The Gonzaga Bulldogs had the best year in team history last season, earning their first No. 1 ranking in the polls and the first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. One of the big reasons for that success was the strength of the frontcourt in Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. With both players gone, Mark Few is going back to what he knows best -- a strong backcourt.
Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell return to form one of the better backcourts in the nation. The Zags also play in the WCC, where they have reigned supreme since bursting onto the national scene in 1999. Gonzaga was picked to finish first in the WCC during the conference media day, getting eight of ten first place votes in the process. They open the season on Saturday against Bryant at home.
Drew Barham: Barham transferred to Gonzaga after two seasons at Memphis. He settled into a slight role amongst the guard rotation, but with the lack of depth in the frontcourt, could very well find himself as a swing forward as the season progresses.
Gary Bell: The junior guard will slot into the starting backcourt alongside Pangos, and his defense will be necessary for the team to succeed. Bell is the best on-ball defender for the Zags, and that was apparent in the team's NCAA loss to Wichita State last year after Bell left the game with a foot injury.
Gerard Coleman: The transfer from Providence very well could be the wildcard for the Zags. Coleman was a big-time slashing forward for Providence, averaging 13.2 points his sophomore year. Gonzaga will go small often, and that should allow plenty of minutes for Coleman to showcase his talents.
Kyle Dranginis: Dranginis came in the same recruiting class as Bell and Pangos, but redshirted his freshman year. He found a small role with the team last year, but like all things Gonzaga this year, a smaller lineup means more minutes for anyone with the position "guard" attached to their name in the lineup.
Kevin Pangos: Much of Pangos' scoring statistics went down from his freshman to sophomore year when he wasn't relied upon as much. With the departure of the starting frontcourt, this team now belongs to the junior guard.
David Stockton: John Stockton's son probably won't have an NBA career, but he is making quite a name for himself in Gonzaga lore. He'll be the prime backup to Pangos at the point guard position in his final year of college ball.
Sam Dower: When he has the minutes, Dower is one of the more efficient scorers in the nation. His offensive contributions went down from his sophomore to junior year thanks to the emergence of Olynyk, but Dower will be the number one option in the post for a team that doesn't have too many choices down low.
Angel Nunez: Nunez transferred from Louisville halfway through last season after playing sparingly. He averaged less than five minutes a game for the Cardinals but will probably take on a much larger role with Gonzaga when he shows up midway through the season.
Ryan Edwards: Edwards is a 7'1, 300-pound center out of Montana. Any other year, he would most likely redshirt his first season, but Mark Few doesn't have many options down low. He'll get a trial by fire for college basketball this season.
Przemek Karnowski: Karnowski came out of Poland with some scouts calling him a potential All-American if he grew up in the States. He is a hulking mass of a center, and although he showed flashes of offensive brilliance last season, he took a bit of time to adapt to the pace of the college game. Look for vast improvement in his sophomore campaign.