Sunday, March 23, 2008

So Gonzaga is one and done in Carolina. Oh my.

There is not much I can say that hasn't been said and said by keener wits than me, cleaner analysts than me, more astute observers than me. But I will say this: Few should sharpen up his resume. It'd be my preference that several of the people he recruited do the same. Because they just don't get it any more. They just don't get it.

Matt Bouldin made a startling remark last weekend, in hyping the match up with Davidson this week. He was referring to somebody or something Davidson-related as reminding him of Gonzaga, back in the day. Back in the day? BACK.IN.THE.DAY?

What the hell is he talking about, back in the day? This is the day! This is the day and we made it! It is all ours, because it was us who painstakingly put pieces together whose sum is greater than its parts. Where is the world is Matt Bouldin's head and more importantly, his heart? As I watched Gonzaga fumble around against a tightly bound and solidly unified Davidson team on Thursday, it was quite clear where Matt's, Mark's, and the rest of the team's heads and hearts are: up their tailfeathers.

These days the entire Gonzaga basketball organization is so taken with themselves, so intent on monitoring their own headlines, believing their own spin, that they have forgotten, this IS the day. And it's our day, born of ambition, hard work, and unwavering commitment. But pride, team, community and school are not what GU is playing for now. They are playing for themselves.

They butt each other for position and prominence, for stats and stardom, they are playing to lay the groundwork for that shoe contract and that glittering NBA career that surely lies in their future. They aren't playing for their fans. They don't play for pride. They don't play to honor the legacy that built the Mac or the common sentiments and beliefs that make us a community along the north banks of the river, just past the I-90 off ramp. They are playing for themselves. And when their "efforts" bear no fruit, they are bewildered. Flat gobsmacked. Some fall to the floor and sob. It is just not supposed to turn out like this!

Instead, every one of those players and coaches needs to fall to their knees and pray to remember where they came from, and pray to be able to believe in each other and in us, and to remember where we all, all of us, came from. Our basketball boys of GU need to acknowledge that they wander the wilderness aimlessly and are likely to continue to do so unless they turn away from the golden idols that success sometimes brings.

I think a page from Billy Donovan's playbook is in order; for the non-basketball among you, Billy Donovan is the coach of the Florida Gators. The Florida Gators were the National Champions last year and this year, didn't even make it to play offs, getting knocked out in their conference tournament. So Donovan ceased allowing these "players" to train and practice in the state of the art gymnasium/workout/entertainment facility that that been built for them on the Florida campus. Instead, he now holds practice across campus in the old gym, where they are forbidden to wear anything logoed or lettered with Florida Gators. They go there to work. Work at playing basketball, work at earning the honor to represent Florida and the Florida Gators community. He believes, properly, that it's a privilege, not a right and it's earned, not handed out on a silver commitment letter.

So Mark Few has everything to gain and a whole lot more to lose by continuing to forget where it all started and who it all came from. These days, looks like much of the GU legacy has picked up and moved on to San Diego.

The 'Kan EWA


Inland Empire Girl said...

I remember when my grandmother lived up on Bridgeport and after a visit we drove by GU with an awe that swirled around Bing Crosby, the Catholic church and GU basketball. That was before anyone outside of the inland empire had even heard of the GU Bulldogs. I hope the Zags have a chance for reflection now. There are lessons to be learned in that corner of the city.

Kim_Norm said...

My first time here and I just posted under the picture of the sticks, Fantastic picture, one after my own heart. I'm glad I accidently found your blog, now I will visit much more often. The Stickman