While much of the discussion this preseason has been about the question marks at the point guard position heading into the season, I think that the most most pressing issue is what can this team consistently expect from Robert Sacre. Sacre possesses the body and the build of a player that should be dominate at this level of competition. He has a decent array of post moves and typically is able to get good position on his defender when he is in the post. Despite possessing all of these qualities that should make him a potential NBA player, Sacre seems to be missing some quality that hinders him from putting everything together.
The reason that Sacre is so important heading into this season is because he can provide key depth to what has the potential of being one of the deepest and most talented frontcourt groups in the country.In order for guys like Samuel Dower, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris to reach their full potential and provide the variety of weapons that this team needs to be a Final 4 contender, Sacre must provide a consistent threat on both ends of the court while providing the vocal leadership to the younger guys on the team.
In order for Rob to reach his considerable potential, it's imperative that he increases the speed that he plays at. This is a rather odd statement to write, as you often hear that a certain player needs to slow down, but in the case of Sacre, I believe the exact opposite is necessary. There is no excuse for Sacre to not be completely comfortable and confident with the offense at this point in his career, so he should be able to know where he belongs and have a sense for which post-move he is going to use in certain offensive situations. The hope would be that if he is more prepared and comfortable with his role in the offense, then there shouldn't be the slow decision making with the ball in his hands.
The other area that Rob must improve on this season is his rebounding. There is truly no excuse for a guy with his size and strength to average only 5.4 rebounds per game. In fact, Sacre only reached double-figures in rebounds in two games this past season. As I have written before on this blog, I truly believe that rebounding comes down to positioning and instincts. With Coach Daniels working with the different post options on the team, I expect to see better positioning and proper technique when it comes to boxing out and rebounding. If Rob can show the ability to control the paint and dominate on the boards it will limit offensive rebound opportunities for the opponent and should decrease the amount of points this team allows.
At this point in his career, I like the idea of what Robert Sacre can be more than I like what I have seen. If I could play the role of Dr. Frankenstein and create what I think my ideal collegiate center should look like, he would probably look a lot like Rob. However, this season will be vital to his career, as it will show whether he has any of the instincts and natural basketball IQ to be more than a big body. The optimist in me wants to believe that after spending the past three years getting acclimated to the system and developing his individual game, that this is the year we see it all come together for Rob. If he can make the strides that I have discussed throughout this post, all of a sudden this Gonzaga team has potentially the deepest and most talented frontcourt in the history of the program.