There was a lot of excitement about college basketball yesterday in the eastern half of the Evergreen State, but little to none of it revolved around the Washington State Men's Basketball team. As WSU fans continue to anticipate the official announcement of the team's next head coach, Gonzaga fans celebrated an 85-77 win in the
first second round of the NCAA tournament over Oklahoma State.
I have always found Gonzaga to be a really interesting subject when talking to Coug fans. Everybody has an opinion and everybody relates to Gonzaga in a different way. I would say that the general sentiment among WSU fans is favorable towards the Bulldogs. I have seen people with Gonzaga gear walking around campus free of the type of heckling that might happen if they had another type of canine on their shirt.
In a completely unscientific study conducted at a Pullman sports bar during the Zag's second round game against Southern in 2013, I'd say that roughly 20% of the fans there were actual Gonzaga fans. Among the rest of us Coug fans, about 75% were for Gonzaga and 25% against. But, those in the "against" crowd were pretty passionate as Southern challenged the No. 1 seeded Zag's well into the second half.
Growing up in Big Ten country far away from the Pacific Coast, my awareness of Gonzaga over the past two decades has evolved roughly along the timeline that follows:
"You know, John Stockton is the greatest point guard to ever play the game and he went to some school I have never even heard of. Can't remember the school's name though."
/no internet to look it up and just traded John Stockton basketball card for Reggie Miller/
"Oh my! Can you believe Gonzaga's run in the NCAA tournament? That's amazing! Where in California are they from anyway?"
/looks it up on internet/
"Hmm. Spokane, Washington."
"Gonzaga's Cinderella appeal is wearing off a little, but it would still be cool to see a small team go deep in the tournament. I wish it were Butler. I kind of like that dude's hair/mustache combo though. Not the norm, but it works for him I wonder how he will do in the NBA."
/arrives at WSU/
"This place is amazing! A relatively remote region with two ranked college basketball teams! How cool is this? This place is packed!"
"Ugh. Going to lose to Gonzaga again. I can't stand them. Can't we just be the best team in our own region? And will somebody get a hand in that kid's face before he buries another three-pointer? Good grief!"
So, clearly, there is little that has driven me from passive interest to contempt other than pure jealousy and our inability to keep up with the Jones.
Yep, I'm a hater, and life is way too short for that.
But, as my buddy, a Palouse native and WSU alum, told me yesterday, "I root for them, but don't care for them all that much."
Translation: "I really only care about the Cougs, but when the Cougs aren't playing, I guess I gotta root for somebody. So why not a local team?"
Fair enough. I'll take it. Go Zags! I guess.
But better yet, let's get a coach in here that will reproduce the excitement of several years ago. It was awfully fun to see students wrapped around Beasley three times around on game day holding their friends' place in line while they were attending classes (please allow me to be naive) when the Zags came to Pullman.
Competition and rivalry in college sports are what make it so much fun. Two good teams in the area would make for a win-win situation and draw more national attention to the region. Gonzaga is definitely doing their part to make this happen. So let's do ours.
The baseball team shut out the defending champion UCLA Bruins Friday night in Los Angeles by a score of 2-0. Jason Monda turned in a stellar performance on the mound for the Cougars going 7.2 innings and striking out five Bruin batters. The win is the fifth straight for the Cougs, who clawed their way back from a slow start. Props to Donnie and the boys for the impressive turnaround in just the last eight days.
As WSU's search for a new basketball coach continues, local news outlets speculate on what this could mean for the head coach of their area school.
Washington State fires men's basketball coach; Broncos' Leon Rice on Cougars' radar | Boise State Basketball | Idahostatesman.com
The Cougars fired Ken Bone on Tuesday, and Boise State coach Leon Rice, a Washington State graduate, is a likely candidate.
Anderson in Top 15 Through One - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Junior Michael Anderson led the Cougars in the first round of the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, carding a 70 (-1).
Cougars Come Up Short at No. 45 Arizona - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The No. 45 Arizona Wildcats captured three singles matches to clinch a 4-1 victory over the No. 50 Washington State Cougars Friday afternoon at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.
WSU Rowing Opens Spring Season in Spokane - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Looking to continue its success from the fall, Washington State University women's rowing kicks off the spring season against Gonzaga March 22 at Silver Lake, Wash.