It is true that all good things must come to an end — I just thought Gonzaga was going to be the exception.
During the last decade it seemed that Gonzaga winning the West Coast Conference (WCC) had joined taxes and death on the list of life’s guarantees, but sadly this streak could be coming to an end.
When San Francisco guard Rashad Green hit a short game-winning leaner with 3.3 seconds left to play Saturday night against Gonzaga, reality began to set in for Gonzaga fans everywhere.
Gonzaga may no longer be the king of the WCC anymore.
After 12 straight years of playing big brother to the rest of the league, including three undefeated seasons, little brother might have finally had enough.
Saturday’s loss dropped Gonzaga a game behind St. Mary’s with only two league games remaining, and now instead of controlling their own destiny, the Bulldogs are going to need some help if they are going to at least share a 12th straight conference title.
The road does not get much easier for the Zags either as they still have a game to play against a formidable BYU team that dominated the court against them earlier this month.
Gonzaga currently sits in second place all-time for consecutive Division I regular season titles with 11. Only John Wooden’s UCLA teams from 1967-79 have more with 13.
Gonzaga’s magical run was launched in the 2000-01 season by Gonzaga legends Dan Dickau and Casey Calvary.
During this streak we have been introduced to stars such as Blake Stepp and Ronny Turiaf, and unforgettable characters such as Adam Morrison and Jeremy Pargo.
Now it appears it will all come to an end on the shoulders of senior center Robert Sacre, but that is not something he likes to dwell on.
“There is pride, but I don’t think we think about it,” Sacre said. “We focus on playing basketball and let everything else work itself out.”
Unfortunately, the chances that things will work themselves out this time for the Zags appears very bleak.
But no matter how badly I want Gonzaga’s name to be forever written in the history of college basketball, the ultimate goal is not to break the consecutive conference titles record, it is to be cutting down the nets at the end of March.
Junior forward Elias Harris believes that this team still has all its goals in reach, even if the streak does come to an end.
"If you look at it big picture, what we play for is the NCAA tournament, so I'm still dialed in," Harris said after the loss to San Francisco.
Although it may seem otherwise to people who do not follow the WCC, Gonzaga can take solace in the fact that it was not its undoing that could have the conference crown moving out of Spokane.
The truth is, the WCC is more competitive than it has ever been.
St. Mary’s and BYU are on their way to becoming top tier programs, while Loyola Marymount is one of the most underrated teams in the country this season.
Even San Francisco has been a thorn in Gonzaga’s side as they have beaten the Zags three times in the last three seasons.
However, this next week of basketball plays out, nobody can diminish the impact that these last 11 seasons have had on Gonzaga basketball.
The program has flourished from an unknown tiny Jesuit school nestled in Spokane, to a perennial force in college basketball and a household name.
If this is in fact the end, I have been blessed to witness one of the greatest runs in college basketball history. To the past players who laid the foundation, and the present who continue to uphold the tradition, I thank you.