Will the Bulldogs return enough firepower to compete for the West Coast Conference title in 2012?
Gonzaga always seems to be a basketball contender season
after season. Credit Mark Few for that, who's transformed this program into an
elite one in the 14 seasons he's been on campus.
What are we in store for in the 2012/13 NCAA Basketball season? Will Few
have his boys ready for another conference championship run? How will the loss
of Robert Sacre affect their chances in terms of the college basketball odds?
We'll first take a look at how last season panned out.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start, winning their first
five games, including a 73-53 beatdown over Notre Dame. They then dropped two
straight, to Illinois and Michigan State, before reeling off an eight-game
winning streak that included victories over Arizona, Butler and Xavier.
Zags contend year after year
After a January 12 loss at St. Mary's, Gonzaga closed out
the regular season going 11-2 over their final 13 matchups. Defeats,
surprisingly enough, came at the hands of BYU and San Francisco.
In the WCC tournament, the Bulldogs had no trouble avenging
that loss to the Cougars, beating them 77-58 in the semi-finals to set up a
clash with St. Mary's in the finals. In
a thrilling title game, Gonzaga fell short, losing 78-74 in overtime.
Despite heartbreak in their conference tournament, the
Bulldogs were handed a solid seven seed in the NCAA tournament and promptly
smashed #10 West Virginia 77-54.
Their run would come to an end in the next round though as
they fell to eventual Final Four competitors Ohio State 73-66.
In the end, Gonzaga would finish with a final record of
26-7, including a 13-3 conference mark.
As we inch closer towards the 2012/13 season, NCAA basketball odds makers
have the Bulldogs pretty high up on their list to contend again. They're listed
at +6500 at 5Dimes to win the national title, putting them in the same company
as Pittsburgh and ahead of programs like Missouri, Baylor, Wisconsin and Notre
What can we look forward to seeing out of Few's team?
Expectations high again in Spokane
Well, seven-footer Robert Sacre (drafted with the last pick
of the NBA draft by the Lakers) is gone. He averaged 11.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 1.4
BPG last season. Other than that though, a lot of talent is returning.
Elias Harris (13.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG) is back for his senior
year, while freshman sensation Kevin Pangos, who led the team with 13.6 PPG
last season, is also returning and should be even better in his sophomore
To fill the void of Sacre, Sam Dower will see much more time
in the post and Gonzaga also was able to land Polish seven-footer Przemek
Karnowski, who recruits are raving about. Hopefully for Few's sake those two
will be able to offset that departure.
The Bulldogs also have Gary Bell Jr., who averaged 10.4 PPG
and shot a ridiculous 47.7 percent from three-point range in 2011/12, coming
back as well as backup point guard David Stockton.
Basically, everyone asides from Sacre is staying in Spokane.
And what does that mean for the rest of the WCC? They better
watch out. The Bulldogs enter the new season as the clear favorites in the
Gonzaga's made a habit out of being arguably the best
mid-major team out there and they should be just as good, if not better, then
they were last season. Their big man is gone, but a lot of the Bulldogs' other
top contributors are back, so don't be surprised to see them challenging in the
Big Dance again in 2012/13.