It seems that every year college basketball fans and so-called experts ask the same questions about the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Are they really as good as their record suggests? Can a mid-major from a top-heavy conference actually hang with college basketball’s best? Will the Bulldogs crumble on the sport’s biggest stage?
For 18 straight seasons, Gonzaga has answered those questions with a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and during that time, head coach Mark Few has built a program that’s currently 26-0, ranked no.1 in the nation and respected on every college court in the country. But that flawless record has these Bulldogs dreaming big.
Guided by five players currently averaging at least 10.0 points per game, including top scorer and Wooden Award candidate Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga is no one-sided wonder and ranks eighth in the nation in points allowed [61.7 ppg], while averaging a healthy 85.1 points per game—good for 13th in the NCAA. And along with a pair of productive seven-footers in freshman Zach Collins and senior Przemek Karnowski, the Bulldogs also boast a dangerously deep rotation.
Over the weekend, Gonzaga relied on that depth to defeat West Coast Conference rival St. Mary’s 74-64 with a total team effort that saw four players finish with at least 12 points. On paper, the 20th-ranked Gaels represented the last opponent with a real shot to spoil Gonzaga’s perfect WCC season. But while the Bulldogs shot just 37.5 percent from long-range, Few’s flawless record was never in any real danger.
Following Saturday’s victory, Karnowski told reporters that the Bulldogs aren’t worried about outside opinions and critics who question the quality of their schedule.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Karnowski. “I have my teammates. I have my coaches. And that’s all that matters. We work hard in little Spokane, Washington. We come to work everyday. We try to get better every week. And that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter what other people say. We had challenges this year. We met every challenge that was put in front of us, and that’s how we need to respond.”
The Bulldogs’ latest response—last Saturday’s win, will probably be its most convincing until the madness of March begins. Once again, Gonzaga’s conference schedule has been the college basketball equivalent of batting practice, and as usual, that’s been more than enough to spark debate, and even widespread doubt, about the Bulldogs’ post-season potential.
In November, Gonzaga earned a pair of consecutive power conference wins over 15th-ranked Florida and the NCAA Tournament-bound Iowa State Cyclones at the Advocare Invitational. But the Bulldogs’ most impressive win of the current campaign came in early December when they beat the fifth-ranked Arizona Wildcats 69-62 on a neutral court at the inaugural Hoophall L.A. doubleheader.
As an 11-seed at last season’s big dance, Few led his 28-win Bulldogs to lopsided victories over sixth-seeded Seton Hall and third-seeded Utah before falling to tenth-seeded Syracuse 63-60 in Gonzaga’s second straight trip to the Sweet 16 and seventh since 1999. And during it’s 18-year reign as the monster of the mid-majors, Gonzaga has only failed to advance beyond the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on three occasions.
Including its two conference wins over St. Mary’s, Gonzaga is a perfect 5-0 against teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top-25. It won’t be the best resume that the committee sees on Selection Sunday–that honor will go to a power conference big shot. But according to the latest edition of Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology”, Gonzaga is currently one of the tourney’s four top seeds along with Villanova, Baylor, and Kansas, and despite their critics, that’s exactly where these Bulldogs belong.
Georgetown’s Josh LeBlanc, Galen Alexander, Myron Gardner Face Numerous Complaints
Georgetown Hoyas’ basketball players Josh LeBlanc and Galen Alexander received restraining orders sometime in November resulting from accusations of harassment and burglary, and freshman Myron Gardner was accused of “sexual harassment and assault,” according to one of the filings, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
ESPN obtained court records that were filed on November 5th by a Georgetown student, a restraining order against LeBlanc and Alexander, a request that was granted on November 20th after both players failed to appear
In response to an alleged burglary that I believe Joshua LeBlanc committed against me on September 16, 2019, Joshua threatened bodily harm against myself and my roommate,” the complaint read. “He continued to threaten me verbally and via text message in the following week.”
Later, on November 13th, the student’s roommate filed for a separate restraining order against Gardner, LeBlanc and Alexander, accusing Gardner of sexually harassing and assaulting her back on September 15th, and said that her home was burglarized by Gardner, LeBlanc and Alexander on September 16th.
She also noted she filed complaints with both the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington and Georgetown University Police Department.
“Georgetown University men’s basketball players James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc will not be playing for the men’s basketball team effective immediately and will not be members of the team for the remainder of the season,” Georgetown said in an official statement.
“Georgetown takes student conduct issues very seriously and ensures that they are investigated thoroughly. While we are not able to comment on specific cases, we have processes for investigating and adjudicating alleged violations for our student code that are fair to both parties. We encourage any student who has a concern to be in contact with the Georgetown University Police Department or the Office of Student Conduct.”
Memphis’ James Wiseman Declared Ineligible
Memphis Tigers star James Wiseman has been declared ineligible and will be withheld from competition while the school awaits reinstatement from the NCAA, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
Earlier on Thursday, it was announced that Wiseman had dropped his lawsuit against the NCAA, which was a restraining order, according to an official statement issued by Wiseman’s legal team:
Wiseman is the projected number 1 overall pick for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer Rules Out Return as Coach
Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer ruled out a potential return as the Vols head coach, saying he no desire to return to the sideline and that the “coaching chapter of my life is closed”, according to ESPN’s Chris Low.
Fulmer, 69, led the Vols to a national championship in 1998. Fulmer was fired at the end of the 2008 season following a second losing season in four years.
“We’ve got a good football coach, and I believe in Jeremy Pruitt totally,” Fulmer said. “I have no interest in coaching again and would rather spend that time being a grandfather and doing whatever I can as athletic director in helping Jeremy get this program where we all want it to be. Any talk of me coaching again is just a bunch of rumors.”
Fulmer’s only focus is being the AD at his alma mater.
“I’m way past that point in my life,” Fulmer said. “I love the job I have [as AD] and am committed to seeing this thing through.”
“Jeremy Pruitt is as bought in as anybody could possibly be bought in at the University of Tennessee,” Fulmer said.
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