Gonzaga’s Anton Watson addressed the challenges of dealing with doubters this season, stating, “At some stage, we all learned to tune it out.”

Despite undergoing significant changes to their roster and roles, the Gonzaga Bulldogs faced considerable expectations at the start of the 2023-24 season. Predictors and fans anticipated that the team’s on-paper potential would swiftly translate into on-court success. However, the integration of coveted transfers with returning players adapting to new responsibilities took time. Compounded by a challenging nonconference schedule, the Bulldogs found themselves with an 11-5 record in early January, dropping out of the AP Top 25 poll and being cast as doubtful contenders for March Madness by some pundits.

Amidst widespread skepticism, the Gonzaga program, under Mark Few’s leadership, once again rose to the challenge. They secured victories in 14 of their final 16 games leading up to Selection Sunday, transforming from being on the postseason bubble to earning a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ultimately, they advanced to their ninth consecutive Sweet 16, demonstrating top-tier performance to close out the season.

Reflecting on the team’s journey, Anton Watson shared the initial difficulty of hearing criticisms from fans and analysts, acknowledging doubts about their abilities. Despite this external noise, the Bulldogs persevered, focusing on their internal dynamics and blocking out distractions to achieve success on the court. Watson delved further into the team’s experience and more on a recent episode of Gonzaga Nation.

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