Gonzaga seems to have the hang of this year-after-the-year thing. Long recognized nationally for its string of 19 straight NCAA Tournaments, the Zags have moved into the forefront the last five years with arguably the three best seasons in program history.
2017-18 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
New-look Gonzaga has familiar goal: NCAA or bust
Once upon a time long, long ago in college basketball, there was a pretty uniform look to recruiting: junior college prospects to fill instant needs, freshmen for “program players.” There was also, with the enrollment of each recruiting class, a sense of plotting toward a grail.
Several improvements have already debuted, including the new center-hung scoreboard and two new end-wall videoboards inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
A mix of established veterans and promising talents are the key names on Gonzaga’s roster for the 2018 season.
The West Coast Conference has already seen its Upset of the Year. It came in October when nine of the league’s head coaches made Saint Mary’s their pick to finish atop the regular-season standings.
For all the time they spend wearing down their bodies with shuttle sprints, hill runs and VersaClimber intervals, the Washington State Cougars probably had their most exhaustive cardio program of the 2016-17 season in an actual game, against Creighton at the Paradise Jam.
Clutching a purple-colored pad close to his chest, Mike Hopkins looked like a modern-day basketball gladiator as he directed a layup drill at a recent practice. “Hit me!” the new Washington men’s basketball coach barked. “Run through and finish!”
The FBI turned college basketball upside down, and cast a big shadow over the 2018 Pac-12 season.
Eastern Washington basketball coach Shantay Legans is expecting great things next spring.
Picked by the Big Sky Conference coaches and media to win the league this year, the University of Idaho Vandals can either shrink from the challenge or embrace it.
The Tar Heels enter the season as the reigning national champion after spending last year chasing another shot following a crushing loss in the 2016 final. It remains to be seen whether the goal of winning another one offers nearly as powerful of a driving force.
Jill Barta and Laura Stockton have some big shoes to fill: their own. Last year they helped lead Gonzaga to a West Coast Conference title and a return to the NCAA Tournament, but coach Lisa Fortier has increased expectations since then.
Has any basketball team defied the odds more than last year’s Washington State women’s squad?
Delaney Hodgins appreciates the honor – Big Sky Conference coaches voted her the preseason MVP – but not the implications of her Eagles being picked for a seventh-place finish.
After reaching the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational last year, the Vandals had to wait almost six months to get back on the court.
The Whitworth men’s basketball team has been well-known to power through tough conference play before falling abruptly in postseason.
The CC Spokane men’s head basketball coach Jeremy Groth said he might only have four sophomores on his 16-man crew this year, but they were all significant contributors last season.
The Whitworth women’s basketball team couldn’t seem to escape the chaos that enveloped their roster last season.
After capping last year with a Northwest Athletic Conference championship, the first for CC Spokane since 1984, Bruce Johnson thought he would at least see a few of his strong freshmen back this season to fight for another title.