The story of how Gonzaga basketball rose to prominence in the national landscape of college basketball is a story worth telling, but it is also a hard story to tell, mainly because the story hasn’t finished yet. It all began in 1999, but there hasn’t been a conclusion quite yet, as the elusive Final Four and beyond appearance dogs the Bulldogs, who year after year keep finding themselves in the NCAA Tournament.
That doesn’t mean the story can’t be told yet, and Bud Withers does a fantastic job of providing one of the most comprehensive books on what makes Gonzaga in his newest book Glory Hounds.
The rest of the title is “How a Small Northwest School Reshaped College Basketball. And Itself,” which seems a tad bit dramatic, but Withers makes that point throughout: what Gonzaga did in 1999 and beyond changed college basketball forever. The slipper still fit at the time, but the Zags have outgrown their slippers and are needing something a bit more Shrek-sized.
Chapter after chapter, Withers details how the program got to where it is today, talking with every key member each time. The book is laid out in chronological order, and dives right into the potential end of a story before the story even begins: when the Zags were hit with NCAA infractions at the end of Dan Fitzgerald’s tenure.
Along the way, Withers takes the time to detail how the program grew with intention, which is just as much an ingredient for success at Gonzaga as the next high-rated recruit to come to Spokane. Withers is a knowledgeable guy on the annals of Gonzaga (this is his second-book on the team after all), but the timing of this publication fits in perfectly. He is able to stick with the team all the way through last season’s rocky year, and closes it out with a nice smattering of hot-button questions everyone likes to ask.
The book isn’t necessarily for Gonzaga fans, because the story of the little school that could is interesting enough to appeal to college hoops fans across the nation. For fans of the Zags, the book offers more insight than anything else short of interviewing Mark Few yourself can. Although HBO’s documentary series last season was entertaining, it was limited in its scope for informational purposes. Withers has access to coaches, players, and faculty members. The interview with Nigel Williams-Goss is eye-opening, and the overall chapter on recruiting is one of the most informative topics on why Gonzaga does what it does.
If you are a fan, this book is a must own. As the team continues its march into undefeated territory, Withers might have to release a quick update after the end of the season, because the story of Gonzaga basketball is always evolving. Glory Hounds is your best bet to get access to the story so far.
“Glory Hounds” can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.