Talk about clever non-conference scheduling, so put down that egg nog and take a brief break from wrapping your holiday presents
Since 1999, Gonzaga has the mid-major pedigree most other similar schools like Valparaiso, Bucknell, Belmont, and Davidson have all tried to emulate.
Even with longtime head coach Mark Few turning down many lucrative offers to either coach in more established programs or even turning down the NBA, all fans and supporters of Gonzaga share that common bond, that knack of winning curing all ills.
Similar to what the Atlanta Braves did for so many years in baseball, their season would not be deemed a success until they won the World Series. Many times during the 1990’s, they climbed the summit but were turned back except in 1995.
Albeit the one home loss to BYU stung in the fact that they were not awarded the Number 1 seed in the West Region but instead were sent packing with Duke as the Number 2 seed in the South.
With the schedule released on September 3, NBCSports.com briefly touched on some of the highlights and why they usually join the likes of Villanova, Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Kansas, and Kentucky as those schools looking to earn the proper stature needed to convince the Division I Basketball Committee to earn again another Top 4 seed come next March.
Even though the ‘Zags will miss tremendously guards Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley, they have plenty of reinforcements in terms of both experience and pure talent in the front court with former Duke player Kyle Wiltjer, along with Przemek Karnowski and Damontas Sabonis (the son of Basketball Hall of Famer and 1992 Olympian Ardonyis) returning to The Kennel.
Come the week of Veteran’s Day, the Bulldogs will have their lid lifter overseas in Okinawa taking on Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Classic on November 13. During Thanksgiving break, they will take part in a holiday tournament in the Bahamas, with Washington being their first opponent at the Battle 4 Atlantis with UNC Charlotte, UConn, Michigan, Syracuse, Texas and Texas A&M completing the field (please read my thoughts on that and other preseason holiday tournaments in a prior blog below).
December will find The Kennel rocking against battled tested Pac 12 foes in Arizona (December 5) and UCLA (December 12), and they’ll play new coach Rick Barnes and Tennessee in the annual “Battle in Seattle” on December 19. The Bulldogs open WCC play four days before Christmas as Pepperdine looks to crash the party with their top three scorers returning for another chance at redemption. Gonzaga’s final non-conference game won’t be played until February 13, when they will visit SMU in one of two true road games they’ll play outside of West Coast Conference play.
Couple that with the always right there BYU team and you never know what wrinkles St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, or San Diego may have on their minds.
Something else to think about as we are less than seven weeks before my Third Annual 2015-2016 Season Preview.
Thanks so much for reading.