In 2017, the Gonzaga Bulldogs nearly made it through the regular season undefeated. They then bullied their way through the NCAA Tournament to the first Final Four in team history. After defeating South Carolina to face the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels for the first national championship in school history, it truly seemed like this was a team of destiny.
We all know how it turns out. The initial rage came against the referees. At the same time, there were plenty of missed calls combined with too many fouls called to make this a rather hard basketball game to watch. The phantom fourth foul on Zach Collins doesn’t get any easier to watch the second time. Same with the zoomed in shot of Kennedy Meeks fighting for the ball with his hand out of bounds.
On a second watch, however, the real story is that the Zags just couldn’t hit the easiest shots, and that is what makes it so difficult to swallow. Przemek Karnowski, a mountain of a man who was automatic at the rim, was 1-for-8 in the game. Nigel Williams-Goss, who spent the year making creative floater after creative mid-range jumper, was 5-of-17. This game hurts so much to watch it because Gonzaga didn’t shoot themselves in the foot, they didn’t play poorly, they just flat out missed easy shots.
Watching this game, thinking about the what-ifs, I couldn’t help but think about this season. That process is a fool’s errand. The 2020 NCAA Tournament just could not happen. At the time, it seemed questionable, but as COVID-19 has rampaged throughout the nation, it is clear the NCAA made the right decision for once in their lifetime.
But seeing this posted by Corey Kispert today made the brain go down the rabbit hole it is not supposed to go down.
In 2017, the Zags had their best chance to win the NCAA Championship. In 2020, arguably, the Zags also had one of their best chances to win the NCAA Championship. The only difference between the two years is that one time we found out for certain it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not sure at this moment which is a better outcome honestly, knowing full well that you fell short or wondering if you could go the whole way?
Either way, a big thanks to Steven, Keith and everyone that partook in this haphazard experiment. Now, officially, the season is over, and we can segue to our regularly scheduled postseason #content.