As much as we'd like to be in the McCarthey Athletic Center watching every practice before the season started, it is just not possible. If you've noticed the coverage (or lack there of) that Gonzaga has gotten in local press, you can bet that it is because Mark Few and the staff run things very close to the vest. EDZ and I in years past have tried to walk through the MAC using different paths only to be removed from viewing distance before things got physical! The good thing is that everyone, at least in Spokane, that wants to see the new look Gonzaga Bulldogs will be able to this Saturday at Kraziness in the Kennel. For now, we'll keep you going with everything we have learned about the players thus far from various reports.
Matt Bouldin: Matt's the least of our worries right now but will probably be the most of our worries when the season starts. Various reports with the Spokesman Review have shown Matt taking on a new leadership role with this team being that he is the elder statesmen of the bunch. He'll probably be, along with Steven Gray, the guy relied on to take the big shot during games and it'll be interesting to see how he goes about handling that pressure.
Will Foster: It feels like we have been saying the same thing throughout Will's career but it remains a mystery whether or not he'll be able to play quality minutes this season. Obviously you can't coach the type of size that Will brings to the table and his impact on the defensive side is impressive. However, with a team as young as this, Will can't continue to be as inept offensively as he has been throughout his career and expect to have a major role on this team. It's going to be very, very interesting to see when/if Coach Few trots will on the court against Michigan State.
Steven Gray: Rumors and tidbits we have heard about Steven Gray is all revolving around his leadership this season. Gonzaga fans know that Steven's demeanor on the court is best described as stoic and reserved and Coach Few has been quoted as saying that he is hoping to force Steven into a more active leadership role. Obviously a lot can be read into this but I don't think any Gonzaga fans expect to see Steven become more demonstrative on the court. As long as he leads by example and shows some consistency this season, that's all the leadership we'll need.
Rob Sacre: Rob has garnered probably the highest amount of praise in this short stint of practice and press coverage. He benefited from his first completely healthy summer and fall and Coach Few has been raving about him saying that if he stays healthy, he's bound to have a "great" season. EDZ and I are split on our expectations of Rob but no one can doubt that he is going to have to be darn near excellent for Gonzaga to get back to the tournament.
Meech Goodson: For taking over Jeremy Pargo's position for so many years, there hasn't been much discussion about Goodson and his progression from his freshman to sophomore year. Personally, I view this as a good thing because it means that his play has been steady and smooth which is exactly what is required from a Mark Few point guard. EDZ and I are not split whatsoever on what we expect from Goodson. Expectations are high for Meech after his heroics last season and I think he'll answer the call.
find out more about the new guys after the jump...
Andy Poling: Andy really benefited from his redshirt season a year ago. He was healthy for the entire year, he had his gluten allergy in line and was able to put weight on and more importantly, keep it on. The more and more I think about it, it appears that the staff is planning on using Andy off the bench as a slow down, fundamental type guy. Coach Leon Rice recently told the Spokesman that Andy is just a very smart player that always seems to be involved when good things happen and I think he'll provide a nice change of pace to this very athletic and hectic team.
Grant Gibbs: Grant has been practicing while dealing with a tweaked back so far in the fall. He has received little press other than discussions of his injury issues but I noted in a fanpost that Grant is going to be a solid back up probably at the shooting guard spot. Bouldin and Gray probably won't leave the game much but Grant should be able to provide a nice edge to this team with his brand of physical play. He's got great size and feel for the game.
Elias Harris: Elias appears to be taking Gonzaga U by storm. Andy Katz and the Spokesman Review both noted that he has been the most impressive youngster thus far in practice and that is thanks to his work with the German national team. Before arriving at Gonzaga, Elias was playing against some of the top competition from around the globe so playing college ball in America might be a culture shock but once he gets on the court, the game should really slow down for him. As we have kind of hinted at all summer long, it appears that the starting power forward job is his to lose.
Bol Kong: Once again complete rumor from the great sources of message board and Facebook but it appears that Bol was recently injured in practice. We are 100% sure on what happened so we won't speculate but it was an ankle injury that doesn't appear to be season-threatening or anything of that nature. In the same Andy Katz blurb that praised Elias Harris, he told Gonzaga fans to cool it on the hype of Bol saying that he will be a player down the line but it will take some time. An odd comment, but it is probably true that most Gonzaga fans have insane expectations on Bol. Going from not playing organized basketball for a year to running a Mark Few structured offense will take time.
Mangisto Arop: Manny's publicity has been cautioned with the reports that he has been wearing a protective boot on his foot outside of practice. Gonzaga's history with stress-related fractures is well documented and I think it is a wise move to put him in a boot considering all the basketball he has been playing over the past summer. Coach Leon Rice said that Manny is practicing at full-capacity so that is great news. He also commented that the great thing about Manny is that his best basketball is played when the pressure is on in game situations. Sounds like exactly what this team needs.
Sam Dower: Sam is currently my biggest question mark on the team because I am not sure if he will play this season and in what capacity. I feel like depending on where you look, people project that Sam will be a key contributor but then when you see some of the coaches comments about Sam's best basketball being down the line and how he and Kelly have been on again off again, you never know. The more I read from the Spokesman and other sources, I can imagine a scenario where Sam contributed quite a bit this season. Behind Elias it seems like he has been the more impressive youngster and maybe the most surprising. When Sam signed at Gonzaga he was still very raw and slender but from all indications, he has bulked up considerably.
GJ Vilarino: Much like Demetri Goodson, GJ's overall press has been limited. I think that he will step in nicely and fill the backup role at point guard and give Gonzaga some continuity at the position. Both Meech and GJ have an extra gear that should make the players on the court feel more comfortable no matter who is on the court. If Grant or even Matt was forced to play point this year, you have to think that the inexperience of the bigs would show because it would be hard to adjust from Meech's quickness and Matt/Grant's more restrained style of basketball.
Kelly Olynyk: Kelly is another guy that hasn't gotten a whole lot of press except when the coaches say that his best basketball is probably a few years down the line. I have swung and missed before when trying to analyze coachspeak but I feel like a redshirt season is coming down the pipe for Kelly Olynyk. Obviously this is based on Rob's health, Elias' progression, and whether or not they feel Will Foster can eat up minutes but I think many would agree that the best option for KO would be a year to add strength.