"Gonzaga went from having another NCAA tournament team to harboring legitimate Final Four aspirations when Jeremy Pargo chose to pull out of the draft and stick around for his senior year. Without Pargo, the 'Zags still would have had plenty of weapons. In fact, they may have the most talented group of players in school history. Pargo is the team's engine and the kind of difference-maker who cannot be replaced. An explosive 6-2 point guard, Pargo is too quick for most defenders. Much of the Gonzaga offense is generated by the veteran's ability to attack the basket and create transition opportunities. For the Bulldogs to make some noise in the postseason, Pargo needs to improve his decision-making and become a little more consistent."
TKR's Take: I am glad that this writer realizes just how elite of a player Jeremy Pargo is. With all the talk about how great Meech will be, and all of the other talent on the squad, people tend to forget about Pargo. Pargo's withdrawal from the NBA draft was without a doubt the biggest development of the summer of this team. With his senior leadership, and consistent improvement every season he has been in the program, GU can really talk about being a Final 4 team. I personally feel that Jeremy is one of the top 5 PG's in the country, and he will continue to be our best weapon in the biggest games this season.
"Having sophomore shooting guard Steven Gray, a former top-75 prospect, healthy for the start of the year should provide a big boost. A terrific outside shooter, Gray missed the first 10 games last season because of a fractured wrist. Gray still managed to shoot 46.3 percent (37 of 80) from 3-point range. He will benefit from Pargo's ability to penetrate and kick the ball out, and Gray could emerge as one of the nation's top 3-point shooters."
TKR's Take: From what I saw this summer, Steven is much more than a 3 point shooter. While he is certainly deadly from beyond the line, we will see a much more versatile Steven Gray this season. He has a beautiful shot from any distance on the court, and has the quickness and athleticism to attack the rim. If he can demonstrate this versatility on a game-to-game basis, then it will give him more open looks from beyond the 3 point line.
Must Step Up
"Heytvelt. If the 'Zags are going to reach all of their lofty goals, Heytvelt must return to his sophomore form when he would take over games. In 2006-07, Heytvelt outplayed UNC star Tyler Hansbrough in a head-to-head matchup and also had 27 points and 22 rebounds against Pepperdine. Those are the kind of performances that can elevate Gonzaga into a Final Four contender."
TKR's Take: No player will have a bigger impact on the success/failure of this years team as Josh Heytvelt. When he is playing at the elite level that we have seen him play at, Josh is one of the most talented and explosive big men in the nation. From all indications, it appears that he will be injury-free for the first time since his sophomore season, and we will need to see the best of Josh Heytvelt for the Zags to reach their potential.
"Gonzaga has been to 10 consecutive NCAA tournaments, and that streak is not in jeopardy of coming to an end. Four starters return from a team that went 13-1 in what was the deepest year ever in the West Coast Conference (which sent a record three teams to the NCAA tournament). But another one-and-done trip in the field of 65, which is how the last two seasons have ended, won't be satisfying this time. They've got a difference-maker in Pargo, Daye is poised for a breakthrough year, and having Gray and Heytvelt fully healthy will be a big lift. Anything short of a trip to the Sweet 16 should be considered a disappointment."
TKR's Take: This is the year that GU must stop being the "cute mid-major", and get to a Final 4. The talent that Coach Few has at his disposal matches anyone in the country, and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament would see the team play their first two rounds in Portland or Boise. Everything is in place for this to be a historical season, and it is up to the team to reach their exceptional potential and compete for a national championship.