Heading into last season, the point guard position for Gonzaga was a bit of a black hole. Demetri Goodson left the program last May to pursue a football career at Baylor University and that left the Zags with David Stockton as the only true returning point guard on the roster. While some of us (myself included) were wondering if Marquise Carter could shoulder some of the load at point guard, others were cautiously optimistic that incoming freshman Kevin Pangos could rise to the occasion as a freshman and run point for the Zags. Simply put, Pangos was exceptional in his freshman campaign. Not only did he rise up and provide steady play at the point guard position, he led the Zags in minutes, points, assists, and steals per game last season. He instantly became one of the biggest stories on the West Coast and earned a number of accolades, including WCC Newcomer of the Year. Whereas the guard spots last year were full of question marks, heading into this season they are a tremendous strength and the development of Pangos at the point is the number one reason for that.
The cast of characters this season that will see a majority of the time at point guard is exactly the same as last year. Let's take a look at their stat lines (all stats are on a per game basis)
Kevin Pangos: Started 32/33 games, 31.6 Minutes, 13.6 Points, 3.4 Assists, 1.2 Steals 1.8 Turnovers
David Stockton: Started 1/33 games, 16.8 Minutes, 3.7 Points, 2.4 Assists, 0.8 Steals 1.5 Turnovers
The overview for this position is, well, pretty darn boring to be completely honest. The two major contributors at point guard are back and we don't expect there to be any newcomers making waves. Just to note, I'd expect Kyle Dranginis to see limited, if any, minutes at the point guard spot. He will likely spell Gary Bell and Guy Landry Edi at the other backcourt positions. In terms of minutes, the distribution should be pretty similar with Pangos playing low-to-mid thirty minute games. Due to Dranginis' presence, Stockton will likely see fewer minutes because the amount of time Pangos and Stockton spend on the court together will be reduced. That said, worst case would see Stockton playing 10 or so minutes per game.
The outlook for the point guard spot is incredibly bright. Many expect Kevin Pangos to grow into one of the top point guards in the country. Last season, Pangos exceeded any and all expectations set by even the most unreasonable fan. As I said above, his stat line was outstanding and perhaps even more impressive was the way he carried himself. After a couple games, Pangos no longer looked like a freshman running point for a perennial power, instead he looked like a seasoned vet that had a clear understanding of the game around him. In year #2, Pangos will be striving for consistency. The two major areas where Pangos needs to add a bit more consistency is perimeter shooting and creating for his teammates. A common critique for Pangos last season was that he forced shots. To be totally honest, I was typically pleased with the looks he decided to take, the question moving forward will be 'do I need to take this shot'? With very talented offensive players around him, including a new center that is offensively advanced, Pangos has the opportunity to further improve his playmaking ability. After watching Demetri Goodson shy away from numerous open shot attempts, I wouldn't dream of asking Pangos to shoot less; but I do think he will be looking to distribute a bit more this season.
With David Stockton backing up Pangos, the Zags have a guy that is extremely familiar with the program and Mark Few. The everlasting concern with David is on the defensive side. With Kyle Dranginis fresh off a redshirt and expected to contribute, I do think that his presence will mean fewer means for Stockton. We saw Mark Few employ the three-guard lineup quite a bit last year with Pangos, Stockton, and Bell and it got exploited from time to time when opponents had athletic guards. With Dranginis in the fold, I would be surprised to not see quite a bit of Pangos, Bell, and Dranginis at the same time. Having said this, Stockton is still a valuable contributor. He averaged 2.5 assists in 17 minutes last year and does a nice job spelling Pangos. He had a couple games where he got a bit turnover crazy but for the most part, Stockton is a nice option for Few to have.
Overall, I don't really expect any Zag fans to be concerned about the point guard position, no matter how pessimistic you may be. Not only do I expect Pangos to be the best point guard in the conference, I would not be surprised if he finished off the season in the discussion as one of the best point guards in the nation. If he can build off last season and limit unforced errors, the sky is truly the limit for the Canadian point guard.