Tom Hudson can’t help but talk a big game: that’s what happens when you’re the voice of Gonzaga athletics. For the past 16 years, Hudson has been courtside for a Gonzaga men’s basketball run that has included 20 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, nine trips to the Sweet 16 and 17 straight seasons with 25-plus victories.
Larry Weir, host of The Spokesman-Review’s Press Box Podcast, talked with Hudson on Wednesday about everything from last year’s 32-5 team, to the already lofty expectations for next season’s team, to the addition of the new Volkar Center on GU’s campus. Following are excerpts. Find the entire interview here.
On exceeding expectations:
Hudson on Zags exceeding expectations
“You saw this team come together. I thought honestly it was one of Coach Few’s better coaching jobs. To get to 32 wins with everything that was lost. And that wasn’t disrespect to the guys coming back, but even Rui Hachimura, for as much as everyone wanted to talk about Rui, and ‘Rui is so great.’ Hey, he was a backup guy who was dunking on walk-ons as a freshman and who was still trying to learn English. To see his development this year was phenomenal. So it did surprise me a little bit that they were able to do what they did.”
On the potential for too much depth for 2018-19:
Hudson on Gonzaga’s depth for 2018-19
“Guys are going to be disappointed they’re not playing, but they’re not going to pout. And they’re not going to turn on the coaching staff and they’re not going to turn on the team because they’ve seen the success over the years and they’ve seen guys grow. Look at Kelly Olynyk. (He) sits out the redshirt year and comes back and has a huge year and then he gets drafted in the first round. You can point to that with guys like Rui and (Killian) Tille now and say, ‘Look, we had a plan. We helped him succeed and do this.’ ”
On talent, and early departures:
Hudson on Tillie and Hachimura
“I’ve had the good fortune over the years to see a number of our guys that have been drafted, and also guys from Kevin Durant, to Derrick Rose, Draymond Green, and with us, Adam Morrison and Rony Turiaf, and you go through the list, Kelly Olynyk and Zach Collins and Damontis Sabonis … you know, there were times, more often than not, when you were watching them play, like, that guy is bar none the best player on the floor. And that was more often that not. And I think for Killian (Tille) and Rui, there were times where, without a doubt, they were the best player on the floor, but they need to consistently be that, which I think coming back one more year really puts them in a great position to do that.”
On the new Volkar Center and its potential:
Hudson on Volkar Center
“(It’s) a beautiful building that gives the Zags another boost in recruiting. Coach Few has always said, ‘Hey, we don’t need everything that the big guys have. Look, just give us enough to compete and we’ll go in there and we’ll stick our noses in there and we’ll give it a go.’ I think that that building is going to be interesting from a recruiting perspective with the practice court, a weight room that’s for the basketball players, the academic facilities are phenomenal up there … That’s going to be a game-changer for GU as well in that you won’t have schools recruiting negatively against you. ‘Well, hey, they don’t have a practice facility.’ Well, you know what, we actually do have a practice facility, so you can cross that one off the list.”
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