One of the huge benefits of the State of Gonzaga chat was being able to discuss the biggest question marks that hang over the upcoming season of Gonzaga basketball. Today, we are kicking off a series in which we will do our best to answer these huge questions that the team faces heading into next year. Obviously, many of the questions wont be answered until the entire team is on campus together and competition begins, but being able to speculate on topics is the best part of the Summer. In Part II of this series, we will look at the question of Who should we expect from Rob Sacre?
It's hard for me to remember any individual player who drew such contrasting expectations from Gonzaga fans then Rob Sacre. Guys like Austin Daye and Jeremy Pargo might have caused a divide because of their attitudes or style of play, but for the most part, people shared similar expectations for both. However, as evidenced in our chat last week, people have very different expectations for Rob Sacre this upcoming season. Some fans seem to think that Rob will never be much of an offensive threat, and that this might open up the door for a guy like Sam Dower to come in and contribute immediately. Others seem to think that Rob will have a breakout season, and be a double-double kind of player throughout the remainder of his offensive career. At this point, I personally fall in the middle of the two ideas, yet I think that is perfect for what the team will need for Rob this upcoming season.
In order to have proper expectations for Rob next season, it's important to understand exactly what type of role he will have. Unless Coach Few puts out a very strange lineup, Rob will always be behind Matt, Steven, Elias, and Bol as an option in the offense. This isn't necessarily a knock on Rob, but instead focuses on the fact that Gonzaga will have numerous guys who can score the basketball at any given time on the court. With this established, it's fair to assume that Rob will likely be at best, the 3rd scoring option when he is on the court, and more often than not, the 4th option. Equally important is the fact that Rob has yet to demonstrate what type of offensive threat he can be. With Josh, you had a 6'11 guy that liked to float to the perimeter, and had his greatest success as a face-up big. Going back to J.P Batista, who was arguably the best Gonzaga post scorer I have sees, he had his success as a back to the basket big. What this shows is that both styles of play can have success in the flex offense, and the quicker that Rob establishes himself, the more success he will be able to have.
At this point, I think it's fair to assume that Rob is likely to be more of a back to the basket type big. However, for him to succeed on the offensive end, there needs to be a huge growth in the quickness that he makes his move in the post, as well as a genuine improvement in his hands. One of the must frustrating aspects of watching Rob as a freshman was that he would miss a chance to score, because instead of immediately making a move when receiving the ball, he would instead slow down and think about what he was doing. While that probably worked in British Columbia, that immediately makes you an offensive liability at the DI level. Since he hadn't played against top competition for over a year (Rob was part of a tournament with the Canadian National Team this summer), I have to believe that this is something that has been addressed. In no way does Rob have to become J.P. Batista Part II (although if he does, you are looking at a top 5 pick), but he must be enough of a threat with his back to the basket that he can keep the defenders honest.
As strange as it may sound, Rob can easily average 13-15 points with one go-to post move. With guys like Meech, Matt, Steven, Bol, GJ, and Manny out on the perimeter, Gonzaga will have one of its best slashing teams in recent memory. Therefore, Rob should get numerous open looks from when a guy like Meech attacks the paint and draws away Rob's defender. All that leaves for Rob is the need to catch the ball, and finish at the rim with a vicious dunk. It's reasonable to think that Rob should get 6-8 points a game just from catching passes in the paint from slashing guards. If we take the lesser number I just suggested, that puts Rob at an easy six points per game. Another area where Rob can convert easy buckets is on the offensive glass. Even in limited minutes, Rob has shown that he is a terrific rebounder and competitor in the post. Over the course of 25-28 minutes per game, Rob should be able to pull down a handful of offensive rebounds. In doing so, it's reasonable to think that he can score four points per game just from put-backs and tips on the offensive glass. That immediately puts Rob in double figures without even taking in to account the points he should score from the free throw line very night, as well as the numbers he can get from having an established post move. It's not unreasonable to think that Rob could average around 15 points, to go along with what should be 7-10 rebounds per game.
Those might seem like incredibly lofty expectations for a guy that has yet to prove much at this level. However, all that it takes for Rob is be successful with this team is the ability to finish the easy looks he will get, and the energy and hustle to do the dirty work on the the glass. Honestly, I even found myself a little bit surprised as I began to add up the numbers that I thought Rob could have, but it seems to me that it would take an epic collapse on the part of Rob NOT to put together a double-double nearly every time he steps foot on the court.
What do you guys think? Have I put too much expectations on Rob? Am I making too much of the easy looks he will get from our guards?