One of the huge benefits of the State of Gonzaga chat was being able to discuss the biggest question marks that hang over the upcoming season of Gonzaga basketball. Today, we are kicking off a series in which we will do our best to answer these huge questions that the team faces heading into next year. Obviously, many of the questions wont be answered until the entire team is on campus together and competition begins, but being able to speculate on topics is the best part of the Summer. In Part I of this series, we will look at the question of Who will Redshirt during the 2009/2010 season?
With the amount of new faces that will be a part of the Gonzaga roster next season, it only seems natural to assume that one of the freshman will be a candidate to redshirt. However, part of the reason that the staff was so comfortable with having Grant and Andy redshirt last year was because of the comfort they had with the guys who were returning. With the graduation of Jeremy, Micah, and Josh, the Gonzaga program lost three guys who the staff knew they could rely on, and guys who they knew what to expect from on any given night. I don't feel like this is the case this year, as beyond Matt Bouldin, we are looking at an extremely talented and an extremely inconsistent group of guys. Obviously, guys like Steven and Rob seem destined to elevate their games to a brand new level, but until the coaches see these guys do it against top competition, it will be tough to know what to do with the roster.
continue reading this post after the jump for our odds on who will be redshirting in 2009-10...When you look at the group of guys coming in, it's clear that there will be a couple of guys who aren't candidates to redshirt. For example, Bol Kong would certainly not redshirt if he is eligible to play. Bol would immediately step in as one of the top scoring threats on the team, and would provide great depth behind Matt and Steven, and arguably could position himself as the 6th man on the team next year. There is no way that Coach Few would not give minutes to a player with the ability to score like Bol. I think its fair to assume that the same thing can be said about Elias Harris. Elias has played against competition that is comparable to the WCC in Germany, and he more than held his own. Since he will be 20 years old when he arrives in Spokane, Elias does not need the year to mature that many incoming freshman do. The only reason that Elias would ever be a candidate to redshirt would be if he struggled to adjust to life in Spokane, but because of the fact that he has family in this country, I don't envision that to be a problem.
That leaves GJ Vilarino, Sam Dower, Mangisto Arop, and Kelly Olynyk as potential candidates to redshirt. Here is how I would rank them in order from least likely to most likely to redshirt.
GJ Vilarino- It would make little sense for GJ Vilarino to redshirt. While we all have high expectations for Demetri Goodson and think that he will transition smoothly into the starting lineup, there are so many factors out of his hands that make GJ a very unlikely candidate to redshirt. With Meech, he plays at such a breakneck pace, and gets hit around so hard, there is always the slight chance that he could pick up an injury. If that is the case, the staff will want to have a guy with the quickness and natural PG ability that GJ possesses. While Grant is a fine candidate at PG, I think the staff sees him in more of a Bouldin mold, in that he will play off the ball, but occasionally can be the guy to bring the ball up against pressure and initiate the offense. It's reasonable for GJ to be expected to replicate the role Meech had last year, and having both play also brings up this great option that was mentioned in the chat.
The staff wants to find a way to play them together if possible.
This possibility absolutely makes me drool. The pressure defense that these two could play against the opposing set of guards would drive teams absolutely insane. Having this option for 5-8 minutes per game is something that the staff wants to have, and this just makes it seem even more unlikely GJ would redshirt.
Percentage chance GJ redshirts: 10%
Mangisto Arop- Manny represents what I think will be the most difficult decision that the staff will have to make next year. I don't know if there is a guy who would be better served having a year to improve his and get comfortable with a different set of rules then Manny. In fact, this opinion was voiced during our recent chat by BuffZag.
but I just don’t know if we can wait for him. He’d be SO good with a year of US style under his wing.
The problem with Manny is that even though he would benefit immensely from a year to improve, his athleticism and length are nearly impossible to keep on the bench for the season. There is no doubt that the day Manny steps foot on campus, he will immediately become the best defender on the team, as well as the best rebounding guard on the team. It will be nearly impossible for Coach Few to keep that potential on the bench for a full season, especially if Steven struggles with his expanded role. While Manny might not be the best offensive player on the team, he can get to the rim and draw fouls with the best of them, so I don't think it would be similar to a guy like Larry Gurganious, who was such a liability on offense, the staff couldn't put him on the court. So even though he might be the guy who would benefit most from the redshirt year, it seems increasingly unlikely to me he will redshirt, and you can completely toss out the idea if Bol Kong isn't able to play.
Percentage chance Manny redshirts: 20%
Sam Dower- Whether or not Sam redshirts will come down to how much Andy and Will have improved since the end of last season. If Andy and Will can compliment Elias and Rob, then the staff already has a good core of four guys who can rotate at the PF and C position. This would allow for Sam to take a year to improve his strength and continue to mature his offensive game. Sam would definitely benefit from this, and this would allow for him to be an absolute beast when he is a redshirt freshman. However, if Andy or Will has not made the necessary strides, Sam might be thrust into the rotation from day one. Even with his lack of strength, Sam has the ability to score the ball because of his quick lefty hook, and his ability to shoot the ball from as deep as the three point line. He might struggle in the post as a freshman, especially when playing some of the more physical teams on the schedule, but for this team to be successful, there must be a post rotation of four guys. There is no doubt that the staff would love to have the option to redshirt Sam, as he is still years away from reaching his ultimate potential. Sam has already added lots of weight and strength since arriving on campus, but the thought of having a full year for him to continue to add to his frame has to appeal to the coaches. Ultimately, it will come down to how much Andy and Will can contribute this season, and hopefully it's enough to make the staff feel comfortable with redshirting Sam.
Percentage chance Sam redshirts: 50%
Kelly Olynyk: I just can't envision any situation that doesn't have Kelly Olynyk using his redshirt next year. Kelly possesss a brilliant combination of size and skill, but he lacks the strength to allow for that combination to flourish against DI competition. As we saw at the FIBA championships, Kelly struggled against the top competition at that tournament. Many of the shots he was able to get off against the weaker competition in BC became much more contested and difficult when playing top athletes. Not only could Kelly benefit by adding strength, but the year off would also allow for Kelly to figure out how to score against better athletes, and get him more comfortable using ball fakes and step backs. While I still think the comparison is a little off, Kelly would benefit from watching tape of Austin Daye, just to see how he created space against defenders. With the depth at the wings, there is really no need to push Kelly into the rotation this year. This team shouldn't have a problem getting points, and that would be the one aspect of the game Kelly might be able to contribute with early on. It's in the best interest of Kelly for him to have the redshirt year to get comfortable and improve his strength for the marathon that most Gonzaga schedule are.
Percentage chance Kelly redshirts: 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999%
What do you guys think? Who would you like to see use his redshirt next year?