I don't think there is any way to explain just how long this offseason has felt. After the tough loss to a truly incredible North Carolina team, Gonzaga fans were forced to endure one of the most dull, and at times upsetting, six months in recent memory. Directly after the loss, we were forced to deal with the Austin Daye draft watch, that led up to literally the last hour before a decision was required. This was followed by an AAU season that was far from captivating because of the scholarship situation that this program faces. Instead of rabidly following guys like Sam Dower and Anthony Marshall (I'm currently wiping the drool off of my computer now), we instead were forced to focus on guys that will not be making their decision until next year. However, when the Mississippi Valley St. Delta Devils arrive at the MAC tomorrow, the 2009-2010 season will begin, and so will a new era and generation of Gonzaga basketball. While I'm sure most of fans have turned their attention towards the upcoming game against Michigan St., I can assure that you Mark Few and the team have their sights solely set on the season opener.As I write this preview, I can hardly contain my excitement knowing that the season is so close to finally getting started. However, as I did after the Alberta game, I will caution people that Mark Few will not show much in this game. I think we will get a better sense of the rotation and where each guys sits in the pecking order. With that said, I'd expect to see a very vanilla game plan and defensive scheme, as I am sure that the coaching staff does not want to give Tom Izzo any hint of the type of wrinkles and new aspects of the offense that we may see this season.
It will still be nice to see what some of these new guys can do against the best competition that any of them have ever faced (except for Elias of course). The two guys that I am most excited for are Grant and Andy. After being forced to red shirt last season, both of these guys figure to have an opportunity to contribute this season. With Andy, it will be interesting to see exactly where he seems to fit in the pecking order. I came away surprised by his limited minutes against Alberta, so it will be interesting to see if he is in fact the 4th option in the post. I don't see any situation in which Grant plays major minutes, but I think he will be important in giving Matt a break for about 5-8 minutes per game.
With nothing to lose, MSVU will come into this game and play with a high amount of energy and physicality. No one expects them to come into Spokane and win, and they will definitely use that as motivation. I'm sure they are hoping that this young team is looking ahead to Michigan St., and if that is indeed the case, then you better believe MVSU will make this a tough game. However, if Meech, Bouldin, and Gray can have this team focused on the Delta Devils, then we could see a tremendously efficient and impressive performance from the Zags.
I know that it's never good to look past any opponent, but there is no reason for Gonzaga to not completely dominate this game. With Elias and Rob, this team has a huge skill and height advantage in the post. Obviously, the back court of Meech, Bouldin, and Gray has the talent and athleticism to run MVSU out of the gym. Behind terrific performances by Elias Harris and Demetri Goodson, I except a 91-54 Gonzaga win.