Let's be honest - when Kraziness in the Kennel rolls around every year, it is virtually impossible to sit here and say "Oh, well, this will be an ok season. Nothing special, but ok". So, I'll bite. Saturday afternoon, the residents of Spokane, Washington - the ones that are able to snag a seat before the McCarthey Athletic Center fills up, will get a first glimpse of what could be a truly special Gonzaga Bulldogs team. The event kicks off at 4pm pacific with the doors opening at 3pm. Per the official release, the event will include a three-point contest, a dunk contest, and will close with a scrimmage.
There's a ton to be excited about as we inch closer to another season of Gonzaga hoops. More than anything, however, Kraziness will be dominated by headlines about Gonzaga's loaded crop of newcomers. Seven, count them, seven newcomers will show their skills on Saturday afternoon. Two of the seven are odds on favorites to be in the starting lineup when the season officially kicks off in November. Headlining the group is Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer. The near-Zag out of high school transferred to Gonzaga the summer before last season and, by all reports, had an outstanding redshirt season. While it is pointless to draw parallels to Kelly Olynyk - all eyes will surely be on the silky smooth forward from Oregon to replace Sam Dower.
While Wiltjer is most lauded of the group, USC transfer Byron Wesley may fill the biggest need on the Bulldogs roster. For years, Mark Few has struggled to bring in a true small forward with outstanding slashing ability and Wesley is his latest attempt. A year ago, he averaged 18 points per game for the lackluster Trojans and he'll likely step into the backcourt alongside Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell. With all this said, it will be interesting to see how 'comfortable' Wesley looks on Saturday. Backcourt transfers have historically had a tough time adjusting to Few's system and earning his trust. Since Wesley just has one season to do so, many eyes will be on him to see if he can buck the recent trend.
The transfer talent is obviously incredible on paper but, personally, the main excitement is for this freshmen class. On paper, the group is led by Colorado point guard Josh Perkins and Lithuanian forward Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis and Perkins are joined by Oregon guard Silas Melson and California wing Bryan Alberts. We've covered Perkins an excessive amount on the site and he's expected to be the heir apparent to Kevin Pangos at the point guard position. Domantas Sabonis will likely make a huge impact right away behind Przemek Karnowski and Kyle Wiltjer. Silas Melson might wind up being the best of the bunch - the explosive athlete can score from anywhere on the floor and has turned heads in Spokane. Alberts is the most unknown of the bunch but he's a steady wing that can really shoot the ball and will be a solid contributor during his time at Gonzaga.
Kind of unreal that I went through four paragraphs without even discussing Gary Bell, Kevin Pangos, and the rest of the veteran talent but that is what these type of events are all about - showing off the fresh new talent. It should be a great event so get there early, cheer loud, and enjoy the kick off of another season of Gonzaga hoops.