Saturday’s matinee was as much another blowout win as it was a display of just how good the Gonzaga men’s basketball program has been over the years.
The Zags (28-0, 16-0 WCC) won their first regular season West Coast Conference championship during the 1994 season. Their 82-61 victory over the Pacific Tigers (10-19, 4-12) clinched at least a share of the program’s 20th regular season title.
“It’s one of those things that I take a lot of pride in,” Few said.
Of those 20 titles, 16 have come during Mark Few’s 18 years as head coach. And this year’s marks five straight titles for the Zags. Few isn’t the only thing that ties these five titles together, though. There’s been another constant on the team during that span: redshirt senior center Przemek Karnowski.
“I’m just happy that for five years that I’ve been here we’ve won it every season,” Karnowski said. “It feels good.”
To win five regular season titles in as many years requires, obviously, winning a lot of games. And that’s exactly what Karnowski has done. The big man from Poland picked up career victory number 128 against Pacific. He’s now five games shy of the NCAA career record for victories, currently held by former Duke Blue Devil Shane Battier.
Karnowski’s long and storied career began in the 2013 season. As a freshman, on the first Gonzaga team to be ranked No. 1, he came off the bench behind Kelly Olynyk and Sam Dower.
Olynyk, now in his fourth season with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, and Dower were in attendance at the Kennel to catch this edition of the No. 1 ranked Zags. Having a couple of former Bulldogs in the house was yet another highlight in an exciting season here in Spokane.
“We’re enjoying the heck out of every day on this ride,” Few said. “Obviously we want to take it as far as possible. But we’re also going to enjoy every day and every moment and every win.”
The Zags, and their fans, have two more chances to enjoy wins before heading to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament. Next Thursday they head to San Diego to take on the Toreros before returning home for the season finale against BYU Saturday.