It’s gonna be a big night in the Kennel.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs play host to Texas this Saturday in a marquee early season of top ranked teams. The Zags will welcome the fifth ranked Longhorns to the Kennel for the first time, with tip scheduled for 7:30 pm. It will also be Mark Few’s first game back on the sidelines after serving his DUI related suspension.
The gameline line hasn’t been set yet at DraftKings, but it is bound to be close. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Meet the Opponent
Texas, 1-0, KenPom #11
Chris Beard is in his first year as head coach of the Longhorns after moving from Texas Tech, and is at the helm of a new-look Texas squad. Seven transfers were brought in during the offseason, including Timmy Allen (Utah), Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt), Devin Askew (Kentucky), and Marcus Carr (Minnesota). They do return senior guards Courntey Ramey and Andrew Jones, both of whom were in the starting lineup for the Longhorns’ 92-48 opening night win over Houston Baptist.
This is a Texas team with a lot of experience, albeit not necessarily together. The transfers they brought in are no slouches either. Disu led the SEC in rebounding last season, and Marcus Carr and Tre Marshall (UMass, A-10) were both first team all-league selections. Like the Zags, this will be their first real test of the season, so meshing together under a new coach will be their biggest key.
What to Watch For
Speaking of Meshing
While Texas’s roster turnover is positively Calipari-an, we all know Gonzaga has quite a few new faces as well. Despite what the final score from the Dixie State game may tell you, this offense is still a work in progress, as one would expect from a group still learning to play together. This will, in all likelihood, be another fast paced, efficient, and high scoring offense, but it will be interesting to see how it comes together against a top level team this early in the season.
Three Point Shooting
As much raw talent as this offense has, the outside shooting is a bit of a worry. Julian Strawther is the primary shooter on this team at the moment, but a lot of uncertainty remains after that. There are other potentially capable weapons on this team; Rasir Bolton was 3-4 from three vs. DSU, and we know Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard have the range to at least be credible threats from deep. In this age of basketball, multiple guys have to be able to step up and at least threaten the defense if the offense wants to reach its true ceiling.
Rotations and Usage
Much was made of Gonzaga’s rotation minutes vs. Dixie State, and it is fairly obvious that the substitutions going forward won’t be as extreme as what Brian Michaelson implemented on Tuesday. That being said, how Mark Few manages his bench in his first game back will be a point of interest and discussion regardless of the game’s outcome.