The “Sweet 16” teams of the 2012 NCAA tournament are set. Millions of fans watched as their favorite team(s) were eliminated over the first two rounds – including two second-seeded teams! I’ve been a Gonzaga fan for the past 17 years and have watched their annual run in the tournament for 14 of those 17 years.There have been some pretty heady moments for this ‘mid-major’ school along the way – Sweet 16 & Elite 8 appearances – and some major disappointments – like losing in the first round.
It would be easy to observe Gonzaga and their longtime coach Mark Few and level some criticisms. For example, it seems that the Zags never dominate. They win lots of games – enough to make 14 consecutive appearances in the NCAA – but often those games are much closer than they should be. Occasionally they have lost those close games – even to teams they should have easily beaten. They sometimes allow lesser talented teams to keep the score within 2-3 possessions and rarely put them away early. Could the Zags and their coach be too nice? This is more than a single-season phenomenon. It’s something that is evident year after year.
A recent in-depth article in the Tacoma NewsTribune reported on the behind-the-scenes ‘niceness’ factor of the Zags and Coach Few. [Read article here] When you read the article you get the very real sense that the men’s basketball program at GU is about much more than winning basketball games (Coach Few does have the 2nd highest wining percentage of all active coaches!). It’s about developing men who are committed to service and generosity. It’s about leadership in the local community and using their talents to help others. So if it’s true in this case that good guys finish last, I’m okay with that!