It might just be because this has been the busiest six months of my life but this is the first time where I feel as though a Gonzaga basketball season has ‘snuck up on me'. People tell me that things will move quicker as I get older and, well, I guess I will have to start believing them. For most Zag fans, present company included, Kraziness in the Kennel has a bit more meaning this year. Last season's all too early end to the season left most of us craving the start of something new and we finally can start the healing process and begin a year full of new hope.
While Kraziness is never an event worth getting too worked up over, there are so many new pieces this season that one can't help but be full of anticipation. The Zags, for all intents and purposes, will be establishing a new identity this fall as a number of key pieces from one of the best teams ever in Spokane are gone. Three guys that many fans would consider legendary Zags: Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, and Mike Hart will not be walking out the tunnel at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season. This team now belongs to the dynamic backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell. Along with veteran forward Sam Dower, they are expected to carry this program to another successful season. With that said, let's take a look at a few things that we should be watching at Kraziness tonight.
- The Big East Transfer Duo. Gerard Coleman made Gonzaga fans salivate as he dominated action in last year's Kraziness event. While slightly undersized for the role, Coleman is expected to be the third member of the backcourt at the small forward position. He is an elite offensive player with an incredible ability to get into the lane and finish. Should he be able to consistently hit jumpers, he could quickly become a focal point of the Gonzaga offense. While he won't be active until mid-year, Angel Nunez is another guy that should figure to have a major impact. Nunez' role is still a pretty large mystery but many expect him to play small forward when the Zags go big but also steal some minutes at the power forward spot when Mark Few looks to stretch the floor. An outstanding athlete, Nunez has all the potential in the world to be a fantastic contributor.
- The Maturation of Karo. If there is one guy most Zag fans are looking for to make a giant leap, it is the hulking Polish center. Przemek showed flashes of dominance last season but this year will be a completely different animal for him as he'll be relied on to play increasing minutes and he won't have the luxury of leaning on Harris & Olynyk. He has supreme offensive abilities and runs the court well. If he improved his conditioning and can stay out of foul trouble, Karnowski is a guy that can play at an All-American level.
- The New Guys. While the 2013 class won't go down in the record books in terms of Rivals or Scout rankings, there is still a lot of enthusiasm for Lucas Meikle and Ryan Edwards. Early reports indicate that Meikle is a strong candidate for a redshirt season but he showed excellent offensive ability in high school and, should he strengthen up this offseason, he could be a very solid Zag down the line. For Ryan Edwards, it is unlikely that he will have the luxury of a redshirt season even though it could also benefit him greatly. A center in a similar mold of Karnowski, Edwards is reportedly expected to get minutes this season in the frontcourt. He will be relied on to be serviceable and eat up minutes so that Dower and Karno can catch their breath but I would be shocked if he had a major impact on the score sheet.
- Drew Barham's Role. It seems odd to be featuring a player who was a bit of an afterthought when he transferred to Gonzaga. Like Ryan Edwards, we have heard that Barham may be playing some in the frontcourt out of necessity. A guy that can really stretch the floor, Barham showed the ability to come off the bench and hit some big shots but with the lack of depth in the frontcourt, he will be asked to round out his game a little more on both ends. Drew came to Gonzaga with the "I'll do whatever it takes" mentality and it will be interesting to see if these rumors come to fruition.
As we say when every Kraziness rolls around, just have fun with it. Reading into a scrimmage in October is not good for your health but it sure does feel good to have Gonzaga basketball back!