The best part about starting the blog when we did is that now we can do tons of “of the decade” posts if we so choose. Today, I’m choosing to make a lot of enemies by exposing Gonzaga as the fraud they are.
In 1999, Gonzaga rode a 10 seed past Minnesota, Stanford and Florida, and eventually succumbed to national champion UConn. The next year, Minnesota made the hilarious mistake of offering then Gonzaga coach Dan Monson the coaching job, which set up the Mark Few era.
In his first year, Few took the Zags to the Sweet 16 as a 10 seed yet again. But perhaps Gonzaga was overseeded as they went just 11-5 nonconference and didn’t even win the WCC. But, they won the WCC tournament and then beat Louisville and St. Johns in the first two rounds of the tournament.
The next year, Gonzaga went 24-6, but they lost two games against top 10 opponents and beefed up on an unimpressive non-conference schedule and the WCC. They won the WCC tournament and earned a 12 seed. They beat the 5 seed, which happens all the time, and then got to face 13th seeded Indiana State in the 2nd round, whom they defeated before losing to Michigan State.
In 2002, Gonzaga went 29-3, losing games only to Illinois, Marquette and Pepperdine. But they were only given a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This prompted many people (morons), including myself, to pick them to go far in their brackets. But Gonzaga got exposed for the frauds they were, losing to #11 seed Wyoming 73-66.
In 2004, Gonzaga piled up yet another huge record against mostly weaklings (although they did beat Mizzou when they were ranked #3) and had a 27-2 record heading into the NCAA Tournament and a #2 seed, which led to many pundits tapping them for a Final Four. But in true Gonzaga fashion they went down in the 2nd round to 10th seeded Nevada. And they didn’t just lose, they lost 91-72. Blake Stepp, who had been getting some player of the year love, was 3-18 and a ridiculously crippling 1-12 on three pointers. They only had 10 turnovers, but their defense, their weak spot all year, only forced 8 Nevada turnovers. They were 306th nationally at forcing turnovers that year, and it bit them when they finally had to play a quality opponent.
You could forgive the committee for being fooled in 2005. Gonzaga beat 14th ranked Washington, and Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State when they were both #3 in the country. Gonzaga was rewarded with a #3 seed, probably about right that year since they beat quality opponents but also play in the WCC. They lost in the 2nd round to Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2nd round. Defense was yet again that team’s downfall, as they were 121st in adjusted efficiency and 317th in forcing turnovers.
In 2006, Gonzaga finally made it back to the Sweet 16, but then suffered a choke of epic proportions. After being up 17 in the second half, UCLA won 73-71. That Gonzaga team was the best team in the country offensively but, big surprise, sucked at defense. They were 178th in efficiency and 312th at forcing turnovers. That UCLA comeback led to the epic scene of Adam Morrison crying at midcourt.
The next two years Gonzaga didn’t even make it out of the 1st round, and one year failed to win the WCC tournament. In 2009, Gonzaga had a good season in the WCC, but barely beat anyone outside of conference. Then, they were gifted a 2nd round win by the refs before being demolished by North Carolina.
What do all these seasons have in common? Domination of a lesser conference, lost against a lot of the good teams they played, were overseeded in the NCAA tournament, and suffered “upsets” to teams that they were no better than in the first place. Gonzaga as a program isn’t going to get any better. Why? For one, the conference they play in. No elite recruit is going to (or should) want to play in the WCC in gyms with 4,000 people when they can play in bigger gyms against better teams in the Pac 10. People also cite that Gonzaga is often on Big Monday. Well, so what. They are on at midnight when no one is watching. Hardly an argument. Last but not least, kids these days go to college to play in the NBA. Who is the best Gonzaga player to go to the NBA? Adam Morrison was a top 5 pick but he flamed out, Dan Dickau was OK, Blake Stepp sucked, Derek Raivio sucked, and Rony Turiaf maybe could be a good role player without his heart condition.
So there you have it. Soon the elite recruits are going to dry up and Mark Few is going to move on and Gonzaga will go back to being recognized for what it always was: the best team in a terrible conference.