Now the real season starts.
All the Gonzaga basketball you've watched, read about and fretted over between their first win in early November and their most recent victory, four months later? All a mere preamble to the Big Dance — aka "March Madness," aka the NCAA Tournament — when 68 teams go all Thunderdome, knocking each other off until just one remains standing at the end as national champion.
Gonzaga has never won it all, but then again, there's never been a Gonzaga squad quite like this year's team of Bulldogs. West Coast Conference championships are nothing new in these parts, of course. Neither is head coach Mark Few's way of guiding squads of likable young men to the heights of the regular-season polls. These Zags are arguably more athletic and defensive-minded than any of their predecessors, which just might help them make their first Final Four and maybe — just maybe — bring a title trophy to Spokane, home base of the crazed and ever-growing Bulldog Nation.
In this week's issue, we introduce some of the players who make this year's Zags squad different. We explore why an early tournament loss is unlikely, talk to a Northwest author who has literally written the book on Gonzaga men's hoops — twice — and delve into why the Gonzaga women's team deserves some of your attention this week, too, as they start their own march into the Madness.