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Fitting Ryan Edwards into this puzzle

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Big Country couldn’t make the most of his minutes last year, and that’ll make it hard to crack the lineup this season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Seton Hall vs Gonzaga Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There are certain truths in life, and one of them is the old coach’s saying: you can’t teach seven feet.

That isn’t to say the only reason that Ryan Edwards is on Gonzaga is because he is seven feet tall (with an extra inch in case he shrinks). You don’t walk on to a perennial top 25 team unless you can flat out ball, so we know that there is the skill in Edwards.

And at times, last season, he did showcase it. The Zags were forced to use Edwards probably a bit more than they expected, and there were some glimpses of why he is useful in there. In 14 minutes against San Diego, he finished with 10 points. But those useful games were a bit few and far between, because Edwards constantly limited himself with foul trouble.

Edwards was far from the most prolific fouler in college hoops, but he was most definitely the most prolific fouler on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Last season, Edwards averaged 1.7 fouls per game. Extrapolate that number over 40 minutes, and Edwards somehow stays in the game despite committing eight fouls per game. The next player closest to him on the squad: Dustin Triano at 5.8 per game.

The issue with Edwards is that he isn’t a bad basketball player; he just fouls a whole hell of a lot. This means that even when there are minutes that desperately need to be filled, like there were last year in the frontcourt, Edwards isn’t the most dependable player to fill them.

That is a massive bummer, because last year would’ve been the year for Edwards to demonstrate to the coaching staff he deserves a chunk of minutes. Unfortunately, as it stands this year, he has Zach Collins, Johnathan Williams III, Przemek Karnowski and Killian Tillie standing in the way. There are still minutes for Edwards in there, no doubt. But after bumping up his average to 8.7 minutes per game last season, it is hard to see Edwards replicating that court time.

As it stands right now, the Zags have five players for a frontcourt that will most likely stand two deep, unless Few randomly decides that Tillie has the lateral quickness to guard the three spot. Most likely, Edwards’ minutes will come, but they will come at the expense of foul trouble or injury. Hopefully, this season, he will be able to make the most out of them.