It is remarkably clear from my early attitude at work that I am not ready to discuss the conclusion of the 2014-15 season quite yet. As usual, when the basketball season ends, I am overcome by several emotions:
- Grief that we will not longer have the departing seniors (multiplied by 100x this year)
- Generally upset over how abrupt the tournament can be and how quickly everything can change
- Summer sports depression (i.e. baseball starting and having to hear about the same NFL story over and over and over)
With that said, we are going to do everything in our power to keep the Gonzaga basketball news pipeline as rich and fertile as possible.
I plan to sit down this evening and write my final thoughts on the Duke game but, for the time being, let's look ahead to some of the fun stuff that awaits next season.
A few things that jump out for me:
Assuming no departures, this is a silly frontline
While we have no idea who will return and who won't from any team, it is hard to say that this group would be behind any in the country for top frontline. Przemek Karnowski, Domas Sabonis, Kyle Wiltjer, and Ryan Edwards are all slated to return next season. Angel Nunez was granted another year of eligibility but there are rumors that he will transfer.
The redshirts come off
Gonzaga was dealt a huge blow early in the season when Josh Perkins was sidelined with a broken jaw against Georgia in the Preseason NIT. Assuming Perkins is granted a medical redshirt, he will return next season with four years of eligibility along with Bryan Alberts. Ryan Edwards, aka baby Karnowski, will return as a sophomore. Perkins will likely step into the starting lineup as the point guard for this Bulldogs team and both Alberts and Edwards will be valuable role players.
It will likely be a busy summer
Gonzaga will be active this offseason in the 2015 recruiting / transfer market. 2015 SG prospect Tyson Jolly will visit Spokane the weekend of April 17th. Jolly has a host of high major offers and will visit Cal the weekend before. The Bulldogs have three open scholarships to fill if they like and I would expect them to try and do so, whether domestically or internationally because there are 5 seniors scheduled to depart after next year (4 if Nunez transfers early)
Early guesses at the starting lineup
This is very tricky if all of Gonzaga's frontline comes back. I have no idea how the staff keeps Sabonis on the bench this coming season as I think he is poised for a breakout season. That said, on DAY 1 of the season, this is how I think the Zags lineup:
PG: Josh Perkins
SG: Silas Melson
SF: Kyle Dranginis
PF: Kyle Wiltjer
C: Przemek Karnowski
Before I hear the "YOU ARE NUTS, NO WAY DOMAS COMES OFF THE BENCH!!!!", I would just say that there is 0% chance the Zags can play Wiltjer at the SF with his defensive issues. There's also no way Wiljter comes off the bench if he is back next year.
Early thoughts on this starting lineup
Extremely unknown. The gut reaction I get is fear for how the Bulldogs score on the perimeter. Losing Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell is extremely difficult and while I think Perkins and Melson have the potential to be outstanding, we just have no clue how they will respond. Perkins likes to get into the lane and we know Silas has the reputation as a solid scorer. I'm hopeful Kyle Dranginis can step into more of a scoring role and elevate himself from the "do it all guy" to become a legit threat but we will see.