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The morning after

For me, the sun is shining, and that helps.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Gonzaga vs Texas Tech Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

There is one thing I learned how to do successfully a few years after Gonzaga loses: log off.

I close down Twitter. I close down my computer. I close down everything and I just try and process what happened. Then I go to bed, and I wake up the following morning. Because, ultimately, when grieving, one of the hardest things to work around is how the world continues to turn despite you wanting it to stop.

And we can toss about ideas like grief, because for some of us, that is what we are actively doing. We are grieving the loss. We are grieving the end of the season. We are grieving the Gonzaga careers of Josh Perkins, Jeremy Jones, Geno Crandall, and potentially the careers of Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, and Killian Tillie.

It is all about perspective, as well.

In the 2017 season, the national championship fell on the anniversary of my father’s death, and that day, for me, basketball wasn’t the most important thing in the world. Yesterday, I texted one of my friends after the game a simple message of “brutal.” This morning, I woke up and she had responded, saying she hadn’t watched the game, but accompanied it with a photo of her brand new baby. For us, as fans, there are things bigger than the game itself.

For the players, they don’t necessarily have that luxury. I challenge you to watch this and not have a tear come to your eye. Yesterday, I felt crushed. These players, who do what they do for free, for our entertainment, felt devastated.

I personally like to try and look on the brighter side of things. Part of that stems from my lifelong upbringing as a Seattle Mariners fan, in which I had no choice but to search for the brighter side of things.

Arguably, for the first time this year, Gonzaga was treated nationally as an elite level team from beginning to end. The Zags began the season with their highest ranking in AP history. The Zags hit No. 1 on separate occasions. The Zags were awarded a No. 1 seed for all of their troubles.

We are in the midst of the peak of the program at this very moment. Since Josh Perkins took over at the helm, the Zags have made three Elite Eights and five-straight Sweet 16s as well as the first Final Four and national championship appearance in school history. The one thing missing, the national title, is a bit of a buzzkill, but I would argue no title is harder to win in any sport than surviving six games in March.

Next year, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will welcome the most highly-rated recruiting class in school history. The Zags will also lose a lot of players, and the genetic makeup of the squad will be borderline unrecognizable from this season.

Which brings us back to the worst part about grief. As the world keeps turning, the years of college basketball keep turning as well. It is important to find the time to sit within that discomfort and remember everything that transpired.

For me, that means remembering that the past five months have been the most entertaining Gonzaga team I’ve ever seen take the court. This season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were considered one of the top teams in college basketball. When I graduated from GU over a decade ago, I never would’ve expected the Zags to roll through a five-year swing like we’ve experienced, let alone even be respected enough in the first place.

Two years ago, the Zags were in the national championship and I said that is the most fun I’ve had watching the squad. This year, personally, surpassed 2017 in terms of flat out entertainment and raw enjoyment. It has been a treat. That is what will be on the tip of my memory as I walk out into the sunshine today.

I would also like to give a special shoutout to Steven, Arden, Keith, Megan, and AgeDude for contributing excellent pieces to the site this year. Also a big shoutout to our sometimes dysfunctional but basically great community of commenters and participants here. We have our ups and downs, but there isn’t a better place to talk Gonzaga on the internet.