The long national nightmare is over. The start of college basketball is here. Don’t fret everyone, we can all take solace in knowing that Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball starts tomorrow. The Zags will kick it off against the Utah Valley Wolverines, the first ever meeting between the two schools.
What do we know about Utah Valley? My guess is not much. So let’s do a big of digging on this team.
Meet the opponent
The Wolverines went 12-18 last season, and finished fifth in the WAC with a 6-8 record. You think Gonzaga has a lot of new faces on their squad? Check out Utah Valley, who are welcoming 11 new players to the ranks. Because of that, it is a bit hard to do too much investigating, but we can try our best.
Utah Valley only returns starters Ivory Young (9.0 pts, 2.4 reb) and Andrew Bastien (3.1 pts, 4.2 reb) from last season’s starters. Last season, the Wolverines would have been a great test for the Zags, but in losing Jaden Jackson, Konner Frey, and Marcel Davis, they also lost approximately 60 percent of their scoring.
That said, Young isn’t a bad player. He led Utah Valley from three-point range last season, hitting 37.7 percent of his shots. Bastien led the Wolverines in blocks with 33. The Zags will also have to keep an eye out for junior forward Zach Nelsen. He was picked in the preseason as all-WAC second team after getting a medical redshirt last season. In the 2014-15 season, he was a workhorse, averaging 11 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
What to watch out for
Simple answer: everything.
This is the first game of the season. Things looked sloppy like they always do in the exhibition because it is an exhibition. Is this team going to play at a high tempo the whole time? Can this team communicate on defense? Can they communicate on offense? There is a lot of question marks, and they will only get answered as the season progresses.
For now, clear out those Friday night plans and let’s relish in the start of college hoops.