Mark Few returns four starters from last year's Zags team that won at least a share of their 10th-straight West Coast Conference regular season championship. Matt Bouldin is the lone starter gone, but will be tough to replace because of his leadership and calming influence on the floor.
Gonzaga's only senior, Steven Gray, will likely step into Bouldin's role. He has never been an overly-outspoken player on the court, but has an all-around game similar to Bouldin's. Gray will be joined in the backcourt by Demetri Goodson who struggled taking over the starting point guard spot from Jeremy Pargo. Goodson did not shoot the ball well last season and had a poor assist-to-turnover ratio. He will need to elevate his play this season for the Bulldogs to reach their full potential.
The frontcourt is solid with Robert Sacre and Elias Harris returning. Sacre is an athletic 7-footer while Harris has a terrific inside/outside game. Mangisto Arop likely steps into the starting lineup after being a valuable bench player a season ago.
Due to four players transferring from the program, the bench is a bit of an uncertainty. Kelly Olynyk is a finesse 7-footer and the only non-starter to see significant minutes last season. JUCO transfer Marquise Carter joins four freshmen as newcomers to the Bulldog roster. Few will need a couple of them to figure out the college game quickly or else his rotations will be very thin.
The Zags are once again showing that they are not afraid to play an extremely challenging non-conference schedule and play any team, anywhere. Few has scheduled nine non-conference games against teams that rank in my Top 50. So they should once again be battle tested when conference play begins and have a "non-mid major-like" RPI.
Player to Watch: Elias Harris, F
The German-born Harris is not your typical sophomore in that he is already 21 years old. He made his presence felt right away last season finishing second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds. At 6-7, 245 pounds, Harris is physical enough to overpower smaller opponents in the post but also has the ability to take defenders off the bounce and hit from outside (shot an impressive 45% from three.) His versatility has him all over NBA radars and he will be a key factor in Gonzaga's success this season.