OLYMPIA – The Gonzaga Men’s Basketball team received honors Tuesday with a state Senate resolution commemorating the nearly undefeated team for uniting the state during a year that many say needed it most.
“Because of the Gonzaga basketball teams, we do have things to cheer for, and I’m grateful to them for that,” Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said on the floor Tuesday.
He added the team was a “happy diversion during a difficult year.”
Billig, Sen. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, co-sponsored the resolution honoring the men’s team for this past season.
The resolution congratulates the entire team, coaches and players “on finishing second in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, going undefeated until the National Championship game while playing a fun and exciting style of basketball, and for making its many fans throughout Washington and beyond very proud.”
Holy said over the years, the team has developed a national following, bringing attention to the university, Spokane and the Pacific Northwest.
“There’s a time in sports fandom when even those who aren’t paying attention start paying attention,” Holy said.
Lt. Gov.Denny Heck gave a rare floor speech before the vote, praising the character and integrity of the organization.
“Gonzaga is America’s team,” he said.
Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, had similar comments on the teamwork and selflessness that she said the players show. They are examples that we can all live by, she said.
“What they do on the court is bigger than themselves individually,” Short said.
The resolution praises head coach Mark Few and players Corey Kispert, Drew Timme and Jalen Suggs for their work this season.
Senators praised Few for his continuous leadership. Padden called him “very loyal, very committed.”
“Thank you, coach Few, for sticking with us,” Holy said.
Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, said the team brought the entire state together, something that doesn’t always happen.
“They unified Washington for a time, and we need a lot more of that,” she said.
Despite some star players entering into the NBA draft, Padden said next year’s recruits are “phenomenal,” expressing excitement for the No. 1 class of 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren’s commitment to Gonzaga.
“(The program) never seems to be rebuilding,” Padden said. “They’re just reloading.”
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