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Angelo Roncalli
02-20-2009, 10:37 AM
If this is February, then the Gonzaga votary must be aggrieved that the objects of his devotion aren’t 50 points better than the Little Dons of the Poor, if not pitching a shutout.

If this is February, Mark Few must be lamenting the outsized mandate under which his program labors.

This is routine now honed to ritual, comic in both its extremes. Latter-day converts to the Church of More and a coach resigned to the inevitability that a goal too often achieved is somehow rendered irrelevant.

For the ninth consecutive year, the Zags are regular-season champions of the West Coast Conference, something best whispered in the company of hardliners who don’t understand why Gonzaga doesn’t just secede from this one-horse league and barnstorm through the Top 25 Globetrotter-style from November to March.

A 91-54 romp over Loyola Marymount did the trick Thursday night, and presumably the 37-point spread was sufficient not to set off alarms – although the Lions are the worst Division I basketball team on the planet, if you forget that a week ago they beat San Diego, which was supposed to be prepping for another trip to the NCAA tournament right about now.

The ho accompanying the hum of that ninth straight title is another 20-victory season – 12 in a row for the Zags. But we know how devalued that is.

“People in places like ours and Gonzaga’s get spoiled and expect to win every game,” Memphis coach John Calipari said before his Tigers kicked around the Zags earlier this month. “In Memphis they think 30 wins is the bench mark and that’s crazy.”

Coaches are, of course, notorious for trying to throttle back public expectation, lest they get run over by their own locomotive.

And maybe this is a little bit of that, but it’s also something else. Expectation doesn’t seem to bother Few as much as presumption.

“I don’t think winning our league is something we ever need to get bored with,” he said.

Does he sense the Gonzaga fan has?

“Yeah, and I think our guys feel that – and it’s terribly unfortunate,” he said. “We have high expectations, but we’re not Duke, we’re not Carolina and we’re not Kentucky. We aspire to be, but we’re not yet.

“What was set before our guys, they accomplished. They won the league – a league that was supposed to be one of if not the best league ever, in terms of teams with NCAA experience and experienced players back. Now they’ll move on to other things we’ve set before them.”

Not only will the Zags win the league, but they figure to win it by at least three and maybe four or five games, a remarkable rout given not only the presence of last year’s other NCAA tournament teams, Saint Mary’s and San Diego, but the emergence of unsung Portland. Yes, both the Gaels and Toreros have suffered huge injury hits with the loss of Patrick Mills and Brandon Johnson, respectively – and the subsequent devastation is almost shrugged off as a given.

And yet any Zagaphile would still expect to win if Gonzaga were to lose a player of a similar stature.

“No question,” Few said. “And I’d still think we could, too.”

The state of toughness in the Gonzaga program has been questioned of late, and not without some cause, but contrast the unfathomable collapse of San Diego and how Saint Mary’s fainted after the loss of their leaders to what happened with the Zags two years ago when they found themselves without Josh Heytvelt down the stretch.

Which is not to say the Zags haven’t stumbled over their Nikes a bit lately.

But who hasn’t? Didn’t Duke lose a pair last week? Butler, the de facto Gonzaga of the Midwest, dropped two in a row – one to 14-15 Loyola of Illinois – and has struggled mightily twice against Detroit, which will lose 22 or 23 games.

“This seems to be the norm in college basketball,” Few said. “This group or generation of kids can’t seem to maintain concentration for 35 games. Outside of Pitt and maybe UConn, everybody else has had some head-scratchers.”

But, of course, the issue for the most demanding of fans has nothing to do with the regular season. Consecutive first-round exits in the NCAAs are a particular source of angst – and presented with the fact of, say, the back-to-back champions of Florida not even making the field last year, or misses by a Syracuse or some other power, they will counter that those teams get a pass because of previous titles or Final Four appearances that the Zags do not have.

Traditions that were built over the course of 70 years, Gonzaga is presumed to have duplicated in 15.

“Sure, we aspire to more than a league championship,” Few said, “and we have every year. That doesn’t mean we take it for granted.

“But it’s not national championship or bust. That’s ridiculous. We’re Gonzaga and we’re still working on those kinds of traditions. We want to accomplish as many new things for this program as we can.

“But that doesn’t lessen an old accomplishment like winning the league, either. We should never think we’re too good to celebrate that.”

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/feb/20/zags-hum-along-without-ho-hum/

BobZag
02-20-2009, 10:47 AM
Share your thoughts, everyone.

MDABE80
02-20-2009, 10:49 AM
1. John's been reading the board/ our minds.
2. Outside of PDX St, GU's other 4 losses have come against 4 of the top 35 teams at KenPom. It's not like the team up and had had 4 unimaginable losses. Outside of UConn and Memphis, those losses came against good teams.........we just didn't know it at the time. Ariz, UConn, Utah, Memphis---> all good teams.

bballbeachbum
02-20-2009, 10:55 AM
I love our coach!!! one word for him:

Great

Reborn
02-20-2009, 10:56 AM
I think most fans, including myself, don't know Mark Few all that well. We know he coaches the Zags. We know he's been there 20 years, ten as a head coach. We know he's one of the best young coaches in America. Yet, I just haven't heard (or read) much about Mark (accept his love for fishing). There are some great quotes from Few in this article, and it seems as I get to know him better (how he thinks) I really do see why he's such a great and successful coach. He also helps me get perspective on GU. This was a great article for me, and I really like what Few had to say. Winning a conference championship is a HUGE thing, and honorable, even it's it's the WCC (I can hear the laughter and sneers all the way to Carolina), and how about winning 8 in a row? I'm just trying to give more peope a reason to enjoy their sneers and jeers, while drinking their beers.:D

DADoZAG
02-20-2009, 10:57 AM
…SMACK…PUNCH…SLAP…

Few is class, Blanchette is golden, we are…

…THUD…SMACK…PUNCH…

BoZarth
02-20-2009, 11:03 AM
And that missed free throw a couple of games back and that reaction to that foul and the three pointer the other team's player made . . .

TacomaZAG
02-20-2009, 11:07 AM
John Blanchette has been classing up the Spokane sports scene for many years. Can't argue with anything he says, as usual he's dead on. Sometimes it's hard to just enjoy the ride, especially since it has been so enjoyable for the last decade+. Nice to get a dose of perspective from John, and many others on this board. We are certainly spoiled and it's important to be reminded of it occasionally.

March is almost here, this is what we live for ZAG fans. A series of one-game seasons, I can't wait.

Go ZAGS

JAGzag
02-20-2009, 11:21 AM
Great article. Puts it into perspective. We do get spoiled as fans. I for one entered my GU experience in the year of the Elite 8 run as a student and haven't turned off a game since. I'm familiar with the last 10 years as "building years" but am not familiar with the years pre national stage. Good for all of us to know there is a history here.

El Voce
02-20-2009, 11:25 AM
i have long bought in to Mark Few's idea that the season is a long journey, filled with many peaks and valleys.

Those who fixate only on March miss out on the agony and ecstacy that is Gonzaga basketball. Slow down, smell the roses!

RenoZag
02-20-2009, 11:32 AM
And that missed free throw a couple of games back and that reaction to that foul and the three pointer the other team's player made . . .

:)

FuManShoes
02-20-2009, 11:43 AM
Great, great column from Blanchette and spot-on comments by Few and Calipari. I foolishly parsed and read too much into Few's "We're not Duke ..." comment posted in another thread and suggested that Calipari "got it" and Few didn't. Either I wasn't listening or Few didn't add in that clip the "... but we aspire to be" part. For me, that is a joy to hear. Not because I feel GU owes us anything as fans, but because I honestly believe players come to GU these days aspiring for more than league titles. That's not to say they -- and we -- shouldn't stop and really reflect on the amazing run of consistent excellence this program has achieved, but simply that there is something greater to shoot for and there's no shame in saying it. Congrats to the Zags on the 9th straight WCC crown. Relish it and use it as a stepping stone the next few weeks.

FieldHouseFishHouse
02-20-2009, 11:45 AM
We have a very level-headed, even-handed coach. I wish that I had (as a Zags fan, but even more so as a human being) the ability to balance appreciation of small or routine accomplishments with the drive to attain much larger goals.
By the way, Im not saying winning the WCC is a small or routine thing, but compared to a final four or national championship, it is.

xjzico
02-20-2009, 11:50 AM
Well, it's clear why Mark Few is such a successful coach. He has a vision and is methodically working towards its realization.

Reading into his comments, does it sound like he's planning to go anywhere soon? Seems he feels there are things yet to be done.

lothar98zag
02-20-2009, 11:58 AM
“Sure, we aspire to more than a league championship,” Few said, “and we have every year. That doesn’t mean we take it for granted.

“But it’s not national championship or bust. That’s ridiculous. We’re Gonzaga and we’re still working on those kinds of traditions. We want to accomplish as many new things for this program as we can.

“But that doesn’t lessen an old accomplishment like winning the league, either. We should never think we’re too good to celebrate that.”

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

rennis
02-20-2009, 12:17 PM
Share your thoughts, everyone.

My thoughts:

1) If fans of opposing teams didn't rub it in our faces constantly that we've choked a lot in the dance and haven't made much noise recently I don't think we'd, as a group of fans, come off as underwhelmed. I think as a fan base we do carry something of a chip on our shoulders, and it sucks. Now it's like we're spoiled but with nothing to show for it, because anything we do in the WCC is immediately discredited.

2) Fans of opposing teams do not help this, only perpetuate it, and they're not going to stop any time soon.

3) I remember when winning a conference championship was not expected and was cherished. February 1999 in K1 was magical.

Zagsker
02-20-2009, 12:22 PM
Great, great column from Blanchette and spot-on comments by Few and Calipari. I foolishly parsed and read too much into Few's "We're not Duke ..." comment posted in another thread and suggested that Calipari "got it" and Few didn't. Either I wasn't listening or Few didn't add in that clip the "... but we aspire to be" part. For me, that is a joy to hear. Not because I feel GU owes us anything as fans, but because I honestly believe players come to GU these days aspiring for more than league titles. That's not to say they -- and we -- shouldn't stop and really reflect on the amazing run of consistent excellence this program has achieved, but simply that there is something greater to shoot for and there's no shame in saying it. Congrats to the Zags on the 9th straight WCC crown. Relish it and use it as a stepping stone the next few weeks.

Spot on

gamagin
02-20-2009, 12:27 PM
& have for a long time. But that article was what we used to call a thumbsucker.

a filler for when there isn't much to talk about. And after LMU, there isn't much to talk about. Unless noting that in order to guarantee a playoff spot we still must win the WCC tourney. So it's not really over.

Otherwise, I don't think there is a serious poster on this board who hasn't written pretty much what was said in this piece. Either from Few's side or Blanchette's side of this piece.

in the days when there was competetion from the morning and evening paper (forgetting for the moment it was owned by the same family), this kind of piece would have had some meat in there with the horsefeathers.

Like the Bol Kong story BZ dropped on us today.

Now, that is a scoop !

GoZags
02-20-2009, 01:01 PM
*
My thoughts:

1) If fans of opposing teams didn't rub it in our faces constantly that we've choked a lot in the dance and haven't made much noise recently I don't think we'd, as a group of fans, come off as underwhelmed. I think as a fan base we do carry something of a chip on our shoulders, and it sucks. Now it's like we're spoiled but with nothing to show for it, because anything we do in the WCC is immediately discredited.

2) Fans of opposing teams do not help this, only perpetuate it, and they're not going to stop any time soon.

3) I remember when winning a conference championship was not expected and was cherished. February 1999 in K1 was magical.

Sorry, cg(*) -- but I have to go factoid/stats-toid on you here. A total of 22 schools (out of 346) have more NCAA tourney wins than Gonzaga over the past 5 seasons. 22. I wonder how many fans of opposing teams have their teams as part of the 22.

Sure, it's not quite as cool as '99/'00/'01 -- when Gonzaga joined Duke and Michigan State as the only three schools to go back to back to back Sweet 16 (and beyond). Sure, Duke and Michigan State won National Championships during that stretch, and the closest the Zags got was 33 seconds and a possession away against eventual National Champion UConn in the Elite 8 game.

But to say GU has choked, or has a hideous performance is (my opinion) ridiculous -- and many of those fans of opposing teams would LOVE to have GU's record.

Plus, it is my belief that Gonzaga is continuing to rise -- and the best IS yet to come for Gonzaga Basketball. And, I'm enjoying the ride. GoZags

*note to another poster who isn't fond of posts where I include stats.

Reborn
02-20-2009, 01:11 PM
“I don’t think winning our league is something we ever need to get bored with,” he said.

Does he sense the Gonzaga fan has?

“Yeah, and I think our guys feel that – and it’s terribly unfortunate,” he said. “We have high expectations, but we’re not Duke, we’re not Carolina and we’re not Kentucky. We aspire to be, but we’re not yet.

Interesting that "the guys" also seem to get a little bored in the WCC.

The article goes on to say, "But who hasn’t? Didn’t Duke lose a pair last week? Butler, the de facto Gonzaga of the Midwest, dropped two in a row – one to 14-15 Loyola of Illinois – and has struggled mightily twice against Detroit, which will lose 22 or 23 games.

“This seems to be the norm in college basketball,” Few said. “This group or generation of kids can’t seem to maintain concentration for 35 games. Outside of Pitt and maybe UConn, everybody else has had some head-scratchers.”

I really like this quote. It tells us a lot about the modern day college athlete. I've always felt being able to focus is a major key in any sport. And, it seems like today's athlete really has a tough time with that skill. I would never have guessed this to be a problem. But when I thought about it more and more, I can see Few's point. I think the computer and cell phone, an now blackberry phones have really been a major distraction, not only to atheltes but also to all kids..

rennis
02-20-2009, 03:00 PM
*

Sorry, cg(*) -- but I have to go factoid/stats-toid on you here. A total of 22 schools (out of 346) have more NCAA tourney wins than Gonzaga over the past 5 seasons. 22. I wonder how many fans of opposing teams have their teams as part of the 22.

Sure, it's not quite as cool as '99/'00/'01 -- when Gonzaga joined Duke and Michigan State as the only three schools to go back to back to back Sweet 16 (and beyond). Sure, Duke and Michigan State won National Championships during that stretch, and the closest the Zags got was 33 seconds and a possession away against eventual National Champion UConn in the Elite 8 game.

But to say GU has choked, or has a hideous performance is (my opinion) ridiculous -- and many of those fans of opposing teams would LOVE to have GU's record.

Plus, it is my belief that Gonzaga is continuing to rise -- and the best IS yet to come for Gonzaga Basketball. And, I'm enjoying the ride. GoZags

*note to another poster who isn't fond of posts where I include stats.

no doubt the accomplishments of this program are amazing over the last 12+ years. and agreed, most opposing fans would love to have them. They just like to discredit our Zags because of the WCC. Thus our fan base, while proud, has that splinter in the back of their minds "does the conference championship really mean as much" since no one besides us gives it any credence at all?

That's my point. And I believe the shoulder chip is real.

Zag79
02-20-2009, 05:22 PM
Love it. ive said all year that i am going to enjoy game by game, minute to minute. this is another special group of zags. instead of complaining about pargo or josh making a mistake, celebrate how they will both finish as some of the best zags to don a uni. like it or not, (jeremy especially) these guys are big time zags.

NotoriousZ
02-20-2009, 05:43 PM
1. John's been reading the board/ our minds.


Do you think he's a lurker, or does he comment incognito? And if it's the latter, who do you think he could be? You can rule me out due to spelling/grammer/sports knowledge/common sense and several other reasons.

thespywhozaggedme
02-20-2009, 08:44 PM
What no Minnie Driver or Kate Winslett opinions?

TheBunnieRancher
02-20-2009, 09:17 PM
I have been following Gonzaga since Idaho was the regional power under Don Monson and Dan Fitzgerald was the head coach of Gonzaga and Stockton was the point guard. I used to think that Fitzgerald had a fairly successful basketball WCC program here in Spokane. Mark Few is the one who elevated our sites to the national level and elite status. We should never forget that. We never would have had these discussions except for him. Don't think for a minute he has forgot what he wants to do here in Spokane with this small, out-of-the-way school.

theirishzag03
02-20-2009, 09:27 PM
I find it a bit confusing to boast about winning our conference 9 straight years, which puts us in the company of only UNLV, Kentucky, and UCLA I believe. A 10th would move us into a tie for 2nd place all time. Yet on the other hand asking not to be grouped with UNC, Duke, or Kentucky (UCLA)...

Insanity=Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results

I agree with Rennis that fans of other teams do not help much with harnessing our expectations. I do have a chip on my shoulder, and maybe I am just so anxious to be able to say "I told you so" that I forget our Zags are probably equally as anxious!

TheBunnieRancher
02-20-2009, 09:42 PM
After watching this team through the 80's, 90's, and this decade; I would say they are still marching forward and that this year has been as successful as any I've seen based on the number of teams they have blown out and the fact they have only been out of one game this season. They are still not routinely recruiting on the same level as the schools he mentioned. Gonzaga league competition is not the same, although they do bring it especially for Gonzaga when they play host. This is not the ideal place or league to build a regular contender for the final four/NC. This board reminds me of a bunch of kids in a car, "Are we there yet?" Get to know the history of the program a little better. Get to know the history of the league a little better.

doug2
02-21-2009, 08:17 AM
It's kind of sad the fans are at the point where a league championship is no big deal. It seems as if we're expecting all these good achievements as our right instead of appreciating the high-quality performances we've been privileged to witness the past decade

During the Pepperdine game a couple of weeks ago, the announcer mentioned that in the late 80's/early 90's, Pepperdine was the class of the league and Gonzaga was nothing special.

The Zags have never been the elite team in the WWC until the last 10 years. Let's enjoy and appreciate the ride and remember our roots.

GoZags
02-21-2009, 08:27 AM
I've known every score of every game since arriving at Gonzaga as a freshman in the fall of '73. There were times when it wasn't easy (i.e. spent a lot of time overseas and had to get the 5 Star Final when I lived in Chicago-- that's the edition that carried the late night West Coast scores in mousetype).

I don't take anything for granted and I appreciate each win. Every time Gonzaga takes the floor -- another D1 school is trying to win -- and in most cases -- when it's a road game -- it's an atmosphere that's beyond belief.

Each WCC Championship is incredibly worthy of celebrating. Each WCC Championship is a big deal. A very big deal.

About 6 or 7 years ago, over coffee Fewie told the Pontiff and I how things were when he, Munse and Billy arrived. I've told the story before, but I'll tell it again. When Mark Few arrived -- he was pulled aside by the campus elders and told "You'll never finish first -- and that's okay. Just don't finish last. We don't tolerate last place around here."

Dan, Mark and Billy set out to change that paradigm. It is my opinion that the work they've done is beyond comprehension.

I couldn't be prouder of my alma mater -- and not just because of the success of the Men's Basketball program. There is so much good that is done (and isn't covered on this Basketball Board). It's sure great to be a Zag.

El Voce
02-21-2009, 08:45 AM
It's sure great to be a Zag.

I'll drink to that!!!

BobZag
02-21-2009, 09:01 AM
I'll drink to that!!!

Jagermeister!

vandalzag
02-21-2009, 09:35 AM
Jagermeister!

Breakfast of Champions

MDABE80
02-21-2009, 10:22 AM
A few things come to mind as this thread has expanded.

1. The WCC is a weak league this year and has been in the past several years. Winning the title doesn't appear to be "much". Thus when GU wins a title in a lightweight conference, it's a lightweight feat. About this time of the year, we cast our eyes around and lookat the Pac X, SEC, ACC, etc....those conferences are THEE ones and have THEE teams.

We play those teams and beat em as often as not........whereas in older days, they wouldn't even lace em up for a Gonzaga (who???) game. Well they do now and it's not by accident. It's taken 10 years to be noticed and have a record such that those teams would play us. It's not by accident. GU's earned it. And over the past decade, we want more......we want to be an ACC type without a league that might make that happen. Not much to be done about that.

2. Since we're in Pac X territory, we've kind of let BCS fans define us........and we've believed what they've said. "Small school, small program, lucky, one hit wonder....couldn't compete with the BCS league night in and night out, GU would get creamed with competition like "they" play." Some of it is true and some is just stupid. BUT, because some of it is true, it spills over into the fans' confidence.

3. The E 8 and S 16's have generated a thirst for more. No program gets to the S16 this many times (n=4) in a short period of time without having the goods (with some luck) to go the distance. Just doesn't happen friends. The odds of getting that far without being that good and deserving are impossible.

4.This season we're completing began with high expectations because of the talent we have..the best ever. The logic format in our brain makes us believe that if we could do the Swt 16's with less talent, surely the E8 or FF is likely or imminent. And then it actually happened!.......Won the tough ones all in a row..........ranked 4th and positioned to go to no 1. Then came the reality of high end basketball with high end competition.

So, we should run the table in the WCC this year. We should be able to compete with the high end BCS teams. We are and we should. It's the resentment generated from those losses when we KNOW we should have won those games. It's stuck in our throats.It's also stuck in the collective throats of the media........who then say "we were fooled again".

Few calmly explained it in his interview. In a nutshell, what we want and what Few can give us year in and year out doesn't coincide. We've come a long way in a short period of time though. He does the best he can and the kids usually do too. I guess we should be more accepting instead of impatient. We'd feel better. It's a long slog to get to the top....we're half way there. In closing, I would say what Fr Pat Ford used to tell me when I'd come to complain that those "other guys" were making claims about cures......things I couldn't duplicate. He always said "trust yourself and trust your own eyes". He was always right.

gamagin
02-21-2009, 11:08 AM
thanks

bigblahla
02-21-2009, 01:26 PM
Jagermeister!

BZ,

You need to try the Elixer of life 1st timers think they're drinking jager but not the case. 40% Blackberry Brandy, 40% Kahlua and 20% 148 proof Absinthe. Conversion rate to passionate deciples well over 95%.

Go!! Zags!!!