If there is one thing we could say about Kyle Dranginis' career at Gonzaga, it is this.
Kyle Dranginis ends his Gonzaga career #1 in Wins & Games, #13 in Steals, #15 in Assists, & #19 in 3's. Thanks Kyle! pic.twitter.com/M2dJKmY8MX— Gonzaga Guru (@ZagsGuru) March 26, 2016
Welcome to one of your new Mr. Gonzaga's, of which the company is a lot of folks.
Dranginis is the unsung hero on every team. He is the player getting the loose balls. He is that player hitting the random three late in the game, and only after the game is over do you realize how big of a momentum shift it is.
He averaged a career high 31.2 minutes per game and he did it in the quietest way possible. He averaged a career high 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and he did all of this while only turning the ball over once per game. On a team of uber-efficient offensive powerhouses like Kyle Wiltjer (120.3) and Domantas Sabonis (120.0), Dranginis was right behind at 119.7, per Ken Pomeroy.
You look at his box score's of the year, and very few things stand out. Because guys like Dranginis never stand out. They blend in so much you think that the Zags only have four players on the court. Take his game against Connecticut: seven points, eight rebounds and five assists. That is a nice and solid game from Kyle. Then take a look at what we wrote about him in that game.
Kyle Dranginis graduated from the all-glue guy to the rubber cement guy. He was the gorilla glue guy. He was the super glue guy. He was the mashing atoms together in the Hadron Collider guy. With one minute left, and Gonzaga up by one, Dranginis cleaned up the offensive board for a tip-in. Then he intercepted a pass to give the Zags just enough breathing room so that we all wouldn't suffocate.
Guys like Dranginis never get their due because their contributions to the team end up in ways that can't always be quantified in numbers.
To a certain extent, I've always felt that those are the types of guys that Gonzaga is most known for, and often times the most loved by, in the Gonzaga community.To a certain extent, I think the fanbase wanted more from Kyle this year. They wanted him to be a leader. They wanted him to step up offensively and take more shots. They wanted him to be louder and more prominent. That need became more apparent on this year's team because of the glaring holes and all the games that slipped away early in the year.
Dranginis never played that role vocally. He always let his actions on the court dictate what was said about him, and generally speaking, when the team needed him most, he was there. Against Saint Mary's in the WCC Tournament, in the biggest game of the entire season, amongst a stable of players who had incredibly solid games, Dranginis had the highest ORtg on the team at 172. In Gonzaga's win against UConn earlier in the year, it was a Dranginis steal with 35 seconds left that helped make sure Gonzaga didn't completely wilt in that game.
That was Dranginis in a nutshell--always contributing, and doing it as quietly as possible. He leaves a hole on the team that is harder to fill because it requires that jack of all trades mindset. Most of all, it requires the ability to just always be that player grabbing that one rebound, or that one defensive stop, or that one drive to the hoop. Someone will fill his shoes next year, because it isn't a Gonzaga team without that kind of player, but no one will ever be quite as good.