by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, First Round loss to Indiana
Coach: Mark Few (9-8 in 8 NCAA appearances)
Jeremy Pargo, Junior, Guard
Matt Bouldin, Sophomore, Guard
Steven Gray, Freshman, Guard
David Pendergraft, Senior, Guard
Robert Sacre, Freshman, Center
Micah Downs, Junior, Guard
Austin Daye, Freshman, Forward
Josh Heytvelt, Junior, Forward
Abdullahi Kuso, Senior, Forward
Larry Gurganious, Sophomore, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
The 2007-2008 Bulldogs lack the domination of some earlier Gonzaga teams, but this young group is continuing to improve. Led by some talented guards, the Zags have the potential to make some noise this March. Five guards on the team have started at least a dozen games this year and that experience will be valuable. Nobody on the team is really a dominating scorer, but Matt Bouldin might be the closest thing. The sophomore averages 12.8 points per game and can score in a multitude of ways.
Micah Downs and freshman Steven Gray have nearly identical numbers across the board. Both are quality shooters from long range and take nearly half their shots from beyond the arc. At 6-6, David Pendergraft is the guard that usually mans the power forward position. He is not your typical power forward, but Pendergraft is a decent rebounder and can score both inside and out. The man that gets everybody the ball is Jeremy Pargo. The Chicago, Illinois product is a physical player and he will use that strength to get to the basket for some buckets or find an open teammate.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The frontcourt was supposed to be the strong point for Gonzaga this year, but the injury struggles of Josh Heytvelt have really made the Bulldogs a more perimeter orientated team. The good news is Heytvelt, who is still averaging 10.4 points and a team high 5.2 rebounds, is beginning to come around to his earlier form. If he can start putting up 16 points and eight rebounds a game like he did last year, the frontcourt will become that strength instead of a liability. Abdullahi Kuso and Robert Sacre have earned some starts while Heytvelt was dealing with his injuries, but Gonzaga needs Heytvelt to step up at the end of his junior campaign.
Who To Watch:
Austin Daye, a 6-10 freshman, is the next in line of great Bulldogs. Despite his size, Daye is not a post player. He is a wing who just did not stop growing. That size combined with his ability to handle the ball and drive to the basket makes him a nightmare to guard. Daye has rarely earned starts this season and he only averages 18.5 minutes per game, but he can do a lot of scoring in a hurry. Mostly he will do his damage slashing to the basket, but he takes nearly two long balls per game and hits almost half of his attempts.
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