After winding down the college season some, I was able to track down our man Zach Bell, one of the managing writers from one of our SB Nation colleague The Slipper Still Fits, to get an idea on how our Canadian boys did this past season for the Zags. Despite being occupied with a busy Gonzaga recruiting season, and his life outside of the blog, Zach gave us a quick rundown on how he felt Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre did this season but also a quick projection on how Pangos and Kelly Olynyk project to contribute for Gonzaga next season ...
Can Ball Ray: How do you feel the did the Canadians do this year for Gonzaga and what do you feel their impact was?
On Kevin Pangos: He completely exceeded expectations during his first year at Gonzaga. Having not played a ton of AAU ball, there were some concerns that his game might take some to translate at the this level. However, he grabbed the starting point guard position by the horns after his huge performance against Washington St. and never looked back. Even when his shot wasn't dropping, he showed great court sense and made his teammates better. There is no question he has the potential to be the next great Gonzaga guard.
On Robert Sacre: It was a very interesting year for Rob. He started out on fire and looked like he had really improved what had previously been a limited offensive game. He started to tail off a bit during the middle of the season, as he was hampered by a handful of nagging injuries. However, he finished his career with a bang, playing great defense on Jared Sullinger in the NCAA Tournament and establishing himself as an elite defensive center.
On Kelly Olynyk: This might have been the most important year of Kelly's career as he redshirted. With his unique size and skill set, Kelly has never really had the chance to have his body catch up with his size. In other words, the skills were there, but the coordination wasn't. There have been lots of positive reports about how his game has developed and how he has grown more comfortable playing in the paint, but it will be interesting to see the strides he has made.
Can Ball Ray: What do you guys feel the projections next year are for both Pangos and Olynyk?
SSF: Kevin enters his sophomore season as one of the top point guards in the country and the starting point guard at Gonzaga. He and Gary Bell Jr form one of the most talented backcourts on the West Coast. The big step that Kevin needs to make is to find ways to score when his perimeter shot is off. His inconsistency wasn't unexpected as a freshman, and it's a credit to his game that Gonzaga often lost when he struggled. He doesn't need to score 20+ points a game next year. Instead, he needs to continue to improve his command of the offense and find a way to consistently score 12-15 ppg. The other area he needs to improve is his strength. He struggled against Aaron Craft of Ohio St. in the NCAA Tournament, which isn't surprising since Craft is the elite on-ball defender in college basketball. But as Kevin develops his upper-body and deals with contact, he will only continue to blossom.
With Elias Harris returning for his senior season, the most likely starting frontcourt is Harris at PF and Dower at C. Kelly will likely see time at SF and PF this season and will provide vital depth off the bench. The most important thing Kelly needs to do is play with confidence and make an impact defensively. Gonzaga has very rare frontcourt depth next year with Harris, Dower, Olynyk and incoming freshman Przemek Karnowski. All four guys are extremely talented and minutes will fluctuate depending on who has the hot hand. Kelly will have opportunities and should be a major contributor.
Can Ball Ray: Thanks a lot guys for the quick blurbs. Can't wait for next season.