| March 22, 2018

Column: Gonzaga Glides Early On

December 8, 2016

In September, I advised readers to keep an eye on the Gonzaga men’s basketball team.

I’m here to revise my statement  — keep both eyes on the Bulldogs.

College basketball fans across the country should provide Gonzaga with their full attention because Coach Mark Few’s team has done everything to deserve it.

The program’s Cinderella story of years past is but a whisper these days. Currently ranked eighth in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, Gonzaga holds a comfortable position, so far.

The Bulldogs boast a 9-0 record as of Wednesday, when they all but mopped the floor with Washington. The Zags led by 34 at one point in the game, eventually prevailing with a 98-71 victory.

As per usual, the Kennel was packed.

In September, I predicted Gonzaga’s big man, Przemek Karnowski, who sat out last season with a back injury, would make all the difference this year. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t entirely right. Nigel Williams-Goss and McDonald’s All-American Zach Collins have contributed heavily to the team’s scoring effort. As far as the defensive end of play, it’s undoubtedly a team effort. The hustle plays of Few’s legacy are more present than ever.

This team is playing well, and they’ll continue doing so, on both ends of the court.

Over the years, Gonzaga’s schedule has featured bigger and bigger names. Easing into conference play won’t be easing at all this season, and that’s how Few seems to like it.

In the coming days, the Bulldogs will face Akron and Tennessee — both on the road. Pepperdine, Santa Clara and even BYU won’t know what hit them when it comes time to face the West Coast Conference’s not-so-Cinderella team.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research recently announced teams that will compete in the 2017 Jimmy V Classic: defending national champions Villanova, recent champions UConn, notorious powerhouse Syracuse and none other than Gonzaga. The doubleheader, an effort by ESPN to raise funds for cancer research, is set to take place Dec. 5, 2017.

To be listed among these teams is a testament to the program’s growth. The Zags have built a legacy of consistency with a direct payout —18 straight NCAA tournament appearances — and I’d safely put money down on a 19th straight appearance this year.

Being invited to the Jimmy V Classic is a nod to Few, his program and his ever-improving team.

I’ll be enjoying my holiday break beside my Christmas tree, lounging in my pajamas and happily cheering on my Bulldogs. I know most of the Pacific Northwest will be.

Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert

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