Whether or not you are a Jeremy Pargo fan, there is no denying the fact that Gonzaga fans have been spoiled by stability at the PG position over the past three years. Jeremy started every game from his sophomore year until he graduated in May, which means that for the past 101 games, Jeremy Pargo has been the starting point guard for Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. However, when the team begins practice in the middle of October, Demetri Goodson will presumably be the starting PG, and will have the opportunity to put his stamp on the great tradition of Gonzaga point guards.
Although Meech only played 13.4 minutes per game, he established himself on the national scene with his buzzer-beater against WKU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. While this was the first glimpse of Meech that many people around the country had seen, many Gonzaga fans already knew just how special the freshman point guard from Texas was. One of the most important aspects of the production that Meech brought during his minutes was the fact that the team didn't seem to struggle or miss a beat when Jeremy was in foul trouble or taking a breather. The key for Meech for this upcoming season is for him to turn the spark he brought to the court for 13 minutes a game last season, and develop that into a steady and productive 25-30 minutes per game this season.
Despite limited, and at times inconsistent minutes last season, Meech was typically very productive whenever he was given the opportunity on the court. For the season, Meech averaged 3.8 points and 1.6 assists. Even more impressive for the freshman point guard was the fact that he had a pretty solid 1.59 assist/turnover ratio. What has me even more excited about the potential of Meech as a starter is the great production he had against USF, when he was given the opportunity to play 25 minutes. In what was a very close game, Meech scored 13 points and dished out two assists, while making both three pointers he attempted. This impressive finish to the season continued at the WCC tournament, where Goodson showed some of the great potential he has in the future as the Gonzaga point guard. In 18 minutes against Santa Clara, Goodson scored four points, but also dished out a career high five assists. He followed up this performance with 11 points and three assists against St. Mary's.
Even with the quickness and point guard savvy that Meech displayed as a freshman, there is still a ton of questions that he needs to answer. The obvious area that needs to be addressed is shooting from the perimeter. Last season, Meech shot only 25% from behind the arc. I don't think he will ever be a 40-45% shooter from deep, but he must improve that percentage and show some consistency with his jumper. For Meech to use his blazing quickness and great ball-handling effectively, he must keep his defender honest on the perimeter. If the defense knows that Meech won't take the open shot, then they can sag off of him on the perimeter, which will negate his ability to get in the paint to score and hit his open teammates off the bounce.
The other thing that this team needs to see from Meech is the ability to run a team. Coming off the bench last year, Meech was expected to provide a spark and push the tempo for about 13 minutes per game. However, as a starter, Meech must prove that he can get the offense started in a half-court setting, while also making better decisions pushing the ball on the break. Also, as strange as it may sound, Meech needs to change his mentality a little bit on the court. There were so many times last season where Meech would drive into the paint and just get nailed by an opposing post player. I understand that Meech has the football bloodlines and mentality, but in order for him to stay healthy all season, he can't put his body in such tough situation as often as he did last season.
Despite some of the worries about his perimeter shooting, there is nothing that stops me from believing that Meech will have a smooth transition into his role as the starting point guard. Meech has natural point guard instincts and does an incredible job of keeping his head up while on the break, both of which allow for him to find open teammates and put them in position to score. Even more exciting with Meech is the potential that he has to be a shut down defender. No matter how great the recent list of guards has been at Gonzaga, it has been about ten years (1999 elite eight team?) since this program has had a true shutdown defender at the point. Meech has the quickness, the toughness, and the gritty mentality to dominate the opposing point guard on a nightly basis. In fact, I don't think Kalin Lucas and the Michigan St. Spartans have any idea just how tough things will be with Meech pressuring him for 30 minutes.
It would be unreasonable to expect that the transition from Pargo to Goodson will be 100% smooth. However, Meech will have so much scoring talent and athleticism around him, he won't have to take this team and put it on his back. As long as Meech can find his teammates and put them in position to score, while at the same team keep the defense honest on the perimeter, this team won't miss a beat with him in the lineup. It will be strange not seeing Jeremy Pargo starting for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, but something tells me that we better get used to seeing Meech Goodson in the starting five.