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Gonzaga Basketball

No. 1 reason to fret … or is it celebrate?

Sat., March 9, 2013

LAS VEGAS – Bumped into those best of friends and Zags fans, Hysteria and Horse Sense, sitting at side-by-side slots at the Orleans Casino. Guess what they were talking about?

Horse Sense: “It’s been five days now. Will you give it a rest?”

Hysteria: “I can’t help it! Gonzaga’s No. 1! Think of it! No. 1! This is easily the greatest thing that’s happened to Jesuit self-esteem since St. Al renounced his inheritance!”

Horse Sense: “Zag, please.”

Hysteria: “I am jacked!”

Horse Sense: “For the West Coast Conference tournament?”

Hysteria: “To start pricing flights to Atlanta!”

Horse Sense: “Just out of curiosity, do you know how many teams over the last decade that were ranked No. 1 in either of the final regular-season polls actually won the NCAA tournament?”

Hysteria: “Oh, geez, it’s Sgt. Curmudge, reporting for duty again!”

Horse Sense: “One. Kentucky, last year.”

Hysteria: “I’ll take those odds!”

Horse Sense: “You’re better off hitting on 20.”

Hysteria: “Why won’t you let me enjoy this?”

Horse Sense: “Kansas – two-and-out in 2010. Stanford – two-and-out in 2004.”

Hysteria: “OK, but…”

Horse Sense: “Ohio State and Duke – sayonara at the Sweet 16 in 2011 and 2006.”

Hysteria: “Gad, maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s too much. If those pedigreed programs can’t handle the weight, what chance does little old Gonzaga have? No. 1 – of all the rotten luck.”

Horse Sense: “What?”

Hysteria: “I’ll be home regrouting the tub before Bill Raftery can scream, ‘Onions!’ Where’s that waitress? I need another beer.”

Horse Sense: “Now wait a second…”

Hysteria: “Or whiskey. Why did they have to vote us No. 1? Maybe we’ll get beat here and the pressure will be off.”

Horse Sense: “So now Gonzaga losing will pull you from the depths of despair?”

Hysteria: “Unless it’s to Kerry Keating.”

Horse Sense: “No chance of that now. Man, you’re impossible. Look, you think Mark Few’s a pretty smart guy, don’t you?”

Hysteria: “Yeah, sure. Except when he wouldn’t play Manny Arop more. I still don’t understand…”

Horse Sense: “Well, then why not just pick up on his ‘live in the moment’ mantra? You’re following a terrific team. They’re fun to watch. They have smarts and depth and chemistry and skill. This is a great time of year. Every game’s 50cc of adrenaline and a cardiac needle.”

Hysteria: “You’re right. I do need to live in the moment. And at this moment … they’re No. 1! And they’ve gotta give us a No. 1 seed in the bracket! Let’s get see if we can get those Zag fans at the craps table to get the chant going! We’re No. 1!”

Horse Sense: “Speaking of which, I didn’t see you or any of these people at the quarterfinal games.”

Hysteria: “Loyola Marymount? San Diego? Who can watch those teams?”

Horse Sense: “You mean the teams that knocked Nos. 3 and 4 out of the tournament Friday night? Now you’re sounding like the snipers. How can the Zags be a No. 1? Who have they beat lately? Strength of schedule in the 70s. One Top 25 RPI win all year.”

Hysteria: “They’re going to screw us, aren’t they? Man, we’ve got to get into that Catholic 7.”

Horse Sense: “That’s right. So your teams can cross three time zones every other weekend, and so the November and December schedule can start looking like what the people in Pullman are paying for. Sheesh, you’re not just booking flights to Atlanta this year, you’re booking them to Philly, D.C. and Jersey for 10 years, aren’t you?”

Hysteria: “But this conference is killing us. What if it costs us a No. 1 seed?”

Horse Sense: “Well, that would be unfortunate, but in a year like this when there’s no Kentucky like there was last season or a dominant Duke, the competitive advantage of being a No. 1 over No. 2 is probably nonexistent. It’ll be almost as ceremonial as the ranking.”

Hysteria: “All right! Back to my favorite subject! No. 1! How many schools have ever been able to say that? Twenty-five? Thirty?”

Horse Sense: “Fifty-seven.”

Hysteria: “Still…”

Horse Sense: “Yes, still a wonderful achievement. Just realize that more than a few of those have faded into the shadows. La Salle. Loyola of Chicago. Duquesne. You keep wanting to make this the high water mark of Gonzaga’s program, but it’s the sustained excellence of 15 years that’s impressive.”

Hysteria: “Yeah, you’re right. Man, it’s going to be tough keeping it going next year when those three guys are in the NBA.”

Horse Sense: “Three?”

Hysteria: “Sure. Kelly and Elias and Mike Hart. I mean, if a scout can’t see what Mike Hart means to a winning team…”

Horse Sense: “You know what, pal? You really are No. 1.”

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