SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s been an off season full of twists and turns for pretty much every collegiate basketball team in the country.
Not every team, though, has the ceiling of the Gonzaga Bulldogs this season.
"Obviously, you look around and you see the talent that is coming in from the freshmen to the guys who have a year of experience under their belt, and it’s really exciting," said Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert.
The Zags are ranked No. 1 in the country by several preseason polls.
Kispert couldn’t pass this season and this team up, even if he had a chance to go to the NBA this off season.
"It’s really easy to want to be a part of it. Joel and I made that decision. As far as things look right now, I think it’s going to be the best decision for the both of us," said Kispert.
It was certainly the best decision for the team, as they desperately needed a senior leader this season.
Corey said leading on the court in the age of COVID is pretty similar. However, off it is a different story.
"It’s all different off the court. How often we’re able to hang around different players, different people, being smart with our social time, and who we see is a huge challenge in the leadership part for this year. It’s kind of a difficult thing to navigate around, especially with the guys who are coming in who are freshmen. They kind need that from the team, that family atmosphere that we pride ourselves on. We’re doing the best we can, and the guys are coming along really well," said the Washington native.
They need to come along well.
Gonzaga will hit the ground running this season, as they’ll start their schedule against preseason top 10 team Kansas on November 25.
They’ll also take on Baylor, Iowa, and Tennessee—all teams ranked in multiple preseason top 25 polls. Gonzaga and Baylor are pretty much the unanimous top two teams coming into the season.
"The difference between this year and years past is that there’s no tune up games. You've got to be ready to go from the first minute of the first game. It’s going to be against a really good team. We have to make sure that we’re ready in practice, doing everything we can to make sure our guys are ready to go and up to speed," said Kispert.
What happens after non-conference play though remains up in the air.
There’s been some rumblings that the WCC may opt to have conference play in a bubble in Vegas. Corey said he’s up for whatever the conference decides to do.
"These guys are working day and night to figure this thing out. If we can get a way for us to play in a healthy way, and if that’s in Vegas for two or three weeks at a time, then so be it," said Kispert.