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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Ralph Walter: Deadline pressure takes Gonzaga basketball mania to new heights

One injury can change everything.

Except when it comes to newspaper deadlines.

So as news broke Tuesday afternoon that talented Gonzaga big man Killian Tillie would miss a significant chunk of the season following surgery for an ankle fracture, a sense of Zagony set in since our annual college basketball section – which you’ll find tucked into Thursday’s print edition of The Spokesman-Review – was already out the door for an early press run.

Thanks to dumb luck, though, a press delay miraculously allowed GU beat writer Jim Meehan to rewrite the Gonzaga season preview to reflect the injury. And now, as you’re sitting down enjoying your bowl of Sugar Smacks and (we hope) browsing the section, you’ll have some answers as to how GU will have to adjust without the sharp-shooting Tillie in the lineup.

The Zags? They should be fine. Those valuable minutes that big men Brandon Clarke and Filip Petrusev will gain in GU’s rugged nonconference schedule – one that features North Carolina, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Washington and three potential heavyweights in Maui – should pay off when Tillie returns in late December. After all, March is really all that matters.

And our basketball section? On paper, it’s pretty impressive, too.

Packed with team previews, schedules and insight into all of our local college men’s and women’s teams, not to mention West Coast and Pac-12 conference previews, it also features a wonderful story by Meehan on the career of Josh Perkins and how the underappreciated GU point guard seems ready for a breakout senior season.

A story of Laura Stockton on the Gonzaga women’s team mirrors Perkins’ a bit, as writer Jim Allen reveals how the senior point guard understands the need to show leadership if the Zags are to continue their WCC dominance.

Our Hall of Fame columnist, the “retired” John Blanchette, delivers two really entertaining stories.

The first reveals some myths and truths surrounding Gonzaga’s 1999 NCAA victory over Minnesota that launched Zagmania. If you’ve followed Gonzaga from the start, it’s a must-read.

His second story, and my favorite, is an attempt to rank GU’s growing legion of star players – by height – from the 5-foot-8 Courtney Vandersloot to the 7-5 Will Foster to 18 others in between. (Side note: It’s safe to assume I wasn’t the greatest 6-3 basketball player in East Valley High School history. And not because I was only 6-2.)

As part of the rankings, you won’t want to miss the stunning souvenir foldout poster drawn by Spokesman-Review artist Molly Quinn. (You’ll find it on the reverse side of the Northern Quest advertisement that’s inserted inside the basketball section.)

If it seems like we’re celebrating Gonzaga’s rich basketball history, we are. That’s what happens when a team earns 20 straight berths to the NCAA Tournament – with Mark Few on the verge of making his 20th consecutive trip as head coach.

The section also coincides with Monday night’s “Gonzaga Legends” event at the Fox Theater, hosted by The Spokesman-Review. Four former Zags – Matt Santangelo, Casey Calvary, Dan Dickau and Adam Morrison – join KHQ/SWX sports director Sam Adams, Meehan and Blanchette to provide insight into how Gonzaga evolved into this NCAA powerhouse.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are just $6 and available at Oh sure, there’s no deadline to buy tickets and you might still be able to get them at the door.

But really, is it worth the Zagony to wait?

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