SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The proverbial shoe is now on the other foot. Gonzaga practically coined the phrase "Cinderella Team" in NCAA Tournaments past, but there's a new mid-major conference team looking to take that mantle. Fittingly enough, Wichita State will look to continue its underdog run against the Bulldogs, now the top dog in the West Bracket.
Mark Few and the Zags despise the term "mid-major," and rightfully so. They are now a national program. Their team is bigger than their conference. But that's not the case in Wichita, where the Shockers are embracing that underdog role. They want to be where the Zags are. To be Gonzaga, they will have to beat Gonzaga.
"Everyone who is non-BCS in the last 15 to 20 years since Coach (Dan) Monson and that group that first started this run at Gonzaga has tried to emulate their success," Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall told me during Friday's press conference. "Everyone wants to do that, and now Butler, George Mason, and VCU are trying to get there."
It's incredible how much other coaches and teams respect Gonzaga's success. It's also amazing how much coaches like Marshall know about the history about the Bulldogs. He is well aware how difficult it is to get where Gonzaga is.
"It's a five-step process and we're on step one," Marshall told me. "Beating Gonzaga tomorrow would possibly elevate us to step three. Maybe we could skip a step in trying to become Gonzaga, but it takes years of excellence to become Gonzaga and that's what we're trying to put forth."
Honest, but true.
Here's what we're working on tonight:
John Stockton. Ever heard of him? People in Salt Lake City certainly remember him. I spoke with one of his former Jazz teammates, Thurl Bailey, along with a long-time sportscaster in Utah, Rod Zundle. We talked about watching Stockton's son David growing up and hanging out in the Utah Jazz lockerroom as a kid, and now coming back to play here for Gonzaga. It's good stuff. That will air at 10:30 pm on SWX Tonight, and at 11:00 pm on KHQ.
Canadian Connection. Canadians love talking about how much better their beer is, don't they? I don't buy it. But I'll grant them this: Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos are pretty darned good basketball players. A TV crew from Canada is following our Canadian Dynamic Duo all the way through the NCAA Tournament. We just interviewed their crew about following Canadians in the Big Dance every year. Nice guys. Look for that story on Saturday morning on KHQ.
Interviews, interviews, interviews. It's only week one of the Tournament and I already feel like I've interviewed Mike Hart eight times. Regardless, the topics are changing and the stakes are being raised. We'll have tons of Gonzaga goodness at 5, 6, and 11 on KHQ and SWX Tonight.
One last thing. Rem Bakamus. What a cool kid. He doesn't get to play, but he's a heck of a guy. We gave him a mic and let him run wild with interviews in the Zag locker room. Where will you see those shenanigans? Not sure... depends on which of our producers is cool enough to swipe it for their show. Stay tuned!
As always, follow me on Twitter @SWXSamAdams. My follower count is pitifully low. So much so I am begging you right now. I promise good pics from Salt Lake. Then LA. Then Atlanta.
Monday, May 13 2013 1:15 AM EDT2013-05-13 05:15:33 GMT
Six Gonzaga University baseball players spent the morning receiving their diplomasonly to battle in the series finale against Appalachian State University.More >>
Six Gonzaga University baseball players spent the morning at the Spokane Arena receiving their diplomas at the university's graduation ceremony only to battle in the series finale against Appalachian State University in the afternoon.More >>