We got a little bit of a break this week due to the holidays. In what will hopefully (???) be a soon-to-be recurring feature on TSSF, we got a little mailbag of questions/answers for y’all to consume while the news stays quiet all throughout the house.
Here is the first part, second amount dropping tomorrow.
Would the Zags consider bringing in a JC transfer next year to bolster the point guard position?
Agedude: I don’t think so because of the two or three year commitment and feel GU is beyond grabbing JC guys. Without Perk and Crandall the Zags have a much better shot at Brandon Williams so recruiting a new elite point is a possibility. Failing at that, I’d think another grad transfer would be better choice than a JC transfer.
Steven Karr: It would have to be a JC transfer that they would immediately trust to contribute, and that’s not easy to find. I imagine they would prefer the grad transfer route.
Arden Cravalho: I too think another grad transfer sounds like a better option for Gonzaga. It’s worked in the past so why stop now? I also believe one of the three guards on the 2019-2020 roster (Greg Foster Jr., Joel Ayayi, Brook Ravet) could step into the point guard role next season.
Peter Woodburn: I guess if you could find a junior college transfer, than so be it. However, I think it is much easier for the Zags to land a graduate transfer than a juco transfer. The top juco transfers have a hell of a lot of competition as well, due to the fact they can play for two years. Grad transfers are able to select the team they want to play with, and if Gonzaga’s roster makeup looks great, it isn’t that hard of a sell.
We have the luxury of being able to look back at our storied history of the program every year; one of my favorite parts of each iteration is the diverse collection of talent that we seem to stockpile. Especially at the beginning of our rise, our staff saw that in addition to recruiting talented high schoolers, we needed to find impactful players from other sources. In your eyes, what do you think has contributed the most to our success thus far: our ability to grab high level transfers or bringing in international talent?
AD: Close call, but the international players have been the foundations of several teams. Turiaf, Karnowski, Sabonis, Rui and even Tillie were good enough to build around. With the exception of NWG, it feels like transfers and especially grad transfers were complimentary players, not foundational.
SK: Wow that’s a good question. I would have to say international players have probably helped the long term success because they have done it consistently for a longer period. And the transfers have helped for individual seasons, if that makes sense. In both cases, the player development has been the one constant to mold all those players into successful players within the system.
AC: Definitely the international talent. Tommy Lloyd has really put Gonzaga on the map with all these foreign players. I see Filip Petrusev and Martynas Arlauskas continuing this international success in Spokane.
PW: I would argue that Tommy Lloyd has done of the best jobs in international recruiting in all of college basketball. Grabbing the high-level transfers has been great filler, but the meat of each roster has been built around the international talent. Being able to secure the likes of Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, for example, has allowed Gonzaga to compete with the best of the best in college.
What’s your recommendation on staying engaged in the next 3 months of games where most have a >95% win probability?
AD: Not sure that will be a problem. St Mary’s and BYU will always be tough even in rebuilding years. San Francisco, Loyola Marymount and San Diego will be actual tests both on the road and at home.
SK: Enjoy the journey. Basketball season is a marathon. It’s always cool to watch the team improve month-to-month in areas they struggle. In other words, it will be fun to watch the defense improve the next three months. Also, Killian Tillie is coming back so that’s incentive enough to tune in.
AC: This is the best the WCC has been in quite awhile so I feel like fans are underestimating just how exciting these league games are going to be. Frankie Ferrari at USF and James Batemon at LMU should be a lot of fun to watch. Plus, you still got Jordan Ford at Saint Mary’s and Yoeli Childs at BYU. Try paying attention to those players and how Gonzaga matches up with them.
PW: WCC play can be a drag most years, but this year, it is important to note that the WCC is the best it has been in awhile. Although I think the Zags are going to roll through it, how our defense responds to Saint Mary’s and BYU’s offense, and how are offense responds to San Francisco’s defense, are going to be huge storylines. Plus, as Steven mentioned, we haven’t seen Gonzaga function as a complete squad yet. Killian Tillie’s return has some interesting questions for the roster makeup, minutes, and growth of this squad.
Do we still have a chance for the natty?
AD: Hell yes!!! Ya beat Duke, ‘Zona and Creighton with a 1st round NBA pick not playing and Crandall not playing very well. Anyone afraid of rematch with Tennessee or North Carolina? What about playing either of those teams with 2 of your top 7 players returning? Give Few 2.5 months to tune this team (he somehow always gets them to peak in March), get Tillie and Crandall back to full speed and they can play with and beat anyone.
SK: For sure. Don’t let a banked-in 3 pointer and a loss at Chapel Hill distract you from the fact that this team is really good. The #1 offense in the country (Gonzaga currently) the last seven years has either made the National Title or lost in the first round. The ones who made the title game had defenses in the top 40. The ones who lost in the first round had defenses above 80. Gonzaga’s defense will get back into the top 30 by the end of the year, as they always do, and they will have as good of a shot as anyone to cut down the nets.
AC: Most definitely. Gonzaga will only continue to get better with Tillie and Crandall coming back. A fully healthy Gonzaga squad against Tennessee and North Carolina would have different results than what Zag fans saw. A frontcourt of Rui, Clarke, and Tillie can beat any team in the nation. Plus, West Coast Conference play will really help this team click and reach its full potential before March Madness starts.
PW: We had two rough losses and a lot of good wins. One can make the argument that Tillie, with his versatility on both the offensive and defensive end, is the best player on the team. Geno Crandall is better than he showed at the start of the season, and was just heating up when he fell to injury. Gonzaga is still a top-10 KenPom team at the moment and has made it to this point running at 80-percent capacity. I think this year is going to be a wild year, and there aren’t any surefire guarantees for any of the top teams. However, you can’t talk about cutting down the nets in April and leave Gonzaga out of the equation.