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3 Key Elements for a Final Four Basketball Miracle for Gonzaga

A single moment can be miraculous, and nearly all NCAA men’s basketball championship teams have encountered something of the miracle in their separate paths to the pinnacle of what some call the greatest sporting event in the world.  March Madness is a single-elimination tournament that pits the 68 top teams in men’s college basketball against each other for 3 weekends in March (and one night in April), until there is only one team left standing.  Fanatics go wild for it, spend every waking hour following it, and often fall into depression when their team loses out.  Remember the loss to UCLA in the Morrison years?  There was a swath of Spokane that seemed caught in a haze of pain and regret, a broken-hearted zombie-land more real than many would like to admit.  Okay, some of us get crazy over sports.   

 Basketball can become a furnace of immense heat to the character of young men and women, a crucible, a testing fire that generally wilts the spirit or makes one stronger.  In the case of the 2017 Zags men’s basketball team, and so many exceptional Zags men’s teams that have gone before, I see three unifiers that are generally unsung, but form a powerful engine at the heart of great teams. 

  • First: humble coach, humble team.  
  • Second: gratitude generates brotherhood and self-sacrifice.  
  • Third: courage makes people gritty, and grit is contagious.   

In the human arena, as fraught as it is with unrest, alienation, and outright inequity, it seems right to me that college basketball teams sometimes represent a place where young men develop a brotherhood that transcends many of our all too common human ills.  Mundane but ultimately decisive qualities such as humility and gratitude can form a bridge that connects these young men, and their courage and grit can give those of us who are fans a window into a deeper understanding of ourselves and others when we face the intensity of life together.  In persistent acts of humility and gratitude, a team reveals its character.  In purposeful acts of courage and grit, a team proves its chemistry, its culture.  With the 2017 Zags, their mettle may be most fittingly captured in what transpired the final minute of the game against West Virginia to advance to the Elite 8.  Before 20,000 screaming fans, in a game like a junkyard dogfight, a moment of sheer tenacity unfolded.  Every possession was of extreme value: every turnover meant the lost dream; every made basket meant the dream still alive. In the final minute, Zags point guard Nigel Williams-Goss gathered a huge rebound but when he tried to dribble, the ball was stolen and in a flash West Virginia’s big man Nathan Adrian had it, soaring toward the rim for a sure two points that would seal the victory for the Mountaineers. 

But then came the miracle.  

This is an exerpt from an article written by Shann Ray for the Spokane Inlander.  Click here to finish reading the full article. 


Shann Ray played profssional basketball in Europe. He is a former NBC Basketball Camper, Travel Team member to both the UK and Former Soviet Union, and has been a coach and basketball advisor for NBC Camps for over 20 years. 


NBC Basketball Camps coaches and directors are passionate about humility, courage, and gratitude. Since 1971, our camps are built on the philosophy these three qualities are necessary for great basketball and a great life. Camps are held in six countries and numerous cities. If you believe in the importance of attitude, discipline, gratitude, courage, humility and hard work, we want you at NBC Camps this summer.  Find out more

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