Not to make too much of the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, afterall, the Zags are just one of four D-I teams on our property, but, let’s face it - this team is poised for the best season any of our teams have ever had.
Of course, last year probably already qualifies as the best-ever since GU became the first local program to make it to the NCAA Tournament a second time and the first to win a NCAA Tournament game.
However, this team should be better. First though, we take you back to ESPN.com, which ranks the Zags No. 1 among mid-majors, lists Friday’s season-opener at South Dakota State as one of the more and has Heather Bowman as the No. 2 power forward and Courtney Vandersloot the No. 5 point guard in player rankings, which make for an interesting debate. All that just three days after a bunch more national pub.
How far as GU’s program come?
In Kelly Graves’ first season the Bulldogs were 0-14 in the West Coast Conference and 2-12 the next. The third season was 9-5 and since then they have lost a total of 11 league games in six seasons, only seven the last five. In the past five seasons, GU is 63-7 in leauge play, 21 games better than the No. 2 WCC team and 20 few losses overall than the next best team (and 25 wins better).
Only four other schools - Stanford, Marist, Green Bay, Chattanooga - have won four league titles in a row (GU has five).
Meanwhile, Gonzaga’s non-league schedule has gone national and in a hat’s off to women’s basketball coaches, SEC (Tennessee), Big 10 (Purdue), Big East (Marquette) and Pac-10 (Arizona State, UW, USC this year, Stanford next year) teams have come to Spokane. Meanwhile, other Mid-Major power programs like Utah of the Mountain West, Montana of the Big Sky and Santa Barbara of the Big West, South Dakota State of the Horizon schedule GU.
No other Northwest team in the past five seasons (GU 120-44, Boise State 89-65) or seven seasons (GU 156-68, UW 112-101) is remotely close to Gonzaga’s success. Of course there is some apples-to-oranges here since the Pac-10 and the WCC are two different fruits, but it’s clear the Bulldogs are currently the dominate team in the Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
And the Zags are catching on. Topped by a sellout last year when Tennessee visited, there have been 10 crowds in excess of 2,600 since McCarthey opened in 2004-5 and last week an exhibition game drew more than 2,000.
We’re not promoting Gonzaga, just bringing your attention to what is happening.