Wins matter, but not as much as who they come against, so it's not surprising that after Gonzaga charged to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament the Bulldogs are considered one of the best women's basketball teams in the country.
Well, the website tha tis ranking the Top 100 programs in the country, released No. 11-25 today and the Zags check in at No. 22. (Read the previous links to see the other criteria used in ranking programs.)
When you check out those 15 names - for example Iowa is No. 23, Texas Tech is No. 21, you're going to find some of the biggests names in the sport. There's North Carolina, Purdue and Texas, there's Rutgers, LSU and LSU, there's Ohio State, Vandy and Georgia.
That's pretty heady company and James Bowman of Swish Appeal, calls the Zags “the best women's basketball program in the Pacific Northwest.” Arizona State, UCLA, Utah, New Mexico and Montana, among the traditional strong teams in the West, didn't even make the top 25. Washington, which was once pretty good, didn't make the Top 100.
That's impressive. And here's why, according to Bowman: “It's going to be hard for the Zags to top what they did last season. Seven straight West Coast Conference titles, and the second year undefeated in conference play. A 31-win season, and an Elite Eight season, and a top three WNBA Draft Pick in G Courtney Vandersloot, who came close to sending Gonzaga to the Final Four through sheer willpower. The hype put Gonzaga in the top 25 of NCAA women's basketball attendance.
“Gonzaga knew what was good for it, and signed coach Kelly Graves to a 10-year contract extension. But how much of it was a perfect storm? Having one of the top three seniors in the country and playing a regional semifinal on your own homecourt? Graves might have been tempted into take the job at Washington, but keeping Gonzaga on top might be as much of a challenge as resurrecting the Huskies. Lucky for Graves he just picked up G Taelor Karr who averaged 10.3 points last year at Kansas State…and due to the circumstances that led to her transfer, the NCAA made the decision to grant Karr immediate eligibility at Gonzaga rather than making her wait a year.”
No question Graves and the Zags deserve the recognition and the fans are joining in. After finishing in the top 25 in attendance, they've set a record for season tickets of more than 4,000. It should be another entertaining season for the Bulldogs.