Each loss in March always seems like the hardest loss to stomach in a new and interesting way. In the end, they are each replaced by some other memory. I can’t but help feel that inevitably, this will end up the same way. We will all remember the amazing Final Four game because we choose to, and most of us will forget the dud against Baylor because we have to.
We can’t say Gonzaga was this close to finishing an undefeated season because the moment Baylor corralled the first jump ball, it was all over. In the first seven minutes of play, Baylor would take 11 trips down the court and scored 23 points. Gonzaga was shell-shocked from the beginning, and at that point, the game was already over. It was pretty clear the Zags wouldn’t be winning, it was just a question of how bad they would lose.
That hurts. It is disappointing, because for 31 out of 32 games this season, the Zags looked immortal. Their offense flowed like a river of aged fine wine. Their attitude was energetic, character-driven, and endearing. This was a team that was a blast to root for, and for a bit, it really seemed like it was all coming together.
That is where the real disappointment lies for me. I’ve said all year that in a 10-game series between Gonzaga and Baylor, it would end in five wins a piece, and to be fair, I still think that. As good as Baylor looked to start the game, there was an immense amount of help from Gonzaga looking absolutely terrible. When Baylor stormed out to that quick 9-0 lead, the game was done—the entire attitude and mentality needed to win had slipped out of the Zags’ hands completely. How do you reconcile with the fact you are down 15 points in seven minutes against one of the better offenses and defenses in the country? Remember USC? Now we know how they felt.
I always try and find some olive branch or something positive to hang my head on. Life is too short to be constantly disappointed by something in the end as meaningless as sports. My own life advice is proving hard to swallow at the moment, but no matter what, I am still amazed at what this year has provided us.
I consider the fact that over 12 months ago, I was sent home from work because a bubbling virus was percolating in nearby Kirkland, Washington. I was ecstatic. I watched the WCC Championship game with friends and was fully prepared for a “work from home” March Madness tournament. Then the world completely turned upside down and, for the most part, has remained that way since. We’ve all lost something during this time. Some of us family members, jobs, life moments, sanity, and everything else. There is no denying that all aspects of life over the past year have been incredibly difficult on a mental and emotional level.
To that end, to witness what we saw this season, tonight’s loss included, is amazing. There have been few good things that have pulled me out of bed over the past year, but gameday was just its own special thing. These Zags were one of a kind. I’m fully depressed at the moment that it has ended this way, but I can’t begin to even understand how necessary this lone bit of positivity over the past few months was for my personal well-being—I doubt I am alone in this factor.
As always, I want to thank my fellow writers on this site, all of the commenters, and everyone who ever steps foot into Gonzaga fandom. This season was an absolute blast to cover, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (alright I would, with a win tonight). This ragtag crew of rabid fans are some of the most die-hard in the world and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else. Take care of each other. Take care of yourselves. We’ll bounce back. We always do. Some day, we won’t have to bounce back, we’ll just get to party.