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Dion: Despite Quick Exit From Tournament, Zags’ Season A Success

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Gonzaga Bulldogs players react on the bench during their 84 to 61 loss to the Arizona Wildcats during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Gonzaga Bulldogs players react on the bench during their 84 to 61 loss to the Arizona Wildcats during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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(1090 The Fan) — Unfortunately for Gonzaga, another season came to an end over the weekend when it lost 84-61 to Arizona in the NCAA tournament.

The loss to Arizona, Sunday night in the round-of-32, left Gonzaga hopelessly wondering what might have been if only they had played a cleaner basketball game. After all, the 21 turnovers Arizona forced were the most the Zags had all season.

Now, though, reality hits hard as the Zags look ahead to a new season in October. A season that will be played without point guard David Stockton, leading scorer and rebounder Sam Dower or sharp-shooting forward Drew Barham. All seniors, all headed for uncertain futures this summer.

Coming off a year in which it received a No. 1 seed into the 2013 NCAA tournament and sent two players off to the NBA, the 2013-14 Zags put together another WCC-winning campaign and reached equal heights in the NCAA tournament.

Gonzaga finished 29-7 overall, went 15-3 in conference and reached its conference title game for the 17th consecutive season. It was a successful campaign in many ways.

Guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. grew into roles in which they became leading contributors on the Bulldogs offense, averaging 14 and 11 points per game respectively. And then there was the growth of center Przemek Karnowski. The Polish 7-footer did an admirable job of filling in for the departed Kelly Olynyk in his sophomore season, posting 10 points and seven rebounds per game while averaging 25 minutes.

All three players return to an offense that averaged 76.9 points per game, 40th in the NCAA, and posted a shooting percentage of .498, fifth in the NCAA. The Gonzaga offense should continue to be a strength despite the departures of Stockton, Dower and Barham.

The Zags have also signed three guards — Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Bryan Alberts all ranked as 3-star recruits or higher by scouting services — to help replace the departures of Stockton and Barham. Those three join last year’s class of front court players Luke Miekle and Ryan Edwards, two players who played in a combined 16 games this season.

In the end, Gonzaga continued to do what it is has done for the better part of the last two decades: win conference championships and reach the NCAA tournament.

-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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