Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

 
Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

by Amy Lignor

 

“Beauty & the Beast” may be raking in the dough at movie theatres everywhere, but it is the Princess Cinderella that appears at the core of the NCAA headlines.

 NCAA headlines, Cinderella Teams, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Mark Few, Zags, Duke, Final Four 2017We all have our “Cinderella Teams.” Heck, they even made a movie after the Hoosiers who once set the world on fire. But as this weekend winds down, it is the Gonzaga Bulldogs that find themselves ready to put on the glass slipper, or watch their ‘coach’ turn back into a pumpkin, depending on what their near future fate turns out to be.

Those who can remember 1998-99, remember that the Gonzaga Bulldogs were also a Cinderella team back then. Being the 10th seed in the Sweet Sixteen match-ups, they went on to lose (like so many others have over time) to the Connecticut Huskies (67-62). Connecticut (most especially the women) became used to being the No. 1 seed, but this season may just be Gonzaga’s chance.

 

As of Saturday, the “Gonzaga Phenomenon” took over the airwaves. Coach Mark Few, who was actually serving as assistant during the first Cinderella moment for this team, told everyone this time around that Gonzaga did not want to be “a one-hit wonder.”

 

It’s not like the Zags were hideous since 1998/99, by the way. It was in 2006 that they scored like there was no tomorrow…unfortunately, for them, there actually turned out not to be. It was in 2013 that they were officially the No.1 seed going into the Sweet 16, yet they banged their heads up against Wichita State and had to say goodbye. In 2015, the Zags once again arrived but lost to what eventually turned out to be the national champions, Duke, during the Elite Eight.

 

This time, Few has built the team into one that has the numbers and the players to win it all. On Saturday night at the SAP Center, they finally got over the “proverbial hump” and celebrated their first entrance into the Final Four. Not only that, the game they played was not even close. We are talking a game between the Zags and 11th seeded Xavier that ended 83-59 – a lot like the Connecticut female games usually end up being.

 

The net was finally cut down by Gonzaga hands, with Few taking the rest and then turning on the top step of the ladder, where he screamed down to his team: “Might as well win it!”

 

The team screamed back, letting the world know the Gonzaga Bulldogs are more than ready to snag that national title. Unlike, however, normal Cinderella teams in the past that really did look too naïve to understand the point of it all, the Zags look very put together and most definitely have the right amount of talent needed to make Spokane, Washington more than proud.

 

Even Few stated that this current squad’s ability “to really, really protect the rim at a high level” is different than in the past, and having the defense hold the No. 1 ranking through the entire tournament in adjusted defensive efficiency backed up that remark.

 

So…what will happen now? Many of the so-called “experts” are coming together to say that even though Gonzaga has given the NCAA a “Cinderella” story this year, the Final Four is exactly how far they’re going to get. This is the first time since 1995 that the Final Four is being played west of Texas, so it makes complete sense to see an East vs. West battle for it all. But, in the end, the experts say that Kentucky has too many weapons for anyone to take them down, not even a “princess” waiting to be crowned.

 

Keep one thing in mind, however. These are also experts who said that the Atlanta Falcons would have no problem bringing down Tom Brady and the Patriots to nab the Super Bowl title this year. See how that worked out?

 

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