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Commentary: Zags need to make run in the Big Dance to get national respect

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GonzagaSPOKANE — The Gonzaga men’s basketball team is expected to be ranked number two in the country when the polls come out Monday.

But we often overlook the Zags in Seattle – and revisit them come NCAA Tournament time, right around their annual disappointing loss in the big dance.

They used to be the tournament’s Cinderella. But lately, they’re the underachievers.

Forget national respect, in all honesty, I’m not sure Gonzaga has much regional respect, because of their weak conference – and their recent failures come tournament time.

Which is why this year is most critical. Gonzaga will likely be a number one seed in March Madness.

But it’s my opinion that Mark Few’s team will continue to be an afterthought – not to mention a huge disappointment – without a trip to the Final Four.

Don’t get me wrong. The Zags accomplishments are incredible. This will be their 15th NCAA Tournament. Their 27 wins this season are the most regular-season victories in school history. They’re just two wins away from just their fourth undefeated conference season.

But let’s be honest – have they ever been seen as a national powerhouse? Not really. And they won’t until they play to their national ranking in front of the entire country when it matters the most.

This simply won’t cut it. First or second round losses five of the last six years. Just two sweet sixteen berths since 2001. They’re the postseason mainstays that continually disappoint.

I think Mark Few deserves all the credit in the world for what he’s built in Spokane. But he won’t be given his due until he can lead a team all the way.

It’s a challenge to everyone on this year’s team. You’ve likely earned that top seed. But until you do anything in March, you haven’t earned anything else.

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  • Brian Barrie

    Good Morning Aaron,

    Just had to comment on your Zag commentary, last night. You are such a great representative of your generation. As in, what have you done for me lately. If you look back and compare Mark Few's accomplishments since he became head basketball coach at Gonzaga, you will find that he and the Zag's mens basketball program have brought more national recognition to this state's sports legacy than all the accomplishments of the Huskies, Cougars, Seahawks, Sonics, Mariners and Sounders combined. Go Zag's, Washington state's best sports representatives for a long time!

  • Leah

    Until Gonzaga joins a conference where they are challenged on a nightly basis, they will continue to peak in December. I'm sorry but trouncing the likes of Loyola Marymount or Portland State doesn't impress me. The only reason they are in the top 10 right now is by virtue of the fact that the true best teams in the country (Indiana, Michigan, Miami, Duke, etc) are beating up on each other, and because of its lackluster schedule, Gonzaga has very few blemishes.

    Much as it pains me as a Husky to say this, but I'm far more impressed this year with the Ducks, and Arizona, because they play in a conference full of tough teams – the only "tough" game GU has on its conference docket is St Mary's. The reason they have to front load their schedule is in the hopes that the committee might overlook their cupcake conference. I look forward to the annual second round exit for Gonzaga.

    Well done, Aaron – you got this completely right.

  • Diane Cook

    The way I look at it…national commentators who see so many different teams during the season are impressed with the Zags team this year. If UW wasn't so afraid to play them, as had done in previous years, we'd give them a whoopin' for sure. They are given national recognition, have a very respectable RPI, and will be at the dance again for how many years in a row…I've lost count.

    Sorry Aaron, but you shouldn't have dissed a team that has respectibility throughout the nation but doesn't get any respect from the "west" side…why don't you do a commentary on the Huskies…oh that's right, there isn't anything at all to say, is there?

    No matter if we win the dance out go out in whatever round, the Zags have earned and deserve respect.

    Diane Cook

  • Devin

    I don't agree. As a mid major conference, the WCC holds a respectable 4 teams in the top 100 RPI, while a power 6 conference like the Pac12 holds 8. That is not to say that the WCC is good, but they hold some OK teams in SMC, BYU, and SCU. There are top teams that lose to weak competition all the time. Kansas to TCU (228 RPI) or Miami to Wake Forest (146 RPI), but GU takes these "easy" games and continues to make them look easy, winning against SCU by 43 (90 RPI), who only lost by 13 to Duke on the road, or by 17 against SMC (43 RPI) on the road.. The Zags have had trouble in the tournament the past years, yes, but this is College, not pros, every year players come and go, teams are never the same as they were the year before. You give the respect they deserve for doing what they've done this year. They are averaging a 20.5 winning margin in league play. Their two losses have an RPI of 33 and 31 (One of which was a fluke bone head loss). They deserve the ranking and seeding because of what they have done this year, and how they have done it, not how they lost in past years with different players.

  • Diane Cook

    Hey Aaron…check out the Zag homepage on fb…in Times Square they were running a ticker that said, "Gonzaga moves to no. 2 in AP poll for the first time in school history." I'm sure they were going to mention the Huskies, but…..

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