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A time to revisit

I’ve always maintained that timing is everything. I wrote last week’s column and sent it off a few hours before WSU basketball coach Kyle Smith announced that he would be the next Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball coach. When I found out I thought that it wasn’t a step up as Stanford has had trouble winning and now they are going to the ACC to play the likes of North Carolina, Duke and this year’s tournament upstart North Carolina State. A few hours later when I was watching the nightly news I found out that Smith’s son has special needs and Stanford has been a leader in his son’s needs. So when Kyle Smith said it was his dream job I’m sure he meant how important it was for his son. We often think that money is the driving force but in this case I think it was family first and that’s refreshing.

Thanks to my cousin Tony I was able to attend the Gonzaga women’s games on Saturday and Monday. This was the first time that I saw these gals play and they were fun to watch. On Saturday they were a bit rusty and many of the three point shots that were money during the season were not connecting that afternoon. After halftime the ladies started hitting their shots and IC Irvine was not. It was almost as if the basket on one end worked and the one on the other end was out of order. The Zag gals dominated the Anteaters, yes that is UCI’s mascot.

On Monday the ladies played the Utah Utes in a very physical game. Another slow start by the Bulldogs let everyone know that this game would be difficult. Again the second half was kind to GU and it seemed that only one of the Utah ladies was able to score. Gonzaga defeated the Utes and would move on to play Texas in Portland. Unfortunately the UT women’s defense would take over and the Zag ladies’ season would come to an end.

One of the many highlights in Monday night’s game was when the GU men’s team walked in and sat down about 25 feet from us. It was a great show of support for the women and it was really cool to see these big dudes stand up in the 4th quarter of the game and give them a standing ovation. At halftime there were a fair amount of people asking for Graham Ike’s autograph or pictures with him and Dusty Stromer. These two guys were happy to oblige. When the men left McCarthy with a couple of minutes to go in the game they were greeted with applause and good luck wishes. It was a pretty cool moment and a good reason why Gonzaga and Spokane has been a great place for these guys to play.

So the GU men and women were defeated in the NCAA tournament on Friday night. Three point shooting was a problem for both teams but one game doesn’t define a season or a team’s personality. The GU women had an outstanding season. They finished 32-4 and in the games I watched they were a great group to root for. They were definitely a team that liked to run and shoot the three. If they had one trait that might have hurt them is that they weren’t a real physical team which at times hurt them against Irvine and Utah. Texas’s size hurt GU and a physical and defensive minded team like them can make playing the game tough. But getting the opportunity to host first and second round games is huge and the MAC was rocking both nights.

The ladies will be losing some solid talent but will still have high hopes for next year. The Truong twins, Kayleigh and Kaylynne, Brynna Maxwell and Eliza Hollingsworth will certainly be missed and difficult to replace. The team will be built around standout Yvonne Ejim all everything for the Zags. She has already said that she will be coming back for another season and will be vital to any success that is achieved next season. The PA announcer was RHS Bronco alum Ray Bernard. It was great to hear his voice again.

The men will be bringing back everyone except senior Anton Watson. Watson is one of those guys that will do anything to win and whatever is needed he knows what to do to get it. He scored over 30 points twice this season, led the team in steals and has a nose for the ball and will track down rebounds like no other player on the court. He is also an exceptional passer and can get as many assists as a point guard. He is a quiet leader who will be missed more than anyone can imagine. Good luck in your future Anton you have left a legacy at GU. You are Mr. Zag!

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].

 

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