Here we are again.
Another regular season in the books for Gonzaga and another WCC regular season title to hoist in the trophy case.
It's boring, right?
It's boring to see a team win 17 out of the last 18 regular season conference titles. It's boring to see a team reach the NCAA tournament 20 straight times. It's boring to see success over and over and over again. Luckily for Mark Few, his team fights complacency on a weekly basis, as for everyone else surrounding this program, that's probably a different story.
College basketball fans nationally, and locally, are not giving the 2017-2018 Bulldogs enough respect as this season comes to a close.
So, let's ask a fairly easy question off the bat:
Why are fans complacent in 2018?
Well, no shocker here, this team is unfairly living in the shadows of the greatest squad we've witnessed in Spokane. Not only did last year's team threaten perfection with a No. 1 ranking in the polls, but it almost earned a National Championship.
Once in awhile, a bevy of national media outlets descend on the Lilac City to build up the hype surrounding this small school in the Inland Northwest doing big things. Last year's team got all that publicity, but what about this year? What about this team? You know what we've heard?
Next to nothing.
The Zags beat Saint Mary's in Moraga and all of the sudden we saw a couple of articles sprout up. (Matt Norlander's article is a good example)
I think many fans in Spokane like to think Gonzaga is this monster in the world of college basketball, which it is to an extent, don't get me wrong, but just because this program has a great resume on paper doesn't mean the respect-level is quite there yet.
It started at the beginning of the year, honestly. Remember that WCC preseason poll? Gonzaga, who came off a 37-win season was predicted to finish second in the West Coast Conference behind Saint Mary's. Mark Few harkened back to that prediction and the difficulty of winning the conference year-in and year-out after the win at BYU Saturday.
"Every (conference title) has been hard. I mean every single one of them including this year--we weren't even picked to win it this year coming off a National Championship game. I think there was a lot of doubt out there especially when we dropped that first one (against) Saint Mary's, but this group of guys deserve all the credit."
They deserve a ton of credit.
This team lost eight players from last year's Final Four team and out of those eight guys, four played significant minutes. Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Mathews, Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins were four of the team's top-5 scorers and rebounders from a year ago.
It's easy to make the assumption that because Gonzaga lost so much on the court, this team just won't be as good, but that's low-hanging fruit as far as analyzing the 2018 Zags. Not many national pundits believe Gonzaga is at the point where they can compete for a title every year. They're not considered a blue-blood.
Heck, we just saw 10 semifinalists for coach of the year and Mark Few was not one of them. How? How is a coach who lost so much, whose team could be ranked in the top-5 Monday afternoon not considered a semifinalist?
Naismith National Coach of the Year Semifinalists.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Chris Beard, Texas Tech
Tony Bennett, Virginia
Brad Brownell, Clemson
Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Chris Holtmann, Ohio State
Chris Mack, Xavier
Matt Painter, Purdue
Bruce Pearl, Auburn
Jay Wright, Villanova— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) February 23, 2018
Which leads me to another question for all the Gonzaga fans in our area, I want you to ask yourself:
Am I giving this team enough credit? Am I enjoying this season as much as I should?
Let's start with the record. Gonzaga is currently 27-4 with at least two or three more wins on the way barring some crazy upset in the WCC tournament.
So let's be conservative and say the Zags reach 30 wins this year. The Bulldogs have only had a 30-plus win season three times in program history.
Also, if Silas Melson can average .1 more point per contest, for the first time Gonzaga will have six different scorers average double-digit points.
In addition, this team features three bona fide NBA prospects in Johnathan Williams, Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura.
Only a handful of Gonzaga teams have actually had the talent to make a deep run in the March Madness tournament and this is one of them.
This program wasn't built on complacency and for those fans who have seen Gonzaga rise to prominence these past 20 years, you know that winning is fun.
Winning is not easy.
And for darn sure winning should never be boring.