It was a long offseason, ladies and gentlemen. With transfers in and out of the program, big time commits, and head scratching recruiting developments, this offseason has had it all. Today, however, marks the beginning of our look towards next season. Can you believe that we are now under 50 days away from the start of the regular season? That's right. 50 days from now, you will hopefully be reading our postgame victory recap over Southern Utah. Between now and then, we will provide you with plenty of coverage to get you ready for this coming season.
With that said, let's start off by introducing everyone to some of the new faces that will be hitting the floor for the Bulldogs. First up is Memphis transfer Drew Barham. Drew was a piece of a very, very busy June for Gonzaga. Between June 11th and June 15th, Gonzaga added Providence transfer Gerard Coleman, lost wing Mathis Monninghoff, and added Barham. It was a whirlwind that wound up being a net gain for the Bulldogs but, for the most part, folks still are not quite sure how to understand the addition of Drew Barham.
As we outlined when Drew came aboard, his addition is one that was simply meant to add depth at a wing position that was decimated over the offseason. Reserve guard/wings Mathis Monninghoff and Mathis Keita left the program over the summer meaning that the only true wings remaining on the roster were Guy Landry Edi and walk-on Mike Hart. While he's likely not going to blow up and take over games, let's dive in a bit more on what Barham means for the Zags.
As most of you know, Barham made his way to Gonzaga from the University of Memphis where he was coming off a redshirt season. In his first two seasons at Memphis, he played sparingly, averaging 5 and 7 minutes per game. He started 10 games in his sophomore season and appeared in 27. He averaged about two points and two rebounds per game in his final playing year at Memphis.
Having graduated from Memphis is just three years and redshirting his final year, Barham enters Gonzaga with two years of eligibility. While many are expecting him to simply add depth, the one position that is still questionable on this roster is the wing position. Guy Landry Edi is the incumbent for the Zags at this point in time but neither he nor Mike Hart were consistently stellar last season for the Bulldogs. While I wouldn't expect Barham to challenge for a starting role, the point is that there are absolutely minutes available should he perform well.
A great attribute that Barham has that could keep him on the court is his ability to get hot from the outside. While his stats were never dazzling at Memphis from beyond the arc, there were several games in which he got hot and made some key three point jumpers for the Tigers. He came out of high school (he actaully attending Souther Illinois prior to Memphis) with the reputation as being a big time outside shooter. If he can once again find that groove, the staff could see big returns on their very low risk investment. The constant issue for shooters that are forced to come off the bench, however, is that they are often relied on to make shots 'cold' meaning that they have no time to get into the flow of the game. Mathis Monninghoff struggled mightily with this prior to his departure.
As we look towards this coming season, a 'battle' to watch will be between Drew Barham and Mike Hart. With Kyle Dranginis likely spelling Gary Bell at the shooting guard position and David Stockton backing up Kevin Pangos at point, the logical backups for Landy Edi will be Barham and Hart. I doubt either player really separates themselves from the other and it is likely they get similar minutes per game. The key in this 'battle' will be whichever one is less of an offensive liability. While we all loved Mike Hart's effort last season, watching him on offense was brutal at times. If Barham can continue to hit the glass like he did at Memphis and play good defense, he could be the primary backup because he does seem to have some offensive abilities.
While the small forward position won't be the focal point of this team, each of the players competing for minutes fit in very nicely with what the overall goal of the team is. This is a team that is going to pound the ball inside with Eliar Harris, Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk, and Przemek Karnowski. The other focal point will be, what I consider to be an elite backcourt combo of Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos. The wing position on this team is meant to do the little things, score when needed, and bust ass on defense and on the glass. Drew Barham should be a guy that the staff can rely on to do those things.