Gonzaga Bulldogs just come up short
It was hard for me to be very excited about Dodgers opening day with Gonzaga taking on the legendary basketball program of North Carolina for the right to declare themselves the best college basketball team in the country.
Like many of you, I never went to the college I root for. I fell for Gonzaga during the Don Munson run of 1999 and have never looked back. The program thrived under Mark Few and while making a mockery of the West Coast Conference they were never able to advance to the final four until this year.
They have had a plethora of WCC Players of the Year but until this year none of them could carry the team beyond a certain level.
I didn’t cry with Adam Morrison when his team blew a huge lead to UCLA but I understood his grief. I had watched him morph from a crew cut freshman to the long mangy haired highest scorer in basketball.
Dan Dickau was a perfect college point guard but he couldn’t carry his team far enough.
Blake Stepp had game but not in March
Ronny Turiaf was a man among boys in the WCC but his manhood was tested in March
Derek Raivio, Jeremy Pargo, and Matt Bouldin all did great work as leaders of their team but none of them could manage March.
Kelly Olynyk was a big man who could shoot from the outside but he couldn’t shoot the team very far in March.
Kevin Pangos made shot after shot throughout his college career, until March.
I thought it might be the same for Nigel Williams-Goss and at first, it was. He struggled in the first three games. The team advanced to the Sweet 16 but not because of Nigel but because of the excellent team that surrounded. That all changed when he displayed his leadership in the next three games bringing Gonzaga within one game of being National Champions.
The big men Przemek Karnowski / Zach Collins / Jonathan Williams all played a prominent part in getting Gonzaga to the final game, but they couldn’t handle North Carolina.
Karnowski got position time after time but left his shots short and kept missing shots he’d made all year. Freshman Collins had been a beast against the GameCocks and did damage when he was able to play but foul trouble plagued him the whole game.
It was a wonder that the Zags were even in a position to win with two minutes to go given how handicapped they were with all their big men in foul trouble most of the second half.
Goss tried his best, made some key shots but with two minutes to go he re-injured his ankle and tried to do too much from that point on and it was not to be.
As a fan, I was able to enjoy this game because I never expected Gonzaga to ever be playing for a national title and all I really wanted was a good game. I got that, it wasn’t pretty but it was still a competitive game.
One of the best parts of being a fan of a Gonzaga-type program is that you get to watch the players grow from year to year. Collins won’t be a one and done. I watched Karnowksi win more games than any NCAA Men’s basketball player in history. In history.
I’m already looking forward to next year.