Under normal circumstances, the thought of two players transferring away from Gonzaga in less than a week would send me running for the hills. If you have been around the blog for the past few days, you probably have noticed that it has drawn very limited coverage from Max and I. This has been for a couple of reasons. One, because we've both been traveling (sorry), and two, because these transfers have honestly done nothing to shake our confidence. In fact, it sort of makes me pleased because it really does clear the way for a fresh look at the 2010-11 season. When Gonzaga signed Marquise Carter and Keegan Hyland, we all wondered what Mark Few was going to do with all these guards. I'm not going to pretend to know whether Mark Few recruited because he knew they were leaving or because he wanted better players but it was clear their was a disconnect with GJ and Grant. Now that they are gone, we have two new players to look forward to seeing in action, a few new scholarships to play with in the loaded 2010 class, and a short, succinct, talented, and dedicated roster of players to lead Gonzaga into the future.
So yes, if you are wondering, I couldn't be happier.
When most people hear the word "transfers" (plural) it freaks them out. Multiple transfers in one season can sometimes indicate trouble within a program. However, in this instance, when you are dealing with players that rarely left the bench, nothing could be further from the truth. I'm actually a bit stunned that some of the opinions I have read have indicated that this program is in trouble or unstable because three non-contributors decided to leave the program to find somewhere they can get more minutes and improve their game. All these transfers have indicated to me is that Grant Gibbs and GJ Vilarino have hopes for their basketball dreams and those were not getting fulfilled at Gonzaga. That's it. Can you blame them? Both Gibbs and Vilarino were recruited by a number of high major programs and looking at Gonzaga's depth chart in the next few seasons, the writing was on the wall that they should probably explore other options because minutes might not come the way they want them to here.
Now that we've got the transfers out of the way, let me tell you why I am ecstatic about how Gonzaga lines up for next season and beyond. If you have been around the blog for a while, you have probably picked up that I am not a fan of a big rotation. Eight players getting consistent minutes is ideal for me and I think we have seen some extremely talented teams in the past few years fall apart because there are simply not enough minutes (and basketballs) to go around. Gonzaga now has a talented and tidy backcourt to go along with a very powerful and praiseworthy front court. The idea of Meech, GJ, and Marquise battling all year for minutes at PG and then Steven, Manny, Grant, Keegan, and Bol all fighting it out for the rest of the backcourt minutes did not sit well with me. Now you have Meech and Marquise at the point (Marquise can slide around a bit) and then Steven and Manny getting consistent minutes at the other guard spot. This is assuming Elias moves to the three, Bol rotates at the three/four spot, and Keegan Hyland is used more sporadically early on before settling into consistent minutes. As much as I love the competition that GJ and Grant would have provided, I think there are times when strength in numbers can turn into a teams biggest weakness and it is clear that the staff knew what direction they wanted to go and everything fell into place from there.
The basis for my happiness stems from the fact that I believe in all the players Mark Few has now assembled at Gonzaga...all of them. I still believe in Demetri Goodson and I believe Marquise Carter is a perfect sub for him and is a guy that will push him for every minute he gets. GJ's transfer indicates that Mark Few still believes that Demetri can run this team with great success. I believe Steven will be consistent, that Manny will surprise everyone on the offensive side, and that Keegan will give this team an option from the outside and will stretch the floor for the talented slashers and post players Gonzaga has. I believe that Bol Kong will take this summer by the horns and get into shape and become the player that we saw glimpses of early on last season. I also believe that our frontcourt is one of, if not the, best in the country. I know many of you don't believe in some of these players I mentioned but I urge you to give them another year to change your mind. The one's who have draw the most discussion have been Meech, Bol, and a few others and the great thing is that they still have time to prove why they have garnered their accolades and why Mark Few believes in them
The last reason I look at these transfers positively if because it gives us new freedom with scholarships. Believe it or not, there are still players whom Mark Few (and Tommy Lloyd) are recruiting for 2010. What this also does is that it frees up another spot for the 2011 class which as you all know, is very talented (especially in Portland, Oregon at the power forward spot. Hint Hint). A week ago the Zags were buried with guards. Now, we sit with scholarships to throw around and many talented players to throw them at. We can address our needs (BIG) with the next few classes rather than trying to play catch up and fit guys in the wrong spot. The best part of the whole equation as that we have one of the best international recruiters (Tommy Lloyd) and one of the best domestic recruiters (Donny Daniels) to see that these scholarships are used wisely and with a clear purpose.
Thus, believe me when I say that the future remains very, very bright.