Zag fans, I want us to take a breath and reassess what the goal(s) of our program is/are. An analogous situation would be to look at an organization's mission statement. Once we have decided what the goals of our basketball program are, let's talk about whether we are going about getting there in the right way. Our goals could be to win the WCC and therefore advance to the NCAA tournament. Maybe a victory or two that may come in the tournament would be icing on the cake. Our goal could be to put a competitive team on the floor and graduate players. In that case, a WCC title, etc could be a bonus. Our goal could be to win a national championship. I believe that Mark Few has veered the direction of the program toward this later goal. I would argue that we're not going about it in the right way. It is in this facet that I would criticize Few as a coach. A transition to national prominence for Gonzaga basketball is brutally difficult as we as fans all know. Again, like a business analogy, we're a small town community hardware store going national. There are wonderful examples of transitions like this and also other nightmare examples. I think the ills of our team all originate with Gonzaga basketball going big-time. I truly believe it can happen, but not using the current formula. Remember, Duke Univ for example barely has a larger student body than Gonzaga. Small schools can excel in college basketball, unlike in football.
1) our early season schedule has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Our kids get blasted by the schedule. The travel alone would debilitate a normal person. Of course the competition is awesome. This season, the early season had no flow to it. It was just a mish mash of games all over the country. At least, the early season needs to have a sense to it, a strategy to it- leading to a couple of "big" games. I remember our incredible win over NC with a young Josh Heyfelt overpowering Tyler Hansbrough. Or the heartbreaking loss to UConn. Our big win over MichSt. The UConn loss was truly a body blow to that team, but it had more of a natural feel.
2) I question whether we can truly think about a national championship, while playing in the WCC. We overschedule early because our league is so quirky. We overschedule early to attract recruits. We overschedule early to prep our kids for tournament type opponents. In my opinion, the overscheduling is not working on any of these fronts. (actually what it is doing is showing us early on, is that we are not consistent and/or ready for primetime) Are we getting bigtime recruits? It looks like we're still getting obscure west coast players, Canadian players, and International players. Sorry for my bias folks, but I'm from Wash DC, and what we need are some tougher, city type players. Derek Ravio, Jeremy Pargo. We've got a bunch of pretty boys. You cannot have a nationally renowned program without a tough point guard. We have not been doing well in the tournament either. We enter the WCC schedule tired and beatup and we never regain our top form by tournament time.
I wish there was an alternative to the WCC. I wish a strong western basketball league could be formed. Remember the original Big East was purely a basketball league. For example, Georgetown had Div III football. Villanova had no football at all when the league formed. Syracuse was a national football powerhouse.
In my mind, the root of all evil is our shift toward national prominence. It is not working on any level, for anyone. Worst of all, I see the players suffering. We're expecting these players to give us what they are not capable of giving us. Calvary, Santangelo. They were tough, gritty warriors. That's the style of play that we all want again. "The Slipper Still Fits" applies to that Gonzaga. Overachievers. We celebrate people pulling together and reaching their highest level of achievement. That's what Gonzaga basketball stands for.