Expert opinion: Dan Dickau on Gonzaga-Wichita St.
What a season for the Zags this year. I will be one of the first to admit that it is not how I anticipated it to end, but we must still be excited for all that they accomplished. We regained the WCC title, won the WCC tournament, set a school record for wins, reached No. 1 in the rankings and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Great accomplishments and only two were probably goals to start the season.
This team was a joy to watch because of the skill, determination, sacrifice and surprise they brought throughout the year. This is one of the most skilled teams in recent memory at nearly every position. They were determined to regain the conference title and they did that by going undefeated. There were many players who sacrificed for the good of the team and they should be commended. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. realized early that the strength and uniqueness of this team was its inside presence. Elias Harris was acknowledged in many preseason reports as the player of the year and rightfully so after his first three seasons. His willingness to defer to Kelly Olynyk when he emerged was a huge reason for this team’s success. The surprise was the emergence of Olynyk. So maybe people wonder how someone can improve so much in a year. Well I can attest to the fact that it is easy when you have a coaching staff that helps you improve daily, believes in you and gives you the confidence to play to your potential.
At the end of the day many people will judge this team in different ways. I view them as being an example of a complete team always working to improve and support each other. This focus on working towards a common goal of excellence is, I believe, one reason Spokane gets behind the Zags every year.
The road didn’t lead them to a Final Four as so many of us thought it might, but it definitely was one heck of a ride. I am proud to be a ZAG!