Get excited, folks. College basketball has arrived. Starting today, your 2012-13 Gonzaga Bulldogs can grace the floor of the McCarthey Athletic Center under the supervision of Mark Few. We have hit the downhill stretch. Today is practice, a week from tomorrow is Kraziness, and then before you know it, we will hit conference play (seriously, it goes that fast).
Without beating around the bush, expectations are very high for this squad. With returning veterans in the front court, a dynamic duo running the guard positions, and intriguing newcomers, many fans think the 2012-13 team has what it takes to finally break through and get past the Sweet Sixteen.
To get prepared for the season, I urge you to check out our "Hype Tracker" story stream where we will be posting all the various previews from around the Internet. So far, it seems like the fans are not the only one's with high expectations. CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander both selected the Zags into their Final Four and each national top 25 I have seen has the Zags comfortably ranked.
As we look forward to the season, I always like to look back at what has changed year over year. I would describe the feeling last preseason as tense. The guard position was very much up in the air, Guy Landry Edi was ruled out for the first eight games, and most were relying on an experienced front court to carry this team. This year, I would say that this is one of the more balanced teams in recent memory. My excitement for another year of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell truly can't be described and if Elias Harris picks up where he left off at the end of last year, he will shut up all the national writers saying he has regressed each year since he blew up as a freshman.
There are concerns, no doubt. Replacing Rob Sacre's vocal leadership and defense in the low post will be a major test. None of the returning Gonzaga bigs can call defense a strength so someone will have to step up. Elias improved as the year went on a season ago but quite a bit of the onus will rest on Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk, and newcomer Przemek Karnowski. With such talent offensively, it would be a shame if this group proved to be soft on the defensive end.
We'll obviously have much more as we get pumped for the start of the season. For now, pop on that Kennel Club shirt and get excited!