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Gonzaga not this year's Cinderella

By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 23, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dan Rosen

And then there were four.

Four deserving teams, three of which had their dominance overshadowed by a school from Spokane, Wash., called Gonzaga.

We all know about Dan Monson's Bulldogs now, thanks to our friends at CBS and ESPN.

We all know they went to the Elite 8 by knocking out an academic All-American Minnesota squad, Arizona's best friend the Stanford Cardinal and a pretty good, yet overachieving Florida Gator team.

But, are the Zags the Cinderella in this year's big dance? Is there a Cinderella this year?

Ask the so-called experts who picked Arizona in the Final Four in 1997 and they will probably say there is a Cinderella in order to spark an emotional conversation.

Ask the Bulldogs and they will tell you they have been this good for the entire season.

I'm listening to the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga was a solid team that won its conference and pulled an underrated No. 10 seed.

For anyone to say they knew this would happen is preposterous, but for anyone to say they didn't believe it could happen is even worse.

Minnesota was without their famous Lewis and Clark combination, which made them less than invincible. Stanford was a good team, but if anyone believed the Cardinal had a shot at going far in the tournament with a weak center in Tim Young and the burden that the Maples' fans put on it, then that one person, Mike Montgomery, was not doing his homework.

That left Florida, which got past Ivy League powerhouse Penn and the sleeper who left the Tar Heels bleeding in Weber State. This matchup in the Sweet 16 might have been the best game in the tournament up to that point.

The Zags prevailed with late game heroics and a miscue by the Gators. Next up, the stoic team from Storrs, the UConn Huskies.

There you have it, the Bulldogs run to the Elite 8. We all knew it, but what makes them a Cinderella?

Is it because they are a small school? Is it because they play in the West Coast Conference? Is it because they were kind of a no-name coming into the tournament?

This team was not given an automatic bid; they made it by beating everyone in their conference. This team has solid players and a coach who has built a good foundation in Spokane.

Gonzaga was no Cinderella. North Carolina State was in 1983 as was Villanova in 1985.

Those teams, like Gonzaga, were not picked to win the tournament, but they at least made it into the Final Four.

For a team to have the prestigious name Cinderella, they have to win something.

The real Cinderella won the prince. So our modern day so-called Cinderellas should have to win as well. All Gonzaga got was some national recognition and a lot of memories.

So instead of thinking about the sleepers like Gonzaga, Creighton, Miami of Ohio or Weber State, why don't we start thinking about the teams that actually have a shot at parading home with the beautiful trophy such as the one that sits in the basketball office at McKale Center?

And by the way, the only team that may actually have a chance at holding the distinction of a Cinderella is Ohio State. They made it to the Final Four one year removed from a last place finish in the Big Ten and a losing record.

Good luck to the Buckeyes, but I think C.M. Newton has already secretly handed the trophy to Mike Krzyzewski and the parade plans in Durham, N.C., have been finalized for weeks.