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Playing in the shadow of Gonzaga No. 1, Archelian Washington men wanted to mark the NCAA tournament

When you live 16 miles from the No. 1 team in the country, you open the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This is only the third meeting in the history of the school. Saturday against Kansas, the dirtiest of them all, you know your place in the ring hierarchy.

“They are excited to play against Kansas,” said Washington coach Shantey Legans of his Eagles. “I told people. Do you know that no one wakes up as a basketball player and says, “I can’t wait to go to Cheney, go to Archelian, play Legans coach.” It does not happen. But people do wake up saying they want to go to Kansas. “They’re probably constantly getting calls about players.”

It does not mean that Arjelyan is just happy to be here, take into account. “Here” being the balloon in Indianapolis, where all the NCAA men’s teams are housed. Well, they are are: happy; “Crazy excitement” is a term used by coach Leggs because he is world famous in Cheney. But eagles also see it as a golden opportunity to carve out their place on the basketball court.

It’s not easy in the huge, shocking shade of Gonzaga in nearby Spokane. Six years ago, the Eagles campaigned for the NCAA Tournament under current Seattle University coach Jim’s Hayford, assisted by Legans. Legans does not consider Gonzaga a zero-sum competitor. He sees an exemplary program from which to learn, perhaps even take a few tricks; և More than enough glory for everyone to share.

“Being around is about being around,” Legans said of Gonzaga’s aura. “It simply came to our notice then that we were not paying much attention to them. We accept all that. We are able to watch how the No. 1 team works, how they work. We are trying to steal particles from here and there. ”

This means, at least in the construction process, finding hidden gems in the collection path, milking the maximum of their talents. The Eagles are led by Big Sky MVP Tanner Groves of Spokane Shadle Park High School, with considerable help from his younger brother Jacob Jacob. Kim Ike, Jr. of Redlands, California, was the junior defensive player of the year.

Washington striker Taner Groves, 35, moves the ball around Montana striker Ubbril Bello during the NCAA College basketball game for the 2021 Big Sky Men’s Championship in Boise, Idaho. Saturday, March 13. Archelyan Washington won 65-55 (Otto Kittinger / AP)

A 6-foot 9-foot Taner Groves raised his voice on Tuesday, saying that most of his assistants seem to be passing on to his 6-7 siblings; on the contrary, it may be the result of endless school games on their way. Tanner’s nickname is Psycho-T, which means his showy, intense style of play that feeds the team.

“When things don’t go my way, I can go a little crazy,” said Groves, who averages 16.4 points և 8.1 per game. “When everything goes my way, I bring a lot of energy, a lot of passion and heart to the team.”

The Eagles have 10 players from the North-West in their program, including five in the application list for the tournament from Washington. Leganés hopes that their success ը in the spotlight will allow them to expand their recruiting base ձեռք to acquire future players on the current pitch.

“We are trying to get the baby that is perfect for us,” he said. “We have a hard time recruiting North-West, we go to the children who are sometimes seen. They come here and they thrive because we get them better. ”

Legans, 39, is a rising star in the profession. 75-48 records (610) in four years as a replacement for Hayford. This year’s NCAA promotion is under construction. In their first two years, the Eagles lost to Montana in the Big Sky title, and then won the regular season last year in a dominant style, only to have COVID-19 abruptly cancel the conference. They knocked on the door last week, beating Montana 65-55 to win the Big Sky championship.

Refreshing for Human Legans is a self-confident series that is rare in the college basketball coaching world. A double player of the Kalum tournament, he said about the inevitable comparisons with Gonzaga. “If you do not have it, those things do not bother you.”

This week, Legans told a great story that he was looking forward to meeting Kansas coach Bill Selfie when he saw the legend in the lobby of the Final Four hotel shortly after replacing Hayford. He thought that Self could recognize a new coaching peer. Instead, He said: “Hey, Boss,” he continued walking.

Now that the Legans are coming out against Self on Saturday, he could not have been more outspoken in his praise. He says he has long studied the collections and defensive principles used by the veteran coach, whose Kansas team has the longest consecutive streak of 31 years in the NCAA. Legans even watched Self’s press conference videos extensively to learn how he discusses his team.

Last year, when Eastern had a Big Sky MVP at the then-finished Mason Peatling, the Legans watched the Kansas Ribbon for some tips on how the two big ones integrated into the series.

“And I still couldn’t do it,” Legans said. “Last year I had an MVP (Groves) playing behind another MVP. And that MVP only got nine, 10 minutes of play. So I could not understand that part. That’s what makes Coach Self a Hall of Fame coach. ”

The Legans also freely accuse him of restraining himself at a high-profile club when he raised his class this season to play for Pac-12 schools, particularly Arizona. In the second half, the Eagles played about six minutes ago, but let it slip.

“We were really tense, really nervous,” he said. “It seemed to me that the whole program, not only the players, but also the coaches. : You want to have that victory. It is human nature. “So I stretched a little too much, I didn’t let them just go out, they were the same as before.”

Legans said otherwise. “I think it made me a little happier.”

It’s not a mistake he intends to make against the Kansas team, which is expected to miss two key players due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I will just let our boys play,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. They have the right to play the way they play, չեմ I’m not going to change that because of who we play.

“Obviously, we will do a lot of things differently defensively. And try to figure out how we’re going to stop them. But insultingly, I will let our boys go out and hop. ”

The Eagles will be the heavyweights of Kansas, but not even being able to get bored, being on this big stage means everything to the program. Legans knows that somewhere a young basketball player will follow and think, in his words. “We can go to the East to be quite good. “We can play well. It can be a lot of fun because we watch the boys do it on TV.”

Coach Leggs believes there is plenty of room in East Washington’s basketball (small և) basketball circles for East Washington (the capital) to flourish. And maybe even one day in the future, when basketball kids wake up, they will say: “I can’t wait to go to Cheney.”

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