Busting Brackets

Gonzaga Basketball: 4 biggest takeaways from 9-4 start through 2023-24 season

Gonzaga Basketball starts WCC play, with plenty of work to do. Here are some takeaways from the Bulldogs' non-conference results.

Continental Tire Seattle Tip-Off - Connecticut v Gonzaga
Continental Tire Seattle Tip-Off - Connecticut v Gonzaga / Conor Courtney/GettyImages
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1. Lack of guard depth catching up to the Bulldogs

When Eastern Washington transfer Steele Venters was ruled out before the start of the season, it was clear that Gonzaga Basketball was in trouble with the 1-3 positions. The team had already had two open spots they weren’t able to fill and two of the “guards” (Luka Krajnovic and Jun Seok Yeo) were simply too raw of freshmen to give minutes to.

That leaves literally three guards to get all of the minutes at those spots. Nolan Hickman (12.2 ppg and 2.5 apg) has been a bright spot as a consistent double-digit scorer, while Creighton transfer Ryan Nembhard (12.2 ppg and 5.7 apg) has had his struggles with efficiency. The junior guard is shooting 40% from the field and an awful 15% from three-point range.

Then there’s Dusty Stromer, a top-60 freshman guard who has started 12 games and playing around 30 mpg. He’s averaging 6.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg on 35% shooting overall and 30% from deep. He’s playing more minutes than originally expected and has done well on defense. But with only two double-digit scoring games on the season, Gonzaga can’t rely on Stromer to pick things up if Nembhard or Hickman fall off.

Now that they’re in WCC play, Gonzaga could get away with playing Anton Watson more at the three-spot. That being said, some three-guard lineups are awaiting them that could exploit it. There just aren’t many alternatives the coaching staff can use and that makes them more vulnerable than in recent memory.