Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Despite winning a school record 32 games and earning the program’s first ever number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, last season ended in disappointment as the Gonzaga Bulldogs were bounced in the second round by eventual Final Four team, Wichita State. Even though Mark Few must replace three starters, his team will once again be the team to beat in the WCC and a factor on the national stage.
Last Season: T-1st, 16-0 in WCC, 32-3 overall
Predicted WCC Finish: 1st
Projected Depth Chart
C: Przemek Karnowski (So)/Ryan Edwards (Fr)
PF: Sam Dower (Sr)/Luke Meikle (Fr)/Angel Nunez (Jr)
G/F: Gerard Coleman (Jr)/Drew Barham (Sr)
SG: Gary Bell Jr. (Jr)/Kyle Dranginis (So)
PG: Kevin Pangos (Jr)/David Stockton (Sr)
Gone: C-Kelly Olynyk, F-Elias Harris, SF-Guy Landry Edi, SF-Mike Hart
The luxury for Few is that he does return his experienced starting backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. The duo have been staples in the starting lineup since early in their freshmen years. Pangos is a savvy floor leader who can really light it from deep while Bell is an undersized but very aggressive off guard also capable of stroking it from the outside. They go from being valuable role players to the main attraction for the Zags.
Few gets a boost on the wing in Providence transfer Gerard Coleman who should start right away giving Gonzaga a three-guard look. Coleman averaged 13 points and 5 boards a game during his sophomore season with the Friars and might end up leading the Zags in scoring this season. Three-point threat Drew Barham and glue guy Kyle Draginis provide depth on the wing with scrappy point guard David Stockton giving Few an energetic, experienced backup to Pangos.
The frontcourt faces the losses of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris who combined to average more than 32 points and nearly 15 rebounds per game last season. Big things are expected from 7-1, 305 pound Przemek Karnowski who takes up a ton of space inside. He isn’t just a stiff big man though as the Poland native is fairly skilled on the block but still has room for growth. 7-1, 300 pound freshman Ryan Edwards adds even more size behind Karnowski.
After spending the past three years as a key reserve, Sam Dower finally gets his crack at the starting lineup. He provides some versatility to the frontcourt due to his athleticism and ability to knock down mid-range jumpers. Dower is capable of playing the five as well when Few decides to utilize a smaller, more athletic line-up.
Luke Meilke will be the primary reserve at the four until Louisville transfer Angel Nunez becomes eligible after the first semester. Meilke is a face up four who can stretch defenses with his outside shooting while Nunez is at his best off the bounce. He can also play the three when the Zags choose to go with a longer look.
Few picked up another key transfer in Kentucky stretch four Kyle Wiltjer who just never seemed to jell with the talented recruits John Calipari was bringing in. Gonzaga is a much better fit for the 6-10 shooter and by having to sit out this season, he should be able to add needed strength and improve on his many defensive deficiencies.
In his fourteen years as head coach of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Few’s team has averaged nearly 27 wins per season. Expecting a repeat of last season would be foolish, but the Zags still have the talent to win another West Coast Conference title and be a fixture in the top 25.
Player to Watch: Przemek Karnowski
Due to his pure size and soft touch on the block, there simply aren’t many college players who can guard the “Polish Power.” He should see consistent double teams which will leave shooters open on the perimeter. Karnowski’s conditioning is worth keeping an eye on this season since Gonzaga needs him to play extended minutes and he tends to lumber up and down the floor.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/11 vs. Colorado State
11/21 vs. Washington State
11/25 vs. Dayton (Maui Invitational)
11/26 vs. Baylor/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
11/27 vs. Syracuse/Minnesota/California (Maui Invitational)
12/10 at West Virginia
12/21 vs. Kansas State (in Wichita)
2/8 at Memphis
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#21 Wichita State
#23 New Mexico
#29 St. John’s
#33 Boise State
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks