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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can Anyone Step UP???

1999 seemed to be a decent year, as best as I can remember.

If I am not mistaken Bill Clinton was winding down his presidency, we had no clue as to what was to hit the greatest country in the world in 2001 and there was not one person in the country who new what a "hanging chad" is/was.

1999, also started what is the greatest run in the history of NCAA regular season college basketball, might not ever be duplicated and even bigger it might not end for awhile.

Since 1999, the Gonzaga Bulldogs in men's basketball the have won the West Coast Conference regular season conference title, they have appeared in the big dance every year since then and all but two of those years, won the conference post season tournament, that being done with the post season conference tournament only once in that time being held on their home court.

When you sit back and look at it, you just have to go WOW.  In fact the Bulldogs have been so dominant, unlike other leagues, there is no rivalry games for Gonzaga. You can say all you want about St Mary's being a rival, they are not and will not be until they can win the regular season conference title or consistently beat the Zags in the league tournament.

And what about the future? We will know much about Gonzaga for this year during the pre-season. Just a small example of their schedule in November and December, on November 30th Notre Dame pays its first visit ever to Spokane, the same for Michigan State on the 10th of December, then the really big test in pre-season comes in Seattle, when the Zags will play Arizona in their annual "battle of Seattle". It actually should be called the battle against the future NCAA champ, as the Wildcats will either win the title in 2012 or at the very least 2013.

It has been said that as coach of the Bulldogs, Mark Few lost much when his top assistant Leon Rice left to take the head position at Boise State, this year we might know even more how much that loss hurts in the second year of Rice being gone. I doubt if it affects the Bulldogs much, they still have a very good coaching staff.

So who is going to step up and challenge the Bulldogs in the WCC? Maybe the answer is in the question, UP. We will know early as University of Portland visits Gonzaga in the league opener on December 28th. (Going on record right now, that game will be won by Portland).

St. Mary's has had their chance as documented. Randy Bennett, who appears now that he might be a lifer St. Mary's as head coach, has yet to show me his program is in the same "league" as Gonzaga, until he does, I will not waste your time writing about it. Could it possibly be Santa Clara or San Francisco? Both of those teams have outstanding young coaches in Kerry Keating and Rex Walters, but still are not at the level of Gonzaga when it comes to depth and talent. I am also excited to see what Marty Wilson can do with Pepperdine.

Reality does tell us that the only hope to unseat Gonzaga for the near future more than likely rests with Brigham Young University. With the return of Brandon Davis from suspension, the Cougars got much better and do have a legitimate chance to finally unseat the Zags for the regular season title, we all know BYU under Dave Rose will be good every year. Once again for the schedule watchers, the first ever meeting in WCC league play will take place on February 2nd in Provo, with the rematch coming late in February in Spokane.

Full disclosure, I really do hope someone can topple the kings of West Coast Conference basketball. Gonzaga has some of the most arrogant fans around, Mark Few is an overrated coach (he has done literally nothing in the NCAA tournament, that is why I say overrated and can anyone spell BUTLER),  so please do not tell me just getting there means something. Getting back to the fans, sometimes you do have the right to be arrogant when it comes to WCC play, but get back to me when once again you do something in the NCAA tournament.

The WCC is a league with average players and outstanding head coaches. It is also a league that has become somewhat boring because of the regular season domination of Gonzaga. Here is one guy that hopes it changes, but I am not holding my breath. Hats off to Gonzaga for great regular season play, hats crushed for shameful NCAA play.

Sometimes things never do change, such is the case in the WCC, but as the greatest pro wrestler of all time Lonnie Mayne use to say, "just perhaps there is excitement in the air".

As they say at your local neighborhood court, the rest of the WCC, "just bring it" for a change, for actually a literal change.

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