Now that we all have had the opportunity to finally calm down and get over the excitement that was generated from the performance against Michigan St., it's time to focus in IPFW. To be completely honest, this screams trap game in every sense of the word. You have a very young Gonzaga team that is coming off a tremendous effort against the #2 team in the country, and you have the Maui Invitational next week. It will take a great effort from Mark Few and the rest of the staff to make sure that the guys are totally focused on the task at hand. With the youth and inexperience that this roster has, these games against teams that should not present a problem, are what scare me the most. However, if this team can be totally focused on the task at hand, then I think this game should present an incredible opportunity to get guys like Mangisto Arop, Grant Gibbs, and maybe even Bol Kong, on the court for significant minutes to help build confidence and perhaps get a better feel for the rotation that will be used in Maui.After watching this team play in each of the first three games this year, I really can't think of a front court that I would take over the rotation of Sacre, Harris, Foster, Olynyk. Before I continue with his preview, I want to thoroughly congratulate Will Foster on the improvements he had made. I know that we have been hard on him at times on this blog, but watching him play so well against Michigan St. was a great feeling. With that said, this front court is incredibly versatile and athletic, and shouldn't be challenged by anything that IPFW throws at them. The main guy to watch out for on IPFW is Deilvez Yearby, who at 6'6, also happens to be the tallest guy in the starting lineup. There is no one that IPFW can put on the court to challenge any of the guys in the Gonzaga front court.
As I mentioned earlier, one thing that I will be avidly watching for is how Mangisto Arop, Grant Gibbs, and Bol Kong are used. For this team to reach their ultimate potential (which I'm starting to think is scary good), one of those three guys must be a spark plug off the bench. I think that GJ, Kelly, and Will all know and are excelling at their roles off the bench. However, one of the three guys I mentioned must come off the bench and be an assassin for this team. The guy who really jumps out to me is Bol Kong, as there is no question about his ability to score. However, Kong must show the toughness and grit that this team seems to exude before he can even hope to see the court. Arop, who had no problem scoring against elite International competition, has a tremendous opportunity to excel in this role.
Assuming that the guys come out focused and ready to dominate a lesser opponent, which hasn't always been a given with this program, then there is no reason for this game to be within 20 points. The Zags have more size and talent in the front court. With Meech, Bouldin, and Gray, Gonzaga is more athletic and skilled in the back court. Normally, I would be a little uncomfortable about a game like this, but for some reason I just feel like there is something different in the air with this program. Behind a great performance from Meech Goodson and the bench, the Zags will coast to a 88-55 victory.