Gonzaga men will have experience down low, but not so much in the backcourt

Gonzaga's 6-foot-9 sophomore center Sam Dower provided bulk in the middle and instant offense off the bench for Zags last season. (Dan Pelle)

Season after season has gone by in head coach Mark Few’s 13 years with Gonzaga pretty well stocked at the guard position, particularly point guard.

Most years there have been at least two capable ball-handlers. Most years there have been seasoned guards to help the Bulldogs navigate arduous schedules and reach the NCAA Tournament.

Santangelo and Hall. Dickau and Stepp. Stepp and Brooks. Raivio and Pargo. Pargo and Bouldin. Including Dickau in 2002 and Bouldin in 2010, five GU guards were selected WCC player of the year, with Stepp winning the award twice.

When Few surveys his current crew of guards, he likes what he sees in terms of talent, savvy and potential, but there’s a shortage of collegiate experience. Demetri Goodson, who started the last two seasons, transferred and he’s playing football at Baylor.

“This is as much youth as we’ve ever tried to play with, especially in the backcourt,” Few said.

Sophomore David Stockton, the former walk-on who often played more minutes than Goodson in WCC games last season, returns at point guard. Senior Marquise Carter operated primarily at wing and earned 2011 WCC newcomer of the year honors in his first season as a Bulldog.

True freshmen guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. bring impressive resumes and they’ve had shining moments in scrimmages.Their development figures to greatly influence the team’s prospects.

“They’re as ready to play as freshmen as Blake (Stepp) and (Matt) Bouldin were,” assistant coach Tommy Lloyd said.

If the backcourt develops, the Bulldogs could be on to something because the frontcourt is regarded as one of the top units in the nation.

Led by senior center Robert Sacre, junior forward Elias Harris and sophomore forward Sam Dower, the Bulldogs should be a handful in the paint.

Harris, who bypassed playing for the German national team this summer, stayed in Spokane and dropped 10 pounds to reach his current weight of 234.

“He’s in much better shape, his game is tighter,” Few said. “It’s tough when you play in Germany and then you show up (in Spokane) in September. It’s like you’re a free-agent signing and I don’t think he feels like that now. I think he’s all in.”

Gonzaga appears to have the personnel to run a three-guard lineup or go with more size at the wing. Guy Landry Edi, who won’t be available at the start of the season after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, is an athletic 6-foot-6, 218-pounder. Returning players Mathis Mönninghoff, Mathis Keita and Mike Hart are among the other options.

“There is some depth,” Few said. “It’s just young depth.”

Also in this section

GU roundup

Lots of Zag stuff from here and there this morning and more coming tomorrow with the S-R's college basketball…


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