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Gonzaga vs. Thompson Rivers game preview: BASKETBALL IS FINALLY BACK


James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Alright gang. It has been a long offseason. As a baseball fan, I was treated to one of the more glorious Seattle Mariners' campaigns in a long while and also got to watch my family enjoy the idea of the Kansas City Royals in the World Series for the first time since 1985. It was a good season.

Now it is time to segue into a Gonzaga team that is going to be very good. Or at least that is what everyone keeps on telling us. On paper, this is one of the most loaded and balanced Gonzaga squads in recent memory. Of course, paper is something we write on and recycle, it doesn't win game. Mark Few has an uber talented squad, and his toughest act this year will be figuring out how to maximize the efficiency of all of his great players, while getting them the minutes they need.

Because if Few and company can do this, and the team stays healthy, the ceiling is huge. Everyone and their mothers are picking Kentucky to win the whole thing. That doesn't mean the Bulldogs can't make a deep run into March at the end of this season and finally shake some of those demons that haunt the team every spring.

First things always come first. Get through the regular season. There are some big games on the way coming up, and the Bulldogs get one tune-up before Southern Methodist rolls into town.

Meet the opponent

Thompson Rivers WolfPacks

Often times, I think to myself who the hell are these poor saps that are taking part in the exhibition game. The WolfPack have a connection to Gonzaga, however. The school's athletic director is none other Ken Olynyk. As you probably guessed by his unique name, Mr. Olynyk happens to be the father of esteemed Gonzaga graduate Kelly Olynyk. You want your reason for why the game is on the schedule -- there you go.

This team shouldn't necessarily be the pushover that previous exhibition games have been. The WolfPack bring three fifth-year seniors into the mix for a solid group of veteran leadership in Tallon Milne, Brett Rouault and Brett Parker.

Josh Wolfram is the inside threat, averaging 13.4 points and grabbing 7.9 rebounds per game, but like most humans in the college realm, gives up quite a bit of height and weight to Przemek Karnowski.

What to watch out for

The answer to that question is basically -- everything! There is a lot of intrigue going into this season. Karnowski, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell are all major players from last season, but they are just three-fifths of the starting rotation. There has been a lot of intrigue on the scoring abilities of USC transfer Bryon Wesley. We've seen an endless stream of articles detailing the growth of Kyle Wiljters game and it'll be time to finally see how he an Karnowski perform together.

The Bulldogs have some stellar recruits coming in to back up Pangos and Bell. It will be very interesting to see how Perkins and Melson handle their minutes -- and how many minutes they get early in the season. Where will Kyle Dranginis and Angel Nunez fit into the rotation? What about Bryan Alberts?There are a lot of question marks this year, many of them good question marks.

Then again, this is an exhibition game that will be as pre-season as it gets. It is a little hard to take very much away from the game in the form of hard takes. So the big thing to watch out for will be chemistry. On paper, the team has the skill and the talent to compete with the best. The Bulldogs will need the chemistry to come out on top.

The season is finally here. Let's buckle up for the ride.

Time: 6 p.m. PT