I will have some of my own thoughts on last night's game before too long, but I just have to get this off my chest.
Last year, I went on a diatribe about just what it is that irritates me to no end about Gonzaga basketball fans. In short, it's pretty unbelievable how a program that's only been relevant for just over a decade -- you have no idea how many "true blue since 1996" Gonzaga fans there are -- could have so many people who think they are God's gift to the game of college basketball. It's an arrogance that goes beyond mere pride and is more or less completely unjustified given what they've actually tangibly accomplished on a national scale.
However, I refrained from such rhetoric this year. We enjoy a good relationship with the fellas over at The Slipper Still Fits, and I know most Coug fans don't feel the same way I do -- they generally root for the Zags when they don't play the Cougs. Besides, I was at the Portland regional last March, and the Zag fans were generally tolerable -- no less so than any other normal fan base with a handful of wackos.
Then, there was last night.
In a move that screamed, "Look at us! We're clever like those wacky Cameron Crazies!", I heard this coming over my television:
"CAS-TO CAN'T READ!" (clap, clap, clap clap clap)
And suddenly, everything I ever thought about Gonzaga fans came flooding back.
DeAngelo Casto is a kid who has made something of himself coming out of some amazingly tough circumstances. True, he had a difficult time qualifying out of high school, but he did. And, by all accounts, he's comported himself well in the classroom at WSU up until this point. He's also a well-spoken individual who has done nothing but work his tail off to become better since coming to Pullman. He's been a class act all the way.
Same can't be said for those Gonzaga fans. Of all the people to pick on, the elitist white private school students go ahead and choose the African-American kid whose parents were both dead by the time he was eight? And target his academic difficulties, which pretty much anyone in his circumstances would have had?
In that post last year, I compared Zag fans to Oregon fans. The comparison has never been so apt. What a completely classless thing to chant at that guy. It was far, far below the belt.
Maybe they're still mad that, after an amazing career at Ferris, he spurned Gonzaga to come to WSU because he wanted to play Pac-10 basketball. (Honestly shocking to most Gonzaga fans.) Maybe it's because he now calls Pullman his home -- not just where he goes to school, but home -- something many of us do when we go to school there. Maybe it's because their private school selves are just that out of touch with reality that they don't understand why that would be hurtful.
Whatever it is, it was inexcusable. And while I realize it was only a small segment of the population in that gym last night, all Gonzaga fans were sullied. It was an embarrassment to the school.
And before some Gonzaga fans come in here and get all self-righteous and claim it's not that big of a deal and nothing worse than anything WSU fans have ever done, just remember: The first strategy when you know you're wrong is to finger point and deflect attention somewhere else. This is about you, and you alone.
But if I were a betting man? I'd wager the Cougs will show you how a classy student section behaves next year.
P.S.: D, if you are reading this, know one thing -- we are all proud of the work you have done to get where you are at. Don't let that stuff get to you. You're one of us, and we love you. Once a Coug, always a Coug.
And let's beat the crap out of their team next year.