While tonight is not the first game of the season, it does mark the beginning of the 2008-09 journey for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Tonight at 6:30 PST, the Zags will take the court for their first organized practice of the season. Along with 6,000+ rowdy fans, ESPNU will be in attendance as part of their "midnight madness" coverage. The Zags will be a featured team on this program along with Kentucky, Memphis, and others.
While tonight's event should be taken as nothing more than a spectacle, there will be so many fun things to watch if you are a Gonzaga fan. A few of mine...
• Sam Dower...can't wait to see what a redshirt season has done to a guy that could have been a big contributor last season.
• Mathis & Mathis. Aside from a few youtube highlights, this will be the first time 99% of Gonzaga fans have ever seen them play.
• Elias Harris. Personally, Elias is as much fun to watch as Adam Morrison was at Gonzaga. A player with unlimited offensive potential, I can't wait to see Harris at McCarthey again.
What are you most excited about as college basketball officially kicks off tonight?!
MARK FEW: One of the biggest surprises of last season, in my estimation, was the way the situation in the frontcourt played out. Leading up to the season, one of the biggest discussion points was who would start at power forward for Gonzaga in 09-10. It seemed to be a toss up between Andy Poling vs. Elias Harris....well...we all know how that turned out. Elias started as a freshman right away and Poling was out the door by January. The fact that Harris started wasn't that big of a stunner. He had a big summer internationally leading up to his freshman year and came in with plenty of big time experience. The true surprise was that Kelly Olynyk; someone who many thought was a project big and a likely redshirt candidate, worked his way into the rotation by the start of the season. Kelly's contributions last season were sporadic but the confidence and experience he gained could pay huge dividends as we close in on the 2010-11 season.
To further boost Kelly's confidence, he had a fantastic summer of basketball. In a move that surprised many, Leo Rautins, head coach of the Canadian Senior Men's National team, decided to include Kelly on the roster over the summer for the FIBA World Championships. While our friends from the North did not have a tournament to remember, Kelly was a huge bright spot. In Canada's third game, he came off the bench to score 13 points and followed that up with 14 against the Spanish national team.
This international exposure for Kelly could be just the confidence boost needed to elevate his offensive game to the next level...