When a college basketball program appears in 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, it undoubtedly will lay claim to some seriously talented teams. As the Gonzaga Bulldogs gear up for their 19th straight, they also find themselves the top-ranked team in the country and nearing an undefeated regular season. So the question begs to be asked: Is this head coach Mark Few’s best team yet?
Tom Hudson, Gonzaga’s longtime play-by-play announcer for IMG Radio, helped “Danny, Dave and Moore” get some perspective on the current squad, and explained why the Zags have yet to be beaten this late into their schedule.
“I think the depth of this team … our top eight guys, we’ve just got a rotation that at every single position is just really strong,” Hudson said Monday. “There’s not that much drop-off when Coach Few has to go to the bench.”
That’s evidenced on the stat sheet, where Gonzaga has seven players averaging at least eight points per game and six players that see at least 20 minutes of action per game. It also helps that the Bulldogs are never lacking for playmakers on the court.
“I think this team is probably a little more athletic than some of the teams we’ve had in the past,” Hudson said.
Even with its history of sustained success, Gonzaga’s run this season came somewhat out of nowhere considering it lost its two best players from last year in Kyle Wiltjer (graduation) and Damontas Sabonis (early entry to the NBA). But where that duo left off, junior transfer Nigel Williams-Goss has picked up.
A former Washington Husky, Williams-Goss has returned to action with a bang this season after being sidelined last year due to transfer rules. He leads the Zags with 15.7 points, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game, and he’s even tied for the lead in rebounds at 5.8 per game despite being a 6-foot-3 point guard.
“He’s been huge. It’s been unbelievable, and I think one of the big questions going into this year was with Sabonis leaving early to the NBA and with Kyle Wiltjer being gone … was, who was gonna become the lead dog? Who was gonna be the guy that would maybe step forward and take the big shot or maybe take the reins a little bit? And Nigel’s been the one that’s done that,” Hudson said. “He’s done a wonderful job when we’ve needed baskets of stepping forward and making plays.
“He plays with such great pace. You kinda watch Nigel play and he’s maybe not the fastest guy, he maybe doesn’t jump the highest, but (he’s) just good and solid and makes the right play 99 percent of the time (and) can score it from a lot of different places.”