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GU reaches No. 1

An historic day for Gonzaga, which earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history.

The Zags topped the AP and USA Today polls by fairly comfortable margins. We had an early story on the website Monday morning (find it below) and an expanded version later Monday. Hoping this link works for a look at the front page of Tuesday's S-R:

Assistant coach Tommy Lloyd filled in for coach Mark Few, who went fishing. Lloyd fielded questions wearing a Run DMC t-shirt, which someone confused for Run SMC (Saint Mary's College). The coach quickly pointed out the 'D'  in DMC.

Check back tomorrow. All-WCC teams and individual honors will be released Tuesday with media day later in the afternoon.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have gone where no Zags have gone before.

The Bulldogs reached No. 1 in the AP men’s basketball poll Monday for the first time in program history. Gonzaga (29-2) received 51 first-place votes and 1,607 points to outdistance No. 2 Indiana (seven first-place votes, 1,517 points).

The Bulldogs were No. 2 last week, at the time the school’s highest AP ranking. Gonzaga was No. 3 late in the 2004 season. Indiana, last week’s No. 1, dropped after losing to Minnesota and defeating Iowa. Duke stayed put at No. 3 following a 1-1 week.

“It’s a good feeling knowing people respect you and respect your game and what we’ve done so far,” said junior forward Kelly Olynyk, when asked after Saturday’s win over Portland about the possibility of being No. 1. “It’s not the end all. We still have to come out and play.

“It’s nothing but a number. It’s a great number to have beside your name, but it’s nothing but a number. We still have to play like we can and take this as far as we can.”

Gonzaga, which was No. 21 in the preseason poll, is the fifth different team to be ranked No. 1 this season. Indiana and Duke each had two turns at the top. Louisville and Michigan had one-week stays at No. 1 in January.

“It’s a great honor,” senior forward Elias Harris said. “It’s way harder for us as a so-called mid major and a conference that everybody thinks is weaker, but we’ve worked hard every day to be in this position. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t keep playing the way we are.”

The Bulldogs have won 12 straight games, avoiding a wave of upsets involving top 10 teams in recent weeks. Gonzaga is the No. 1 seed in the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. The Bulldogs have a bye into Saturday’s semifinals.

“It’s awesome and very cool to be recognized like that,” senior wing Mike Hart said. “I’ll look back on that once my career is over and think that’s pretty cool we were No. 1 in the nation. But we have so much more in front of us that we want to do and that (ranking) has no bearing on our next game.”

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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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