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Rotation looks strong heading into 2010-2011

While there has been a little bit of shock among the Gonzaga fanbase since news of Bol Kong's departure began to emerge, the reality of the situation is that his departure will likely not have any impact on the upcoming season. In fact, the loss of Kong might even make establishing a nine-man rotation very easy for the coaching staff, with versatility and athleticism being the identity of the upcoming season.

Before I continue on with dissecting the rotation for next season, I just want to throw in my quick two cents about the departure of Kong. As anyone who has been a part of Gonzaga University, or even a fan of the school knows, being an athlete at the schools bears great responsibility. While losing a guy with the potential of Kong is difficult to stomach at this point, especially with the hype that surrounded his arrival, the Gonzaga program is much stronger and bigger than any of its individuals. Like Zach said before, I would like to wish Bol the best of luck with any of his future endeavors, and hopefully he finds a situation that is a better fit, both on and off the court.

Without Kong in the fold, I see a very clear nine-man rotation that could present the most athletic and "long" team that Gonzaga has offered in the past ten years. While we have had numerous debates on this site about the logistics and qualities of different rotation options, I think it's fairly cut-and-dry that this year will offer a nine-man rotation, with many guys able to play different positions. While I wouldn't categorize this lineup as experienced by any measure, I truly think that the potential is extraordinary. With all of that covered, here is how I would project the rotation to look:

PG: Demetri Goodson (20-25 mpg); Marquise Carter (15-20 mpg)

If you could combine these two guys into one person, you would have one of the most talented pg's in the country. However, with that option not possible, I still think this combination should produce an immediate improvement from last season. While I don't have any intention to get into a debate about the merits of Demetri Goodson at this point, I see no reason why we shouldn't expect improvement. In the one game where Meech was truly the PG on the court, which was the Battle in Seattle against Davidson, Goodson scored 22 points and looked tremendous pushing the tempo. With a higher comfort level with his teammates, as well as some improvement shooting from the field, I think Goodson should be a solid contributor offensively, while still providing solid defense.

While Goodson will provide a steady option defensively, I think Carter could be the scoring point guard that many Gonzaga fans are accustomed to seeing. He certainly does not possess the speed of Goodson, nor is he as quick, but Carter can score in a variety of ways and will provide a great scoring option off the bench. I certainly expect there to be certain situations where Carter will see the majority of minutes, but at this point I expect him to be an excellent scoring option off the bench.

SG: Steven Gray (28-30 mpg); Mathis Monninghoff (12-15 mpg)

I will never consider Steven Gray the ideal candidate to be a #1 option on a top team, which is why I think this season sets up perfectly for Gray. There is no questions that Elias Harris will be the primary option on offense, which will allow for Gray to pick his moments on the offensive end, while being a dominate defender on the perimeter. With the toughness and consistency that Gray demonstrated throughout the second-half of the season, I think he will be the perfect second-option for this team next season.

While I am excited about what Steven will bring during his senior year, I am equally excited about what Monninghoff will provide off the bench. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Monninghoff emerges as the 6th/7th man, while seeing significant minutes at both SG and SF. From what Zach and I have heard, Monninghoff is a Micah Downs clone, with an even more complete and developed offensive game. When you factor in the thought of Carter and Monninghoff providing scoring off the bench, it makes you quickly realize how talented this team can be on the offensive end.

SF: Mangisto Arop (20-25 mpg); Kelly Olynyk (8-12 mpg); Monninghoff (5-7 mpg)

With the way he played prior to his devastating foot injury in Las Vegas, it should come as no surprise that expectations are through the roof for Arop. By having guys like Harris, Sacre, and Gray in the starting lineup, Arop will be able to score within the flow of the offense, with his biggest impact likely coming through his rebounding and his defense. I think with Arop starting on the wing, there is no doubt that the trio of Goodson, Gray, and Arop will provide the best defensive perimeter group that Gonzaga has ever seen.

Another guy I expect to see a huge leap from is Kelly Olynyk. I genuinely hope that he will see some minutes on the perimeter this season, as I think he is most suited for the SF position. From what I have read on Twitter, and various reports we have heard, it seems that Olynyk has grown during the off-season. With his ability to score both on the perimeter and in the paint, combined with his excellent passing ability, I think Kelly will provide a tremendously valuable option off the bench at both the SF and PF position.

PF: Elias Harris (30-32 mpg); Kelly Olynyk (8-10 mpg)

Not since Adam Morrison has Gonzaga had a guy with the star-potential that Elias Harris possesses. After a tremendous freshman season, in which he averaged 14.9 points and 7.1 boards, there is no reason not to expect a spectacular season from Harris. Harris has the ability to dominate on the offensive end with his combination of size and athleticism. If he has been able to use his time with the German National Team to improve his offensive repertoire in the post, as well as become a stronger performance on the defensive end, Harris has the potential to be a 1st team All-American and a lottery pick in the 2011 draft.

While he will certainly see some time on the perimeter, I don't expect that Olynyk will only be an option on the perimeter. With his ability to take his defender away from the paint, Olynyk will open up the paint for both Rob Sacre and Sam Dower. If Olynyk can continue to add strength to his frame, he will be an incredibly difficult option to match up with at both the SF and PF position.

C: Rob Sacre (26-28 mpg); Sam Dower (12-14 mpg)

The continued improvement and growth of Rob Sacre will be one of the most important developments heading into the upcoming season. Sacre made an incredible jump in his sophomore season, averaging double-digits in points. The main area that Sacre must continue to grow is as a rebounder. Despite his strength and size, Sacre averaged only 5.4 boards per game. If he can add a couple of different moves to his post game, while also averaging around eight boards per game, this team will have unlimited potential.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sam Dower will provide an offensive impact from the second he steps on the court. Dower possesses the ability to score both in the block and from the perimeter. I would categorize Dower as the most skilled offensive post prospect since JP Batista. As a redshirt freshman, Dower will provide an excellent scoring option off the bench, while also using his size and passing ability to from a nice inside/outside game with guys like Harris and Olynyk.

Redshirt: Mathis Keita and Keegan Hyland

While I like the potential that both possess, I don't expect to see either making an impact next year. I have detailed how strong of an option I think Keita will be in a couple of years, but I just don't see much of a role for him this season with Monninghoff and Carter in the rotation. The same holds true with what to expect from Hyland. Working in Boston, I have heard from a couple of people that Hyland is a truly exceptional shooter, but is also a guy that needs some time to put on strength.