Mark Few is often lauded as one of the better coaches in the college landscape. But when it comes to game time, all that can be said about him is his stellar win-percentage and how he has helped take the Gonzaga Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament 18 consecutive times.
Through all the good times during the greater part of the past two decades, Few has never won any national coach of the year honors. Sure, he has been given the distinction by the West Coast Conference ten times, but on the national stage, there hasn’t been a peep.
That needs to change, especially this season.
The job that Coach Few has done with the 2016-17 Gonzaga Bulldogs is nothing short of a miracle. Consider the players that Few lost from last year’s squad: Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Dranginis and Eric McClellan.
That was 70 percent of the scoring and 88.6 of the rebounding of last year. That was the two senior glue guys in Dranginis and McClellan, the team’s best defender in McClellan, and the entire frontcourt in Wiltjer and Sabonis.
Sure, Few had an all-star cast joining up. He had McDonald’s All-American Zach Collins joining the ranks. He had Washington Huskies transfer Nigel Williams-Goss, Missouri transfer Johnathan Williams III and California transfer Jordan Mathews joining the fold. He had imports from three different countries: France (Killian Tillie), Denmark (Jacob Larsen) and Japan (Rui Hachimura) all stopping in to say hello.
Of the 14 man squad, even including the deep bench guys, only seven of the players saw time on the court in a Gonzaga jersey last season.
That is quite some molding job done by Few and the rest of the coaching staff, but then again, they have gotten used to this kind of thing. Chemistry is the name of the game for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and the Gonzaga way gets instilled in each player, no matter what country they come from.
Few has molded this team into an offensively and defensively efficient juggernaut. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the only team to be ranked in the top 5 in both of Ken Pomeroy’s offensive and defensive efficiency rankings.
This is a team that has taken every single punch every single team has thrown it, and dusted off the blow. There is a legitimate chance the Gonzaga Bulldogs enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.
There are a lot of good basketball coaching jobs this season, but few other programs had as many question marks as the Zags did when the season began. The fact that Mark Few has turned every single one of those question marks into an explanation mark is a testament to the job he has done this season, and it is finally about time he gets some recognition for it.