. Idaho player of the year Kyle Dranginis and Chris Sarbaugh are expected to redshirt, but Oklahoma player of the year Ryan Spangler and Canadian import Kevin Pangos are expected to see minutes this year.
Look for the 4-star recruit Bell to start right away, Pangos to push Stockton for the starting point guard spot and for Spangler to bring toughness and rebounding off the bench.