The answer is 90.
The question is how many text messages would Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves get after his Bulldogs upended Texas A&M Monday night to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history?
“Between 8:52 and 11 I got 90 texts,” Graves said. “I answered every one. I got done at a quarter to 2. I got more today.”
The Bulldogs returned from Seattle early Tuesday morning, their only obligations being class and accepting congratulations for their thrilling 72-71 win over the Aggies.
Without class to worry about and associate athletic director Shannon Strahl handling arrangements for Gonzaga’s next adventure, Graves slipped home and into his office chair, rocking, “soaking it all in” and channel surfing.
“I’m watching (the replay of) Texas A&M play Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament championship game,” he reported. “How ironic is that?”
The Aggies won, their third-straight win over a top 15 opponent, including previously unbeaten and third-ranked Nebraska, which led to a No. 2 seed for the NCAA Tournament and extreme disappointment when Gonzaga beat them for the Bulldogs’ school-record 29th win, including 20 straight since they lost in December – to Texas A&M.
Other than answering calls and texts and struggling to stay awake on just one hour of sleep, Graves was free until 4, when the coaching staff planned to watch the second-round game that would determine GU’s Sweet 16 opponent.
Third-seeded Xavier (29-3) faces seventh-seeded Gonzaga (29-4) Saturday afternoon in Sacramento.
“We have film on those two teams,” Graves said. “That’s a quick turn-around, really quick for them and they have to travel a couple of time zones. You don’t realize it’s that quick.”
He could have gotten that alert from GU men’s coach Mark Few, who happened to drive by at the airport when Graves and three players, the first of three different GU travel parties, reached the curb to call a cab. Graves hailed Few instead.
“He was excited for us,” Graves said. “He said, ‘It’s amazing. You’re going to love it.’”
Reflecting on the biggest win in program history, one thing stood out.
“I thought of the way our kids celebrated,” he said. “They weren’t giddy. They were excited beyond belief, but not giddy or silly. I think they firmly believed they were going to be in that position, I really do.”