College Hoops: Predicting the Zags starting five in 2012-13

Who Joins Pangos & Harris Starting?

Graduation day in Spokane saw seniors Robert Sacre and Marquise Carter whisked away and banished to the Gonzaga folklore. With one starter gone, uncertainty still looms over three positions as only will be locked up for the 2012-13 campaign heading into summer workouts.

No matter what head coach Mark Few says between now and then Kevin Pangos and Elias Harris will undoubtedly be the two focal points on offense.  As the lone senior-to-be in the frontcourt, Harris will also be asked to act as an anchor on defensive side of the ball. In addition to those two, here are some legitimate options that Few will consider from the squad that played in 2011-12.

Point Guard: Kevin Pangos

The sophomore to be was all that the Spokane faithful could have asked from the 6’1″ guard. Pangos was the team’s leading scorer at 13.6 ppg and shot 40.1 percent from behind the arc while maintaining a steady 1.8 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He will be a starter as long as he is a Bulldog,

Forward: Elias Harris

elias harris gonzaga

Harris with then teammate Demetri Goodson in the 2010 NCAA Tourney (Photo - Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

After his freshman season, the Speyer, Germany native was considered to be a lottery pick with more upside than that of former Gonzaga teammate and Detroit Pistons lottery pick Austin Daye.

While the NBA projections appear to have faded to the edge of the horizon, it is undeniable that Harris has been one of the most consistent West Coast Conference performers during his tenure as a Gonzaga Bulldog.

Last season he scored 13.1 points coupled with 8.7 rebounds per contest. Over the course of the year, he recorded 12 double-doubles and was as reliable as any player in the conference.

Backcourt Options:

David Stockton

David Stockton is one of a litany of small guards that will cause Gonzaga sweet misery. He is listed very generously even by “basketball height” standards at 5’11” and lacks the talent to consistently start on a nightly basis for a top-20 program such as the one in Spokane.

The redshirt junior-to-be has displayed flashes of brilliance in his ability to facilitate the offense and hit the occasional three pointer. Stockton played superbly in the Bulldogs two games NCAA tournament games against West Virginia and Final Four participant Ohio State.

Gary Bell Jr.

 The sophomore-to-be is allegedly 6’1″. While that can be speculated, what cannot be is Bell Jr.’s uncanny ability score from ANY place on the floor as evidence by his 10.4 ppg and exceptional shooting percentages (49.6/47.7/74.1).

His height can be a defensive liability with Pangos in the backcourt against major conference backcourts with taller guards, zone defenses can hide this can neutralize guards from posting up on the blocks, as long as the team is willing to find a man to block out.

Mike Hart

 At 6’6″, Hart brings a tenacity and grittiness to the table defensively. He is a role player that can be asked to guard the opposing team’s best backcourt player and hit the glass and rebound. The redshirt senior-to-be is not a significant scoring threat but does not need to be with Bell Jr. and Pangos taking up the majority of the shots from the outside.

Frontcourt Options:

Kelly Olynyk

kelly olynyk

Olynyk with Team Canada at the FIBA World Championships (Photo - Associated Press)

The Canadian forward / center originally started out as a guard before his pituitary gland went haywire. At seven feet tall, the redshirt junior-to-be exercised his redshirt season after being plagued with injuries and deciding that playing time would be less scarce in 2012-13 with Robert Sacre’s graduation at season’s end.

In his first two seasons, Olynyk showed flashes of all-conference type talent while adjusting to his new frame.

Olynyk allows Few the opportunity to put a center in the game that can stroke the ball from 18 feet or more, which can be advantageous when the Bulldogs are looking to incorporate sine high-low action in the halfcourt.

Sam Dower

During Gonzaga’s NCAA run, Dower was used as a catalyst off the bench to boost frontcourt scoring. At 6’9″ the junior-to-be is lanky and can create problems for opponents on the both ends when he is locked in. In 18 minutes per game, Dower averaged 8.5 while shooting 53.8 percent from the field.

Sacre’s departure will guarantee minutes for the Brooklyn Park, Minnesota native because of his offensive efficiency.

He has an advantage to join the starting five because of his experience in playing with Harris during crucial moments throughout the 2011-12 season. Dower needs to convince Few that he can be as efficient offensively in 25-30 minutes per game as a starter than as a sixth or seventh man.

Guy Ebi

When considering all of the returning players that are expected to vie for a starting role, Ebi is an enigma. The 6’6” senior-to-be appeared in 25 out of Gonzaga’s 33 contests for the Bulldogs and averaged 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds during 17.3 minutes per game (good enough for sixth on the team).

Ebi is a steady player that does not do anything extremely well on the offensive end but also does not make many mistakes, evidence by the fact that he fact that he averaged less than a turnover a game.

If Few is content with having a small backcourt, Bell Jr. and Pangos provide the two most lethal scoring threats and arguably make up the potent one-two backcourt punch in the WCC. Olynyk and Ebi seem to be logical choices to join Harris in the frontcourt, purely from the perspective of having a scoring threat in Dower to terrorize an opponent’s second unit.

Hart can be inserted for Ebi when the Bulldogs match up against high octane offenses where multiple offensive threats exist.

No matter what Few decides the fact is that he does have options, and he will need them in order to recapture the conference crown away from Saint Mary’s in the upcoming season.


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  • Why no love for the Zag’s new 7’1″ center? Karnowski should have a huge impact next year.

    • NWSportsBeat

      Mark, thanks for the comment. Article is about returning players that are expected to vie for a starting role. Not incoming. But its hard not to like the 19 year old Polish kid eh? Averaged 10.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 25 minutes per game playing for Siarka Jezioro Tarnobrzeg. One of the top teams in Poland’s hoops league.

      • Sorry, must have missed that part… Not sure Karno will start when the season kicks off but I expect him to have a big impact. It’ll be interesting to see how Few handles the front court with three bigs that like to venture outside the paint. It’s going to be important for one of them to step up and grab boards.

    • Blair_Thomas_

      I appreciate the read. I can’t wait to see the upcoming class. In all honesty, I’m excited to see Ryan Spangler’s development even though he wasn’t mentioned as a frontcourt option. One thing is certain, Few and company know how to find players and I would not be shocked one bit to see someone such as Karnowski sneak into the starting role.

      • Spangler transfered out and already signed with Okl. He said he was ‘homesick,’ but some folks think he saw the writing on the wall with Dower, Olynyk and Karnowski (even though he hadn’t signed yet it was predicted he’d be a Zag). Too bad, I think he could have been great.

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