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Zagquette
11-09-2009, 06:38 PM
When trying to compare this upcoming season to previous seasons, I continue to go back to 2000-2001 season. I realize the style of play will be different, but in 2000, Gonzaga had lost all but one of the key players from their previous two magical seasons and the future of the program was resting on the shoulders of senior Casey Calvary.

From the opening game press release: “The Bulldogs, who graduated five seniors, including four starters, off last year's NCAA Sweet 16 team, had freshman Blake Stepp, JC transfer Alex Hernandez and Dickau joining senior veterans Calvary and Mark Spink in the starting lineup. Plus, Few came off the bench with redshirt freshman Kyle Bankhead, JC transfer Anthony Reason and true freshman Cory Violette who had never played a Division I game.”

This group of promising transfers and freshman were arguably the best group/class of new faces to the program.

The team took its lumps early, especially with Dickau sidelined with injuries.

Early Season Loss to No. 5 Arizona: “The Bulldogs, considered by many to be huge underdogs coming into the contest because of their youth and inexperience, gave a gutsy performance that saw the Bulldogs lead by as many as 5 points in the second half after trailing by 9 at halftime. “
Few, who at one stretch in the game had four players on the court who weren't even in the program a year ago including a pair of true freshman, was nonetheless pleased with the effort of the Bulldogs.

"We learned their character is farther along then even I thought it was," Few said of the battle. "We staved off some rallies. We won't go into another venue like this. I thought we dealt with some adversity and tried to power through it."

Ugly Loss at Boise State: “Boise State University handed the Gonzaga University's men's basketball team its worst defeat since 1991 Saturday as the Broncos thwarted the Bulldogs 94-69 in front of a 8,879 fans at the BSU Pavilion.”

Going into the New Year the Zags were 6-4. They had played tough, looked out of sorts at times, and Few continuously juggled the lineup. But after an overtime loss and a broken backboard in the Spokane Arena, everything clicked.

With Dickau back and the starting lineup solidified, they went on a tear. They won 14 games in a row, missing an undefeated WCC season by one and earned their third straight NCAA tournament appearance by winning the WCC tournament.

I love this quote from Few before their upset of 5-seed Virginia: "There's been a lot of high expectation within our program the last two years," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "This year has been kind of a footloose and fancy free group. I don't think they necessarily have the burden and expectations on them. They feel they can play and win some games in this tournament and so do I. But if you don't come and play well, it's one and done."

As we know, they eventually lost to Mich St., but not after accomplishing more than anyone expected.

This is a team that started out as the senior Calvary and a bunch of ?s. At the end of the season, a star was born in Dickau, Zags had another (historic) run through the NCAAs, and the future looked as bright as ever for the Zags.

I hope the same will be said at the end of this season……………..

Reborn
11-09-2009, 06:47 PM
Great post Zagquette. I hope so too. Woudn't that just be great? Oh Ya. I wanted to tell you. Cool name. It could be mine as well as I went to Marquette High an GU.

Kiddwell
11-09-2009, 07:35 PM
Nice post. Exciting times, then and now.

:]

MickMick
11-09-2009, 07:54 PM
Nice post and I agree.

But a lot of people aren't buying it. The low expectation thing.

For example:

Check out item #37 (http://www.aarontorres-sports.com/50-reasons-to-be-excited-for-college-basketball-season-2)

NotoriousZ
11-09-2009, 08:54 PM
JohnnyGonzaga: "Much more talent and energy then last year. Now you know what I think if you care at all."

I care, Johnny, and I tend to agree. But I don't see the correlation between this year and 2000, Zagquette. There were a ton of question marks going into that season, and I've got to think the pressure was much greater for them. If they blow it in the WCC tourney, the Zags may go back to obscurity/mediocrity.

The new guys for this year we can already see are something special (and the recruiting pool now compared to then is like apples and oranges). Plus, IF we lose too many games before the WCC tourney and IF we happen to lose in said tourney and not make the NCAA's, the team is still more than fine for next year. But I'm with Mal this year, we're legit.