In the past 15 years all the Zags have to show for themselves is 13 West Coast Conference regular season titles, 11 WCC tourney titles, 10 conference Player's of the Year, and 15 straight NCAA tournament appearances. But because they haven't advanced to the Sweet 16 in 5 years (even though they've been upset by a lower seed once in that span, and beat one higher seed) people tend to lose site of the remarkable run that Mark Few has going in Gonzaga.
This is a small, private school in rural Washington that had been to one NCAA tournament prior to Few's arrival.
Now they're a lock – or seemingly so – to be dancing every season.
But with heavy roster losses, especially in the front court, is that still the case?
The losses are significant. Kelly Olynyk has jumped early to the NBA, and the team graduates Elias Harris, Michael Hart, and Guy Landry Edi. Those players accounted for 39% of the team's minutes and 46% of their scoring. Olynyk and Harris formed one of the best front court duos in the country, and Hart is that irreplaceable guy who just seems to do everything and be everywhere.
That's a lot to replace, and at 6-6, 6-6, 6-8 and 7-0 that's a ton of lost size.
So it would make sense that Gonzaga will be a perimeter oriented team next year. They return the entire back court of Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, and David Stockton. Pangos and Bell are the keys. They'll both be juniors and they've both put up tremendously efficient seasons in their young careers.
They also return Gerard Coleman, a Providence transfer, who sat out this season. The 6-4 Junior-to-be averaged 13.2 points and 5.0 rebounds as a sophomore for the Friars, and he could be the counter punch to Pangos and Bell, who are both excellent shooters. Coleman is more of a slasher and lives around the rim.
In the front court, which was decimated by losses, do they return enough?
First, Sam Dower will be a senior. He was penciled in to be the starter this season because no one anticipated the emergence of Olynyk. They also return Przemek Karnowski after his all-important freshman-to-sophomore jump. This is a 7-1 kid who had interest from Duke, Marquette and Cal, and he showed flashes this season. They have a couple of big bodied freshmen coming in as well.
But the most important returner might not even be on the roster yet. Mike Moser (UNLV) and Josh Davis (Tulane) are both transfers who are immediately eligible, and both are supposedly considering the Zags. The playing time is there, if they want it.
But even if they don't land a transfer the Zags return the best back court in the conference, add a high level transfer, and have a thin, but talented front court. In other words, it's just another year in Spokane. Go ahead and pencil them into the dance.