Gonzaga has to live with entrance so close

2:57 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. — One day before he won a third inhabitant pretension of his career, Roy Williams was articulate about a third pretension that wasn’t — perplexing to explain what it’s like to be on a other finish of a detriment like a one North Carolina took opposite Villanova when Kris Jenkins‘ buzzer-beater sailed by a net roughly accurately one year ago.

“In a locker room was a many — it was a many formidable time I’ve ever had as a coach,” Williams said. “Because we felt so inadequate. What was we going to contend to my guys?”

It took a pretension for North Carolina to forget about final year

One year after carrying their hearts damaged on a same stage, a Tar Heels sealed that unpleasant section and flipped a book to win their sixth inhabitant championship.

  • Let’s be honest: UNC-Gonzaga was tough to watch

    We know what you’re thinking, so we’ll go forward and contend it: That was not a good inhabitant pretension game. With all those whistles and missed shots, North Carolina-Gonzaga was tough to get through.

  • North Carolina scratches and nails a approach to Roy Williams’ third title

    North Carolina was means to finish a pursuit this time around, as a Tar Heels done large plays late to exist Gonzaga and win their sixth inhabitant title.

  • Williams didn’t have this problem Monday night. Mark Few did. Few’s charge was roughly equally impossible: The 37-2 Zags had only mislaid their final diversion of a deteriorate a possession or dual from a idea they were sure, right adult to a final few moments of Monday’s 71-65 loss, they would achieve.

    What do we contend to Przemek Karnowski, a winningest actor in college basketball history, about a 1-of-8 he shot in his final game? How do we console Nigel Williams-Goss, who sprained his ankle and refused to leave a building for a second time in dual games, who detonate into ravaged tears a impulse a win was out of reach?

    How do we sire adult a organisation that only played a misfortune descent diversion of an differently shining deteriorate when a few some-more buckets would have done all a difference? How do we lessen a organisation of 18- to 24-year-old kids — a organisation that carried Gonzaga basketball serve than it had ever gone, a organisation that had so reveled in proof that all everybody had pronounced about a Zags and a NCAA contest was stupid and wrong — disturbed they let we and thousands of others down?

    Seriously: What do we even say?

    “To be so tighten for us is a temporarily abrasive blow right now,” Few said. “But I’m anticipating and meaningful viewpoint will come with time.”

    “He even used that word too,” Gonzaga ensure Josh Perkins said, murmur and red-eyed during his locker. “Not right now. we don’t even know what that means.”

    Whether Perkins and his teammates wanted to acknowledge it, there was good news embedded in their agonise Monday night: It is unfit to be this unhappy if we didn’t entirely design to win.

    Twenty years ago, when Gonzaga initial streaked into a NCAA contest as a friendly different insurgent, this energetic would have been unthinkable. Those Zags were drifting by a chair of their pants, enjoying a ride, undoing one contest favorite after another, giveaway of expectations. This weekend, Few described those early years as “foot lax and imagination free,” since no one during Gonzaga, from a administration to a players, knew any better.

    Then, roughly miraculously, Gonzaga refused to incline into a college basketball wilderness. Instead, Few and his module grew and grew and grew — initial to a long-lived contest team, afterwards to one with a actor of a year-level star like Adam Morrison, afterwards to a powerhouse with frequent, and legitimate, national-title aspirations.

    Along a way, this former startup from a 5,000-enrollment Jesuit propagandize in Spokane, Washington, somehow morphed into a lightning rod — a complicated blue blood from a mid-major conference, a area for absurd annual takes about strength of report and NCAA contest seeding and NCAA contest “disappointments,” as if Gonzaga hadn’t proven how crazy a NCAA contest is in a initial place. Somehow, Few became a print child for concern-trolling about carrying never been to a Final Four.

    The 2016-17 Gonzaga Bulldogs exploded all of that nonsense into myth. If zero else, a intelligent college basketball fan should appreciate them for that.

    “They positively lighted a lot of seared people that were kind of wearied with a Zags and observant that we haven’t been able of achieving something like this,” Few said.

    Bulldogs ensure Jordan Mathews offering his take.

    “How many teams would take 37-2, joining champs, inhabitant runner-up?” pronounced Mathews, whose Cal organisation mislaid in a initial turn final open before his connoisseur send to Gonzaga. “We pennyless that potion roof that everybody pronounced we couldn’t get over. Everybody was observant a Zags couldn’t get to a Final Four. We did that.”

    Even better, Gonzaga didn’t only get to a Final Four — a approach that, say, a 1999 Bulldogs got to a Elite Eight. They didn’t float in on some dumb array of upsets; they weren’t some mind-blowing Mar story that only happened to hang around for an additional weekend.

    They were a best organisation in a nation flattering most all season. They mislaid dual games. They finished initial in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index and initial in KenPom.com’s practiced potency ratings. They starred several chosen recruits. They brought a intensity first-round breeze pick, Zach Collins, off a bench. Despite an implausible blue-blood competition led by coaching legend, a tough, late non-call out of end on a Kennedy Meeks rebound/jump round and Williams-Goss’ horribly timed sprained ankle, they finished (basically) a possession brief of a inhabitant title.

    And there’s no reason to design Gonzaga won’t be behind in this accurate same position, progressing rather than later.

    “Talking to [Syracuse manager Jim] Boeheim progressing in a week, he told me it will vanquish we if we don’t win it,” Few said. “And we theory we didn’t know it. But a heedful aged maestro is right. Man, it crushes you.”

    Few described that review shortly after he described a 10 mins he had spent perplexing to console Williams-Goss. The ensure couldn’t “process losing,” Few said, “because it doesn’t occur unequivocally mostly to him.”

    Therein lies a upside of Gonzaga’s hurt, a thing Few attempted to get opposite even when there was zero he could unequivocally say.

    Gonzaga wasn’t happy with a small place on a stage, nor should they have been, that is accurately because they were so sad Monday night.

    The Bulldogs were great, and so their pain was too.

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