This Gonzaga team, more than any other team in recent memory, is plagued by inconsistency on the offensive end. There doesn't seem to be a bonafied clubhouse leader, and if the Zags are going to win this whole thing, someone needs to drag them kicking and screaming through Las Vegas.
Generally speaking, the best player on the team has won the WCC Tournament MVP. That means we see players like Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison, Ronny Turiaf and Derek Raivio win the award. The only exception to that rule is the 2011 season, where Marquise Carter came out of nowhere to lead the Zags to the win.
So the question before us, who will be the person to step up? Let's take a look at our possible candidates.
Wiltjer is the leading scorer on the team and the senior whose hands the ball ends up in the most in crunch time situations. He also won the MVP last season, averaging 18 points per game while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor. After a couple of rough games against Pacific and Saint Mary's, Wiltjer got back to his old ways against San Diego and BYU. He also has shown multiple times this season that he is capable of getting beyond hot for stretches in the seasonâhighlighted by three 30+ point efforts in January.
One of the big takeaways from the most recent episode of "Gonzaga: The March to Madness" was the interview with Sabonis, where he specifically said that he needs to be more of a leader in the locker room. Sabonis didn't start the season as the face of the team, but you can make a solid case that he is now. His play, especially since Przemek Karnowski went out with an injury, has reflected that. He is averaging 17.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, and few players show more energy and take over the game more visibly on the team. Sabonis has also dominated WCC play, notching a double-double in 13 of 18 conference games.
The gambler's risk
If Melson would be able to nab the WCC Tournament MVP, it would be a very deserving feather in the cap for surviving such a turbulent season. But right now, you can count Melson as a player who attends the Tom Izzo School of Peaking at the Right Time. Aside from his poor effort in Saint Mary's (which gets a pass because the entire team dumped out a poor effort), Melson has averaged 13.6 points per game and is shooting 61.1 percent from beyond the arc. His game against SMU was a huge bright spot in a dark time for the team, and Melson might just be peaking at the right time. If Gonzaga goes all the way, they are riding Sabonis and Wiltjer to make it there. But Melson might just be the spark to push the Zags past the finish line.
The blind dart at the wall
Here is the thing with Josh Perkins. We know he is a capable scorer, and we know he is able to take over games (or at least try to). We saw it against Santa Clara earlier this season, and again, more recently, against Saint Mary's at home. In the game against Saint Mary's, while the rest of the offense looked lost, Perkins was there trying to make sure instead of getting embarrassed we were just merely losing. He can put up some tremendous assist numbers as well, and, for the most part, has started to clean up his turnovers as of late.
The only issue with all of this, and also why Josh Perkins is the ultimate darkhorse in this presumptive MVP race: he doesn't take enough shots. Perkins has taken 10 or more field goal attempts only 10 times this season. We've seen it happen a little more as of late, with 18 FGA against Saint Mary's and 10 against San Diego. But he also doesn't slash to the rim too often. A lot of his shots are coming off of screens or three point attempts. With both Sabonis and Wiltjer pounding it out down low, Perkins isn't the number one scoring option on the team. Hell, he is hardly the number three scoring option. For Perkins to take home the trophy, it would require some gaudy assist numbers and an uptick in his scoring. The potential is there, the likelihood isn't.