Gonzaga (26-0) is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country, and yet, many people are not taking the Bulldogs seriously because they have never advanced to the Final Four despite 18 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. People say this is the same Gonzaga team that we see every year: a great regular-season team that will ultimately get bounced early in March.
That has to be a little frustrating, no?
“Well, there’s frustration for people to think that way, but I think a lot of it – and I hate to say this – it’s just ignorance,” former Gonzaga star Dan Dickau said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “People want to (say), ‘Oh, that’s the same Gonzaga team that’s been there for years.’ Well, no. This is a different team that has kind of been built differently than Gonzaga teams have in the past.”
Dickau, 38, played for Gonzaga in the early 2000s and was a first-team All-American as a senior in 2002.
“I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “The team that I was on and some of the other teams have been strictly built on, ‘We’re going to outscore you. We’re going to give it a shot on the defensive end, but we’re by no means going to be able to lock you down.’ I think the program has shifted over the past few years to be able to start locking you down and really kind of playing to their strengths on both ends of the floor. This year’s team is a perfect culmination of that.”
Gonzaga has five players averaging double figures and seven averaging at least 8.2 points per game.
“They’re the only team that’s in the top five efficiency ratings of both offense and defense,” Dickau said. “I don’t care what league you’re in. You have to be pretty darn good to do that across the board.”
Granted, the West Coast Conference will never be confused with the ACC, but the Zags have still won plenty of tough games this season.
“They can’t do anything about (their conference schedule),” Dickau said. “They can’t tell the other teams in their league, ‘Hey, go get better.’ They’ve tried and it just hasn’t worked. So they’ve had to continue to get creative with their scheduling, and their non-conference schedule turned out really good this year. They beat a good Florida team who’s beaten Kentucky. They’ve beaten a good Iowa State team. They’ve beaten Akron, who is probably going to make the NCAA Tournament. They’ve beaten Arizona. They’ve beaten some other good teams. But it doesn’t matter what it is. They’re always going to have to deal with a certain perception (of playing in a weak league).”
Aside from Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga hasn’t played a ranked team since beating Arizona on Dec. 3. The Zags play San Francisco (18-9) on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.