Gonzaga’s 2023-2024 schedule just dropped today which means the season is right around the corner. With a plethora of new and old faces on this year’s roster, here are my keys to success for the Zags.
1. Ryan Nembhard leading the charge
Mark Few didn’t have enough consistency and leadership at the guard spot from Rasir Bolton and Nolan Hickman last season. The Creighton transfer and brother of Andrew Nembhard will solve that. The Zags will go as far as Ryan Nembhard takes them in the 2023-2024 season. He averaged 12.1 PPG, 4.8 APG and 4.0 RPG last season while leading the Bluejays to the Elite Eight. Nembhard will step in and immediately act as the vocal leader of this squad due to his past experience.
2. Depth in the frontcourt
Anton Watson, Graham Ike, Ben Gregg, Steele Venters, Jun Seok Yeo, Braden Huff. Deeper than Lake Tahoe.
The return of Anton Watson is the cherry on top for the Gonzaga big men. His return is vital to this team being able to go far in March. He’ll act as a leader (longest tenured Zag on the roster with the departure of Drew Timme) and the go-to offensive weapon for the Zags throughout the entire season. Watson can also act as a sort of Swiss army knife with his ability to solidify a board, swat anything that comes near the rim, even run the ball on the fast break or step outside the perimeter.
Along with the growth of Ben Gregg over the years and snagging one of the top players out of the Mountain West in Graham Ike, this is one of the best frontcourts in the country. Especially when you have the likes of Braden Huff and Jun Seok Yeo as your Plan C. Better than a lot of Plan A’s for some programs across the country.
3. Defensive efficiency needs to be picked up
It’s no secret that the weakness for the 2022-2023 Zags came on that side of the floor. Gonzaga’s defensive efficiency was 1.013 (ranked #182 in the country) and they allowed their opponents to average 74.3 PPG (ranked #271 in the country) on 44.6% last season (ranked #194 in the country). Just not good numbers across the board and the energy needs to be shifted to pressuring the ball, guarding out on the perimeter, protecting the rim. All facets and energy on the defensive end has to change if the Zags want a pathway to the Final Four.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho