Yesterday evening, Gonzaga clawed their way to a hard-fought victory over UCLA to punch a ticket to the program's first Elite Eight since the program's Cinderella run in 1999.
The game, played inside what felt like the largest building on the planet
, was marked by poor outside shooting by both teams, but gave us a Gonzaga team that knows how to grind out a win when they need to. Thanks to Przemek Karnowski's 18 points, the Zags knocked off UCLA. He also made TWO passes like this to lead the way to a 74-62 win.
Now, Gonzaga takes on Duke at 2:05 pm on Sunday. The game is on CBS.
It's been a long, long while since the Zags were in the Elite Eight and there are some naysayers out there who think that their inability to make it deep into March (and often getting stuck in the Round of 32
) is a sign that Gonzaga is not a true national power. True, Mark Few's teams haven't always executed in the tournament, but the years since that first trip to the Elite Eight have seen the program, and the university, make some huge strides.
Here's just a few things that have happened since the then-Dan Monson-coached team beat Florida to get to the Elite Eight in March of 1999.
- Gonzaga has won 438 games
, averaging 27 wins a season.
- Undergraduate enrollment at Gonzaga was just 2,747 in 1999. Now it's 4,896.
- The Zags played in the tiny Martin Centre back then, now their campus is home to the 6,000-seat, $25 million McCarthey Athletic Center.
- Back then, the team flew commercial and slept in often less-than-great motels. Now, the Zags travel by chartered jet.
- A total of 10 Gonzaga players have gone on to make an NBA roster (Richie Frahm, Dan Dickau, Ronny Turiaf, Adam Morrison, Jeremy Pargo, Austin Daye, Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris, David Stockton).
- Mark and Marcy Few's Coaches vs. Cancer events in Spokane raised about $7 million for cancer research and assistance for cancer patients.
- Gonzaga's acceptance rate dropped from about 85 percent in 1999 to about 61 percent in recent years asthe university became a more prominent regional school.
- The school has built about $56 million
worth of new facilities (not including the McCarthey Center).
- Gonzaga has made 17-straight NCAA tournaments. The only teams with a longer streak are Duke and Kansas.
This article has been updated since it was originally posted.