99 in 99: #23 Gonzaga Bulldogs

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The first nationally televised college basketball game is exactly one week from today.  This week, most teams get on the court for exhibition play… a.k.a. beating up on some D-2 or D-3 school to knock the rust off your tires.  (Unless of course you are Syracuse last year.)  The fact that we are this close to the tip of the season makes me happier than Survivor cast members when they have won a food reward.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” ranks the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-majors.  Gonzaga is technically a mid-major but their basketball program has proven it can hang with the big boys and will once again play like a Top 25 team.  Click here if you missed teams #24-99.

By: David Kay

Gonzaga Bulldogs (1st, 12-2 in WCC, 26-6 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
C:  Robert Sacre (Jr)/Sam Dower (Fr)
F: Elias Harris (So)/Kelly Olynyk (So)
G/F: Mangisto Arop (So)/Mathis Monninghoff (Fr)
SG: Steven Gray (Sr)/Keegan Hyland (Fr)/Mathis Keita (Fr)
PG: Demetri Goodson (Jr)/Marquise Carter (Jr)

Gone: G-Matt Bouldin, C-Will Foster, G-Grant Gibbs (transfer-Creighton), PG-G.J. Vilarino (transfer-Appalachian State), G/F-Bol Kong (left school), PF Andy Poling (transfer-Seattle Pacific)

mark few

2010-2011 Outlook:
Mark Few returns four starters from last year’s Zags team that won at least a share of their tenth straight West Coast Conference regular season championship.  Matt Bouldin is the lone starter gone but will be tough to replace because of his leadership and calming influence on the floor.

Gonzaga’s only senior, Steven Gray, will likely step into Bouldin’s role.  He has never been an overly-outspoken player on the court, but has an all-around game similar to Bouldin’s.  Gray will be joined in the backcourt by Demetri Goodson who struggled taking over the starting point guard spot from Jeremy Pargo.  Goodson did not shoot the ball well last season and had a poor assist-to-turnover ratio.  He will need to elevate his play this season for the Bulldogs to reach their full potential.

The frontcourt is solid with Robert Sacre and Elias Harris returning.  Sacre is an athletic seven-footer while Harris has a terrific inside/outside game.  Mangisto Arop likely steps into the starting line-up after being a valuable bench player a season ago.

Due to four players transferring from the program, the bench is a bit of an uncertainty.  Kelly Olynyk is a finesse seven-footer and the only non-starter to see significant minutes last season.  JUCO transfer Marquise Carter joins four freshmen as newcomers to the Bulldog roster.  Few will need a couple of them to figure out the college game quickly or else his rotations will be very thin.

The Zags are once again showing that they are not afraid to play an extremely challenging non-conference schedule and play any team, anywhere.  Few has scheduled nine non-conference games against teams that rank in my Top 50.  So they should once again be battle tested when conference play begins and have a “non-mid major-like” RPI.

Elias Harris GonzagaPlayer to Watch: Elias Harris, F

The German-born Harris is not your typical sophomore in that he is already 21 years old.  He made his presence felt right away last season finishing second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds.  At 6-7, 245 pounds, Harris is physical enough to overpower smaller opponents in the post but also has the ability to take defenders off the bounce and shot an impressive 45% from three.  His versatility has him all over NBA radars and he will be a key factor in Gonzaga’s success this season.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 vs. San Diego State
11/22 vs. Kansas State (CBE Classic)
11/23 vs. Duke/Marquette (CBE Classic)
12/4 vs. Illinois (in Seattle)
12/8 at Washington State
12/11 at Notre Dame
12/18 vs. Baylor (in Dallas)
12/22 vs. Xavier
12/31 vs. Oklahoma State
1/2 at Wake Forest
2/5 vs. Memphis

Other 99 in 99’s:
#24 Texas
#25 San Diego State
#26 Xavier
#27 West Virginia
#28 BYU
#29 Georgia
#30 St. John’s
#31 N.C. State
#32 Florida State
#33 Marquette
#34 Temple
#35 Vanderbilt
#36 Arizona
#37 Murray State
#38 Dayton
#39 Notre Dame
#40 Mississippi State
#41 Utah State
#42 Maryland
#43 Richmond
#44 UNLV
#45 Seton Hall
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

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