HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The 2020-21 college basketball season was a unique one as teams tried to navigate playing in the midst of a pandemic.
"I remember someone asking early in the year before we started playing, what would a successful year for William and Mary look like, and I remember the first thing I said was being able to complete it," William & Mary men's basketball coach Dane Fischer said.
"Don’t get me wrong, I hate to lose just as much as anybody else, but getting through the season was a victory for everybody," Hampton men's basketball coach Edward "Buck" Joyner said.
"There was a lot of questions and a lot of doubters early on, and it wasn’t always smooth sailing," Old Dominion men's basketball coach Jeff Jones said.
As Jones said, it wasn't smooth sailing. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, over 20 percent of college basketball games were postponed this season and half of those were canceled.
The Monarchs, Pirates and Tribe were among those cancellations at different points in the season.
"It was so unique when you face those pauses, because coming out of those pauses guys haven’t done anything from ten days to two weeks," Fischer said.
Even when the entire team is healthy, the fear of catching COVID-19 was always present.
"We tested daily, so every day, those 15 minutes were the longest 15 minutes of your life," Joyner said.
Postponements, cancellations and worry are all in the past now and we look ahead to tonight's title game, a game that all three coaches believe belongs to the Zags.
"The only way I think you can predict these things is to look and see who's the best team," Jones said. "Clearly they’re the best team.
"Albeit it's not the most educated because I haven't seen Baylor," Fischer said. "Gonzaga looks pretty good and they had a game like they did on Saturday, sometimes you just get that team of destiny thing."
“The only team I thought could beat Gonzaga was Michigan," Joyner said. "I have to go with Gonzaga.”
And if you're wondering whether these coaches enjoy watching the tournament when their teams are not playing in it, "Every game I watch it burns me the hell up that I'm not playing," Joyner said. "But, it's one of the few times that I get to watch the game and I get to be a fan."