No. 13: Gonzaga Bulldogs


2009-10 record: 27-7 (12-2), first in West Coast
Lost to Syracuse in NCAA tournament second round
Coach: Mark Few, 291-73, 11 years
Last NCAA miss: 1998
2010-11 roster [click here]
2010-11 schedule [click here]

The good: Anyone expected a Gonzaga drop-off will be disappointed. They haven’t missed the Big Dance since 1998 and won’t this season, either.

Why? Elias Harris and Robert Sacre are among the nation’s best frontcourt tandem thanks to their nifty footwork, soft hands and passing ability. Both are future NBA players, which gives the Zags a potential post advantage and nearly every opponent. They’re not the only notable big men, either. Sophomore Kelly Olynk and freshman Sam Dower represent the Bulldogs’ future post tandem.

The bad: Demetri Goodson is no Matt Bouldin. The junior point guard is a quick, yet erratic floor leader who can’t hit an outside shot (just 4 of 29 from beyond the arc last season). That’s a no-no in coach Mark Few’s system, which prizes smart guards who take care of the ball and hit the open shot. If Goodson struggles, junior college transfer Marquise Carter could step in.

The unknown: Is Steven Gray the on-court leader? The 6-5 guard is an ideal complementary player, who’s never had to make the crunch-time plays. Few wants Gray to morph into the go-to late guy, but that’s asking a lot of someone who’s occasionally careless with the ball.

The last thing Gonzaga wants is to waste its talented frontcourt with sloppy guard play. And that’s on Gray.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.