It is easy to forget about Martynas Arlauskas when looking at the Gonzaga Bulldogs roster. The Lithuanian winger only logged a total of 130 minutes last season, largely relegated to garbage time.
Will much change this season? It all depends on how Mark Few plans to juggle the minutes with his talented incoming crop of freshmen, including Julian Strawther. It also depends on how many minutes are even available at the wing in the first place. If there is one thing we know about Mark Few, it is that he rewards his seniors with minutes, especially when those seniors are Corey Kispert.
Kispert averaged a team-high 33 minutes per game last season, so that is probably not going to change very much. As Steven mentioned in his preview on Julian Strawther, Strawther is possibly the ninth or 10th player on the roster. So where does that leave us with Arlauskas? His sample size from last season was so small, it is hard to make any definitive statements as to where he is at in his development.
Arlauskas has a motor, that is for sure. His per 40 minute averages totaled 6.5 rebounds per game. All-around hustle minutes like that are always a good thing, but he needs to demonstrate that his offense is up to snuff. Arlauskas only went 1-for-8 from long range last season—again, small sample size.
If Arlauskas has demonstrated more of a knack for hitting an outside shot, and improved upon his defense, he can make the case for picking up some slack minutes at the three and two spots. Otherwise, he might fall victim to what happens to title teams: Lots of talented players who would normally deserve minutes but aren’t getting them because the team is absolutely stacked. That is Gonzaga’s “problem” at the moment.
If I were a betting man, I think we maybe see more of Arlauskas than we did last season, but not by very much. If there is one thing I have learned in the recent years of covering the Gonzaga Bulldogs, it is to basically never doubt the development path the coaching staff has laid out for its players, especially the international ones. It is easy to forget that when Przemek Karnowski arrived at Gonzaga as a behemoth of a freshman, he only logged 10 minutes a game. Killian Tillie could stretch the floor as a freshman, and he played 12. We all know the story of Rui Hachimura and are currently watching it with Joel Ayayi.
The current track record is approximately a 100 percent success rate, hence, no need to question it with regards to the development of Arlauskas. If this year is not the year, then it will be next year. That is very much the Gonzaga way.