Detroit Tigers: Low-Buy Trade Targets to Improve the Bullpen

The Detroit Tigers have whittled their bullpen (in terms of reliability) down to four pitchers setting up closer Joakim SoriaAlex Wilson, Blaine Hardy,  Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz.

The rest have been maddeningly inconsistent. Bruce Rondon and Ian Krol seem like long-term pieces, however both have abnormally high ERAs (in albeit small sample sizes). Rondon’s is 9.35 in 8.2 innings while Krol’s is 6.14 in 14.2 innings.

If the Feliz’ arrival has shown the Tigers anything, it’s that quality relief options are available—and they may just need a change of scenery to thrive. Here are some low-buy trade targets the Tigers could look into in order to bolster the team’s bullpen.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins

Per the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Tigers have been watching Steve Cishek. This makes sense.

Cishek struggled mightily to start the year, so much so that he was sent down to Double-A to work things out. The former closer is back with the big league club, and seems to have figured things out. As a setup reliever since June 14th, Cishek has a 0.93 ERA and nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings.

The most unnecessary luxury on a losing team is a good reliever, so if Miami sells off pieces, Cishek may be out the door. He’s even more expandable considering how well A.J. Ramos has fared as a closer (1.55 ERA, 14 saves). This isn’t even to mention the presences of Sam Dyson (3.48 ERA), Bryan Morris (3.31) and Carter Capps (1.55).

It seems that the Tigers like to acquire relievers with closing experience to serve in a non-closer role. This has happened with everyone from Jim Johnson and Joel Hanrahan to Joakim Soria and Feliz. Cishek (94 careers saves) would fit the mold.

Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks

Yet another former closer who’s had troubles, former White Sox reliever Addison Reed would be the ultimate low-buy for the Tigers.

Reed has a career 4.39 ERA, including a 5.92 number this year, but when you look at the numbers more closely, he comes off as a much better pitcher. The former closer’s FIP is a much-more-acceptable 3.84 this year. In other words, the Diamondbacks aren’t doing him any favors defensively.

Over the course of a year-and-a-half in the desert, Reed has nine losses and 35 saves (only three this season). His ERA in Arizona is 4.73. Going purely on those numbers alone, the D-Backs may be inclined to move him, especially considering the team’s depth chart.

Arizona is stocked with quality relievers, from closer Brad Ziegler to setup relievers Andrew Chafin (2.90 ERA), to Randall Delgado (2.93 ERA) and the duo of Daniel Hudson and Oliver Perez (3.32 and 3.46 respectively).

Reed isn’t even on the team’s big league roster. They’d probably be more than open to moving him, especially given his salary. Nonetheless, he’d be a good low-buy option for the Tigers, especially with his closing expertise (104 career saves).

Joe Thatcher, (Formerly of the) Houston Astros

Finally! A non-closer. Joe Thatcher was just designated for assignment by the Astros and is available. Not only is Thatcher wildly non-expensive, relative to his value, he’s also been consistent for Houston.

Thatcher has a respectable 3.79 ERA and an even more attractive 3.17 FIP. The former Angel has struggled of late (27.00 ERA in last five appearances, spanning 1.1 innings), but was dynamite before that. In 31 appearances prior to the struggles, Thatcher posted a sparkling 2.04 ERA.

Given his relative inexpensiveness and success, the Tigers should take a flier on Thatcher. His arrival would be another step towards having a strong bullpen.

Jean Machi, (Formerly of the) San Francisco Giants

It seems that the piece has now moved from struggling former closers to relievers that were recently designated for assignment. Joining Thatcher in the DFA category is now former Giants’ reliever Jean Machi.

Machi excelled in 2014 and 2014 for the Giants, posting a spectacular 2.49 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 119.1 innings. He struck out 102 batters over that span while accumulating 10 wins. The four-year veteran would likely pitch earlier in games, a la Hardy, and would provide yet another dependable reliever in the Tigers’ bullpen.

Machi does have a 5.14 ERA this year, but his 4.20 FIP suggests he’s better than his high ERA. Despite those “struggles,” the right-handed pitcher has been filthy against lefties this year. Left-handed hitters have produced a miniscule .120 batting average against Machi. Other nasty numbers? Left-handed batters have posted a .241 OBP and a .160 slugging percentage. That’s good for a .401 OPS against. Those are p-r-e-t-t-y good numbers for someone on the waiver wire.

Since he’s been designated for assignment, the Tigers won’t have to pay much to acquire him. Which is nice when you don’t have a boatload of assets to trade.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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3 Stats from the Seattle Mariners 4-1 Loss Versus the Kansas City Royals

  • Two

The number of hits by the Mariners. Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano were the only M’s with hits. This offensive output simply isn’t going to cut it, even against minor league opposition, much less Major League opposition.

  • Nine

The number of hits allowed by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. King Felix threw 6.2 innings and allowed nine hits, four runs (all earned) and a walk. He struck out five.

  • 13

The number of strikeouts by Seattle hitters. Again, not going to cut it, especially when you only have one walk and two hits.

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Sami Khedira Signs for Juventus: Signing Shows Juve’s Intent

The fact that Sami Khedira, like Paolo Dybala before him, has signed for Juventus only shows the Italian champions’ willingness to reload and re-launch in terms of winning European hardware next season. Both signings are moves that take the Old Lady “from strength to strength” thanks to loaded player selections in the center of the pitch and in attack.

The signings also give just another reason why Juve decision-maker Beppe Marotta is the best in the business. Marotta has snagged Khedira, Andrea Pirlo, Fernando Llorente and Paul Pogba for free while signing stars Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez, Patrice Evra and Andrea Barzagli on cut-rate deals. You paid more for your last batch of groceries than Marotta paid to sign Khedira, Pirlo and Pogba. There should be some kind of award for that.

Khedira missed large parts of the season for Madrid last term, making just 12 appearances over all competitions. However, when you can sign a player for free who was a regular starter at Real Madrid and won the Bundesliga, the Champions League, La Liga and the World Cup before the age of 29, you know you’ve had a solid day at the office.

The German international leaves a crowded midfield situation at the Bernabeu and joins a midfield grouping in Turin where he will receive his fair share of starts.  

While competing with Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio for starts won’t be easy, it will provide him much less competition than in Spain where Khedira was stuck behind James Rodriguez, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Additionally, Khedira would have had to fight off Asier Illarramendi, Lucas Silva and Casemiro for time off the bench.

Khedira will likely provide a change-of-pace to Pirlo in midfield, serving more as a destroyer to Pirlo’s metronome. He doesn’t possess the passing acumen as his new Italian teammate, but Khedira is a reliable passer nonetheless. The German will likely be charged with shielding the defense as a descriptive force while providing steady passing. He’s not Pirlo, but he’ll give opposing teams something to think about nonetheless.

If anything, the decision to bring in a player of Khedira’s quality to essentially serve as the first midfielder off the bench only shows the club’s desire to not only make it back to Europe’s biggest game, like they did this past season, but win the game—no matter who the opponent.

For more Juventus, click here. For more from the world of Serie A, click here. For more Soccer/Football, click here. For Vine videos (including Champions League highlights and Europa League highlights), click here.

5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 13-1 Loss to the Cleveland Indians

  • 13

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers. It matched a season high. It was also the second time in three games that the Tigers allowed 13 runs.

  • Four

The number of times Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler reached base. Kinsler went 2-for-2 with two doubles. Jose Iglesias was the only other Tiger to reach base more than once.

  • One

The number of RBIs from the Tigers. Nick Castellanos drove in the lone run. He’s hitting .259 on the year.

  • 11

The number of combined strikeouts by Anthony Gose (4), Alex Avila (3) and Miguel Cabrera and Castellanos (2 each). No other Tiger struck out more than once.

  • Eight

The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene. The former Yankee had only allowed two runs (one earned) all year.

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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 5-2 Loss to the New York Yankees

  • Three

The number of hits by Tigers’ right fielder J.D. Martinez. Martinez went 3-for-4 with two runs scored in the loss. He also struck out once. His three hit day raised his average to .281.

  • Two

The number of hits by both Alex Avila and Anthony Gose. Two of the less heralded members of the Tigers lineup stepped up big time, but their efforts weren’t enough as Detroit suffered only its third loss of the season.

  • 0

The number of hits the Tigers produced when they had runners in scoring position. As a whole the team went 0-for-9. Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez were 0-for-1 while Gose and Ian Kinsler finished 0-for-2. Kinsler’s double-play partner Jose Iglesias went 0-for-3.

  • One

The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Kyle Lobstein. The starter took the loss, but the bullpen allowed most of the damage.

  • Four

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Lobstein did fairly well, but the bullpen let the game get out of control. Ian Krol, Tom Gorzelanny, Al Alburquerque and Blaine Hardy combined to allow five hits, three runs (all earned) and five walks over the span of three innings. The group only managed two strikeouts, both of which were Hardy’s. Alburquerque didn’t even record an out, but surrendered two walks.

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Kyle Wiltjer Reportedly Returning for Senior Season

Gonzaga fans got some good news for the third time in the past few weeks. Coming on the heels of the news that Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis will return next season, Kyle Wiltjer will reportedly stick around for his senior season in Spokane.

Wiltjer led a talented Zags team in scoring (16.8 points per game) while helping Gonzaga reach only the second Elite Eight in program history. Mark Few and company will likely continue their pursuit of top transfers Damion Lee (eligible immediatly) and Nigel Williams-Goss (will have to sit out a year).

Detroit Tigers: Statistical Impacts of New Additions

  • Yoenis Cespedes

Acquired via: Trade, with Gabe Speier and Alex Wilson for Rick Porcello

Maybe the biggest name brought in by the Tigers this offseason, Cespedes has come out of the gates swinging for Detroit. Entering Friday he was hitting .308 with four doubles, three RBI and a triple in 40 plate appearances. He hit his first home run against Jeff Samardzija on Friday and while his 9-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t pretty, he’ll be a constant threat in a middle-of-the-lineup that also features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.

  • Shane Greene

Acquired via: Trade, for Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba

Acquired in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that also saw the Tigers relinquish prospects Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba, Greene has been one of, if not the best pitcher for the Tigers (which is saying something considering David Price’s fantastic start to the season).

The 26-year-old has two wins in two starts while allowing a grand total of one run. That run was unearned. The former Yankee has shown great promise, only allowing one walk while lasting eight innings in both starts. His ERA won’t be 0.00 at the end of the season, but it looks like Dave Dombrowski found yet another gem.

  • Anthony Gose

Acquired via: Trade for Deon Travis

Yet another under-the-radar acquisition by Dombrowski, Gose has added a plus defender to the Tigers outfield while showing improved signs with the bat. The former Blue Jay entered the season as a career .234 hitter but has shown flashes of immense promise thanks to a .391 batting average. He’s also contributed two doubles, a triple, a home run, a stolen base and five RBI.

  • Alfredo Simon

Acquired via: Trade for Eugenio Suarez and Johnathon Crawford

Acquired in a trade with Cincinnati for shortstop Eugenio Suarez and relief prospect Johnathon Crawford, Simon has turned in nearly as impressive as a start as his fellow-rotation mate Greene. The former reliever has a sparkling 2.03 ERA over two starts (both wins). He’s struck out five and walked zero batters. There were questions about Simon coming into the season and whether he could replicate the form that made him an All-Star last season, but so far Simon is thriving.

  • Tom Gorzelanny

Acquired via: Free Agency

Signed as a free agent to fill a need in the bullpen, Gorzelanny has been solid in his two appearances, allowing only two hits in 2.2 innings pitched. He has a strikeout and has yet to walk a batter. He’ll get more work as the season progresses, so expect to see more of the former Pirates starter. He posted a 0.86 ERA in 23 appearances for Milwaukee last season.

(RELATED: Should the Tigers Sign Rafael Soriano?)

Continue to check back this season for updates on the newest Tigers and how they’re faring in their first season in Detroit.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Juventus: Rare Cost-Efficient Champions League Success

The upcoming slate of Champions League games features some of European football’s usual suspects joining Juve in the last eight: Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. Monaco and Porto have also qualified.

With the exception of Porto, all of these teams differ from Juve in the fact that they spend an exorbitant amount of money on new players. Sure, Atleti and Bayern sell a number of high-level players too, but they still spend top dollar to replace them.

Juventus are the rare success story in terms of not spending a ridiculous amount of money. Sure they’ve splurged on a player or two, but they tend to keep it conservative with their spending. With the exception of three players, every single Bianconeri player was acquired in 2010 or later. Captain Gianluigi Buffon and Vice-captains Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio (an academy product) are the only exceptions.

All three have been catalysts of Juve’s recent success with Buffon and Chiellini anchoring one of Europe’s best and most cohesive defensive units. Martin Caceres would be suiting up alongside the Italian duo, but an ankle injury in March sidelined the Uruguayan defender. Caceres is a versatile defending option who can play any position on the back line. He cost Juve a mere €8 million. Rising Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna cost the Bianconeri €13 million plus half of Ciro Immobile’s rights. Andrea Barzagli, who when healthy is one of Europe most consistent and underrated defenders, cost Juve €300,000. Barzagli’s teammate Leonardo Bonucci may be the best passing central defender in the world. He cost Juventus €15.5 million. This justifiable when you consider he is only 27 and developing into one of the better players at his position. Right back Stephan Lichtsteiner joined Juve €10 million while his counterpart on the left side of the defense, Patrice Evra, cost a mere €1.2 million.

So just to recap, arguably the best defensive unit in Europe cost Juve the following, in order of cheapest to most expensive:

  • Andrea Barzagli: €300,000
  • Patrice Evra: €1.2 million
  • Caceres: €8 million
  • Stephan Lichtsteiner: €10 million
  • Ogbonna: €13 million (Plus half of Ciro Immobile’s rights. Juve would later sell the other half of Immobile’s rights to Torino for €8 million.)
  • Leonardo Bonucci: €15.5 million

Remember, PSG spent over €69 million during the last summer transfer window for David Luiz alone while Barcelona splurged €42 million on the defensive trio of Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Vermaelen and Douglas in the last calendar year. Real Madrid just agreed to pay Porto €31 million for another defender, Danilo.

Slightly further up the pitch, Juventus relies on a midfield grouping that generally consists of some combination of Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Simone Pepe and Roberto Pereyra. Marchisio was an academy product, and as such didn’t require a transfer fee. Pogba, one of the world’s best and a future Ballon d’Or winner cost Juventus less money than it would cost you to buy a potted plant. He came on a free transfer. Azzurri legend, masterclass passer and metronome Andrea Pirlo arrived for free as well. Vidal and Pepe were slightly more expensive, costing a combined €20.6 million (Vidal €10.5, Pepe €10.1). Did I forget to mention, when on form, Arturo Vidal may be the best two-way player in the world? Oh, I did? Let me say it again. When on form, Arturo Vidal may be the best two-way footballer in the world. He cost €10.5 million. Pereyra is on loan from Udinese. In order to bring the attacking midfielder in on loan, Juve paid a mere €1.5 million. Even if you factor in utility/squad player Simone Padoin’s €5 million fee, Juve haven’t surrendered much financially form one of Europe’s best midfields.

  • Marchisio: Free* (academy product)
  • Pirlo: Free
  • Pogba: Free
  • Pereyra: €1.5 million (Loan fee. Juventus have the option to make the move permanent for €14 million over the summer.)
  • Padoin: €5 million
  • Pepe €10.1
  • Vidal €10.5

In other words, that’s a combined €27.1 for a midfield that could potentially guide Juventus into the Champions League semifinals. Real Madrid doled out €25 million for the rights to Toni Kroos, not to mention €80 million for another midfielder, albeit more of an attacking type in James Rodriguez. Barcelona paid more for Ivan Rakitic (€18 million) than Juve did for their four best midfielders in Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba and Vidal (€10.5). The same can be said of Bayern Munich, who in the summer of 2013, paid €37 million for Mario Gotze and €25 million for Thiago.

As we move further up the pitch, transfer fees get more expensive. Barcelona paid €81.25 million for Luis Suarez this past summer transfer window. Real Madrid paid a combined €185 million for their star duo of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico Madrid remade their attacking contingent over the summer by paying a combined €86 million for forwards Alessio Cerci (€16 million), Angel Correa (€7.5 million), Raul Jimenez (€10.5 million), Mario Mandzukic (€22 million) and Antoine Griezmann (€30 million).

Juventus possess a dangerous strike force that was significantly cheaper than the likes of the near free-spending clubs listed above.

The Bianconeri admittedly splurged €20 million on Alvaro Morata, but the young Spaniard already looks like a bargain thanks to some strong performances. Like the midfield, Juventus used a number of free transfers and loaned players to fill out their roster. Promising youngster Kingsley Coman was signed for nothing while towering striker Fernando Llorente was also brought in for free. Alessandro Matri rejoined the club on a loan deal to provide depth. While €20 million seems like a bargain for Morata, the real bargain came when the team bought Carlos Tevez from Manchester City. Tevez cost an initial €13 million (and change) and has gone on to reestablish himself as one of Europe’s most dangerous strikers. Here’s just a taste of what Carlitos has done lately.

Here’s what Juve paid for their attackers:

  • Coman: Free
  • Llorente: Free
  • Matri: Free* (On Loan)
  • Tevez: €13.89 million
  • Morata: €20 million

Considering the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have recently spent enough money on attacking players to fix a small country’s economy, €38.89 million seems like a relatively small price to pay for a group of strikers that have advanced Juve as far as their Spanish counterparts.

While teams like PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid spend exuberantly when they get the chance, Juve have made it just as far with much cheaper, but just as effective talent. It’s also worth noting that Juventus, the champions of Serie A, widely regarded as a struggling league from a financial standpoint, made it further in the competition than every single English team. England’s Premier League is widely regarded as the most financially prosperous league on the planet.

Of Juventus players listed above, the Bianconeri paid €108.99 million. Real, Barca and Atleti all paid more than that amount for players in the most recent summer transfer window. Monaco are in the position they are now because of a heavy investment in their squad that cost them over €140 million during last season’s summer transfer window. PSG sonly spent €58 million this past summer transfer window, but during the previous two seasons, they spent over €130 million in each summer window.

The Bianconeri are in a position to make the Champions League semifinals thanks to a favorable matchup with Monaco. The French club have dialed back their spending after a summer of spending cash last season. They’re more of the less of a group of evils than being a favorable matchup. There are no easy games at this stage of the Champions League, but Monaco seems to be the least intimating of the final eight. While most of the other eight teams bought elite talent for top dollar, Juventus have found their own elite talent through more cost-efficient methods, something that is a rarity these days.

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Detroit Tigers Links: Spring Training Cuts, Miguel Cabrera, Luke Putkonen

The Tigers have been busy trimming their roster down ahead of Opening Day. Detroit has optioned and cut players who either played a role last season or were thought to me in the mix for a big-league roster spot before Spring Training began.

  • Kyle Lobstein was sent to Triple-A due to a dearth of starting opportunities and will likely be the first name called upon should something happen to one of Detroit’s starters. Joining him in Toledo are relievers Josh Zeid and Alex Wilson, who failed to make the team.

Zeid was claimed off waivers from Houston and was part of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia and Jarred Cosart and John Singleton to Houston. Wilson has also been involved in a blockbuster trade. He came to Detroit in the Rick Porcello/Yoenis Cespedes swap.

  • A previous round of cuts saw the departure of pitchers Drew VerHagen and Jose Valdez. Outfielder Daniel Fields and shortstop Dixon Machado joined the two pitchers in Triple-A.
  • Steven Moya will also start the season in Triple-A.
  • Two significant bench players were optioned to Toledo this morning with outfielder Tyler Collins and last season’s backup catcher Bryan Holaday being sent down. Former O’s outfielder Xavier Avery was sent to minor league camp.

In other news,MLB.com’s Jason Beck passed along news that reliever Luke Putkonen has been released. Putkonen posted solid numbers in 2012 and 2013 with a cumulative 3.35 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched. However he hasn’t found the same success of late and was cut.

And finally, when not stealing the Phillie Phanatic’s keys, Miguel Cabrera is back in the field. The team hopes he and Victor Martinez will be ready for Opening Day.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011 Recruiting Class Paying Massive Dividends for Mark Few & Zags

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have never quite been able to recruit the same level of talent out of high school as the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas, however GU has firmly cemented its place alongside those three schools in the College Basketball hierarchy by recruiting players who not only fit their system and culture, but players that they can develop.

The Zags also tend to find gems on the international market with future NBA players Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre all coming from outside the states. The Zags have two future NBA players on their roster in European big men Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis.

Despite the lack of McDonalds All-Americans, Mark Few has put together impressive recruiting classes in the past. 2007 brought Sacre and another future NBA player in Austin Daye as well as fellow top-100 recruit Steven Gray who flourished as one of the team’s best players.

While the 2011 class didn’t bring the size that 2007’s brought, the group of players to arrive in Spokane in 2011 has helped propel GU to its first Sweet 16 since 2009. This year’s incarnation of Gonzaga may be Mark Few’s best, and could reach the school’s first Final Four. While a lot of this has to do with the Zags’ daunting frontline, featuring a three-headed monster of Karnowski, Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer, a lot of it has to do with the backcourt.

Starting guards, and products of the 2011 recruiting class, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. have sacrificed a lot in order to make the team better. Both have seen their per-game scoring numbers drop by nearly three points each. Bell Jr. is often tasked with checking the opposition’s best permitted defender while Pangos rarely gets a breather, playing 35 or minutes on 22 occasions this season.

Despite their sacrifices, Pangos and Bell Jr. form one of the best backcourts in the country.

Pangos is an unflappable floor-general who is lethal from three-point land (44.9% this season) and can beat you off the dribble with a potent array of layups and floaters. If Gonzaga weren’t incredibly blessed with a wealth of scoring options, it would surprise no one to see Pangos’ per-game scoring approach 20 points. Oh yeah, he’d probably start on just about every team in the country… including Kentucky.

His backcourt mate Bell Jr. is one of the best defenders in the country. Despite a 6’2” frame that puts him at a height disadvantage, Bell Jr. can lock down almost anyone on the perimeter. Just ask BYU’s Tyler Haws, who despite having a height advantage of three inches and being one of the best scores in the country, struggled mightily against the Zags due to the presence of Bell Jr. Haws’ bread and butter is the contested mid-range jumper, but he managed shooting nights of 6-14, 3-11 and 4-12 against Gonzaga. And oh yeah, Bell Jr. can knock down the three as well. He shot 47.7% as a freshman and still manages a similarly deadly 37.7 clip this season. Similar to Pangos, if GU had fewer weapons or if Bell Jr. were at a bigger school with less firepower, he’d likely be a 15 point-per-game scorer.

In addition to Pangos and Bell Jr., Few also brought in Idaho native Kyle Dranginis as well.  Dranginis operates as the team’s hustle monger off the bench, always challenging for offensive rebounds, loose balls and blocked shots despite being shorter than a good portion of the opposition. He only averages 4.1 points a contest, but if it weren’t for the presence of USC-transfer Byron Wesley, Dranginis would be starting and easily averaging double-figures in points per game. Despite only scoring three points in the team’s round-of-32 win over Iowa, he had a steal, a block, two rebounds and four assists. He fills the stat sheet for the Zags. In win at Sweet Sixteen opponent UCLA in December, Dranginis totaled five points, six rebounds and five assists. He also had a steal and a made three pointer.

Due to freshman Josh Perkins’ broken jaw and Eric McClellan’s acclimation process, Few has largely depended on a backcourt rotation of Pangos, Bell Jr. and Dranginis down the stretch.

In addition to those three, GU’s 2011 recruiting class is also paying dividends elsewhere. Forward Ryan Spangler transferred to Oklahoma to be closer to home and has helped the Sooners to the Sweet Sixteen with 9.9 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per contest. He posted seven double-doubles this season and reached double-figures in rebounding in 12 contests.

The remaining members of the 2011 class have propelled the Zags to a point where they can reach the program’s first final four. They’ve definitely earned it.