Greg Anthony has played for and against teams that are considered among the best the NCAA has produced. He has followed college basketball since his playing days in the NBA ended in 2001. And he will put this Gonzaga team up there with any champion.
“They’re one of the best collegiate teams I’ve ever seen, in terms of truly not really having a weakness,” the former Knicks point guard and current Turner Sports and SiriusXM analyst told The Post in a phone interview on the eve of the Final Four. “They’re a great defensive team, they’re a great passing team, they’re a very unselfish team, and they have a terrific complementary skill-set. They have all the bases covered and they compete.”
Gonzaga, which meets UCLA on Saturday night, might not have more talent than some of the teams it would join if it can finish off this perfect season. It remains to be seen how many of its players will have long NBA careers, although it does appear that freshman point guard Jalen Suggs has star potential at the next level, and the Bulldogs did place three players — Suggs, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme — on the Associated Press’ first two All-American teams. What stands out to Anthony is how well the Zags play together, how consistent they have been. They’re 30-0, and only one game, against West Virginia, was a single-digit victory. They have defeated their four tournament opponents by a combined 96 points.
“I don’t even know that people appreciate just how good they are,” Anthony said. “They have a chance to go down as one of the very best teams to ever be assembled. They’re not necessarily going to have the best NBA players, but as a collegiate group, they’re as good as I can recall seeing.”
“I love watching their unselfishness. They really do the best job of just making the right play. When you watch the game of basketball, it’s rare that you get to see teams that do everything right. By that I mean, even their mistakes are the right mistakes. They don’t take good shots; they look for the great shots. They get as much joy out of the assists as they do the baskets. They get as much joy out of taking a charge as they do scoring. They just enjoy winning as a group.”
Gonzaga is dealing with pressure this weekend, two victories away from writing its name into the history books, becoming the eighth different team to complete a season undefeated.
Anthony knows what coach Mark Few’s team is going through. His UNLV team — Larry Johnson’s UNLV team — was 34-0 in 1991, following its national championship the year before, before being upset by Duke in the national semifinals. No team, since Indiana in 1975-76, has completed a perfect season. Kentucky lost in the national semifinals to Wisconsin in 2015 and Indiana State fell to Michigan State in the championship game in 1979.
Thinking about being this close to history would be a mistake.
“When you start allowing your mind to get ahead of yourself, you start thinking about what could be,” Anthony said. “That’s when you put yourself in a situation where you can get caught, or you can be flat or you can not be at your best because your mind’s not where it needs to be.”
So far, that hasn’t been a problem for Gonzaga.
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