Bulldogs Took Fighting Spirit Out Of Camels
By Matt Breach
Special to GoZags.com
SPOKANE, Wash. - If there was any uncertainty heading into Gonzaga's encounter with Campbell, it had little to do with the expected outcome. The only real intrigue was finding out if a camel truly possesses a fighting spirit.
The answer, as it turns out, was exactly what one would expect from a rangy, hoofed animal best known for humps and supreme hydration.
Gonzaga pounded the Fighting Camels from Campbell 74-52 on Wednesday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs, ranked 14th in both polls, improved to 11-1 with the victory.
"They have done absolutely fantastic," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of his players. "With the schedule that we have thrown at them, with the teams we've played ... these guys have done a remarkable job."
Campbell, a school of nearly 6,200 students, is based in Buies Creek, N.C. Its most-famous sports alum is former Major Leaguer Gaylord Perry. The school's mascot, Gaylord the Camel, is named after the Hall of Fame pitcher.
A camel may not seem like the most natural mascot for a school from the East Coast. But the animal, believe it or not, was actually native to North America at one time. That was, of course, millions of years ago before humans migrated to the continent from Asia.
The Fighting Camels, while no doubt distinctive, may not boast the most unusual nickname in college sports. The Banana Slugs from UC Santa Cruz can certainly lay claim to the title, as can the Student Princes of Heidelberg University in Ohio. Then there are the Blue Hose of Presbyterian and the Trinity Christian Trolls.
Everyone from the state of Washington, or at least Olympia, is likely familiar with the mascot of Evergreen State College. Its moniker, inspired by the world's largest burrowing clam, is the Geoducks.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with utilizing a more standard nickname. Sometimes being something straightforward, like a canine, is intimidating enough.
The Bulldogs' frontcourt dominated Wednesday's game, outscoring Campbell 44-8 in the paint. Przemek Karnowski paced the Zags with 14 points while Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris added 12 and 11, respectively. Harris also doled out a career-high six assists.
The Bulldogs were particularly impressive in the opening half, when they shot 61 percent from the field. Their sharp shooting allowed them to build a lead as large as 31 points.
"We were pretty darn efficient on offense," Few said, "especially in the first half to put the game away."
Gonzaga was perhaps most impressive at the free throw line. The Zags, who normally shoot just 65 percent from the stripe, made all but four of their 25 attempts. That effort was bolstered by Olynyk, who drained all 10 of his charity tosses.
While the Fighting Camels provided little challenge, Gonzaga will certainly encounter fiercer foes in the near future. Dates with bears, cougars, even other bulldogs, still await the Zags.
By the way, does anyone else wonder where Zags fall in the range of peculiar nicknames and mascots? Alphabetically, at least, it comes after Yeomen and before Zips.