View Full Version : Memories of Gonzaga vs WSU...

11-30-2009, 06:16 PM
Is this still a rivalry to you? This game seems to have lost some of it's lustre over the years. I graduated from Gonzaga in 1970, and back then it was a true rivalry...the most important game of the year. The cougs, during those years 1966-70 were one of the best teams in America and had it not been for UCLA having Lew Alcindor (Kareem) they may have been the best team. They had Jim McKean, 6'11 center, Ted Wierman, 6'11 power forward (from Yakima), Lenny Wilkens 5'9 guard (from Yakima), Ray Stein, 6-0'' guard (from Richland), and I don't recall the small forward. In '66 the Zags had a great team. I believe they finished in the top 20 in the polls. That was GREAT FOR BACK in those days. The Zags had Leichman, 6'6" center, Brown, 6'4" power forward, Billy Suter, 5'8 point guard, and Paz Roacha, 5'9 guard. I've forgotten some of the others. I know John Daugherty played off the bench. I remember when the Zags beat WSU that year. Kennedy was packed to the brim. The student body had brought wooden blocks into the gym for their cheers. Instead of clapping hands the students would clap those wooden blocks together, and they made the coolest, loudest sound I had ever heard. It meant so much to Gonzaga to be able to beat the Cougs.

It's 43 years later, and this wonderful game goes on each year. The Cougs' program has been rebuilt, and Gonzaga's is now a nationl powerhouse every year (the Cougs were right there too with the Bennetts). This has made the rivalry so much better now. This game, most always, establishes basketball dominance in Eastern Washington, and now, perhaps, dominance of basketball in the state of Washington. For all of basketball fans living in Eastrn Washington, and for those of us who have lived in Eastern Washington most of our lives, this is such a special game. I think that with the success Klay Thompson and the Cougs had in the Alaskan Shotout, that this game Wednesday now has some excitement to it. We all want to see if the Zags can beat down Thompson and Castro and Moore, who are two Washington players, Casto from Spokane Moore from Seattle. Casto vs Harris, Moore vs Meech, and Thompson vs Gray and Bouldin....Yes. I'm excited about this one too.

I"d love to hear what this game meas to you, and if you have some great memories of a Zag-Couger game.

11-30-2009, 06:36 PM
Back in the Suter and Liechman era (actually 1967), we had one game at GU where some GU seniors took the WSU Cougar. They were going to present it to them at the game, but they were stopped outside and told if they did they would not graduate.
They drove all the way down to Pullman, cut open his cage (they had another cage in the back of their truck), had some meat in the cage, and Butch came right in. They brought him back to Spokane and had him ready for the game. Then the Jesuits stepped in. It was fun for awhile.

11-30-2009, 06:54 PM
Back in the Suter and Liechman era (actually 1967), we had one game at GU where some GU seniors took the WSU Cougar

You got some of it right. The year was 1965 and it was the first game in the Kennedy Pavilion.. A sometimes poster on this board, "Upan8th", knows the details quite well. I'm not sure how he came to know so much of the caper, well, yeah I do, but I'll let him tell you.

I was in Pullman the day they discovered Butch was missing and a member of our group seemed to know a great deal about it too as he took us over to Butch's old cage and showed us how the bars had been cut.

I'm pretty sure they had Butch on display in his temporary cage on the lower level entrance to Kennedy that night before the tip off.

The Cougs beat us in our season and Kennedy's opener, quite handily too, but we got even with them in Bohler in what was one of my all time favorite games.
Cougs were good back then, 2nd only to UCLA in the Pac 8 IIRC.

11-30-2009, 07:05 PM
Other players on that Zag team 66 John Brodsky, Chuck Thomas,Mike MCCHESNEY. Those Sutter passes to Leach were things of beauty.Brodsky could shoot lights out. We had no real size.Even Leach was at best 6ft 5".A true refuse to lose bunch.

11-30-2009, 07:17 PM
Ray Stein, 6-0'' guard (from Richland),

I'll have to tell Ray that he earned a mention on the Gonzaga Board when I see him Sunday.


11-30-2009, 07:18 PM
was against WSU in Pullman in 2007. ? maybe 2006 We lost, but I had a wonderful time cheering for the Zags. And I managed to irritate some Coug fans, who every time I cheered loud, they would try to be louder (it didn't work). :D My husband explained to the Zag fans in front of us that I shout just as loud at home in front of the TV.

It was great, in spite of the loss.


11-30-2009, 07:31 PM
I remember watching Ray Stein play for Richland in the old Coliseum. Must have been a 4-A regional (or whatever back then). Stein was very fast. I still remember one play where Stein and another Richland guard sprinted down the court on a fast break - never dribbled the ball - they were about six feet apart coming down the court and just passed the ball back and forth - easy layin. Never seen anything like it since.

11-30-2009, 08:10 PM
Just for the record.
In 65/66 the Gonzaga team members were John Brodsky (Sr), Larry Brown, John Dougherty, Darryl Gellert, Dennis Jorgensen, Gary Lechman, Mike McChesney(Sr), Jed Steele, Bill Suter(Sr), Chuck Thomas, Jon Evavold, Dan Hunt, Ron Muskopf, and John Smith.

IIRC, the starters were Brodsky, Suter, Lechman, Brown and Thomas. McChesney, Dougherty and Steele were the mainstays on the bench with Steele being the designated gunner equal to today's 3 ball shooter. They won 19 and lost 7, I think 3 of the losses were when Lechman was injured and didn't play. We were co champs of the Big Sky with Weber St.

The game we beat WSU was in Pullman. The Spokane Club arranged for 2 or 3 charter buses of students to go to Pullman at a very reasonable price that included refreshments served from a silver barrel placed in back of the bus. All students were given a pair of small wooden blocks (probably courtesy of White Pine Sash and Door) upon exiting the bus. We had to sit under the basket at one end of old Bohler on concrete steps that served as bleachers. We were loud as hell.
Another member of the WSU team was (Big Bad) Bud Norris who also played football for the Cougs. McKean was a good center, 2nd only to Alcindor in the Pac 8.

Paz Rocha came in 66/67. I think the starters were Rocha, Lechman, Dougherty, Thomas and Brown. Steele was again one of the first off the bench as was McGinley. We were 21 and 6 that season against a slightly weaker (IMO) schedule. We were co champs with Weber again. I believe it was GU's first ever 20 win season (tainted). We played Wazzu twice and lost both in close contests.

Angelo Roncalli
11-30-2009, 08:42 PM
I started at GU in 1974. We didn't beat the Cougars during my four years, but there were some memorable close calls such as the OT loss in '76 at the Coliseum (the Cougs had a very raw center named James Donaldson). Losing to the Cougs continued until 1987 when we beat them in Pullman and 1989 when we beat them by a single point in the first game of the year in the Alpo Classic tournament in the Colisuem. After that loss, Kelvin Sampson declared that the Cougs would no longer play the Zags. The series did not resume until 1997 (a loss) when Kevin Eastman was coach at WSU.

11-30-2009, 09:15 PM
Birddog, I am pretty sure that it was the winter (December) 1966. I was a senior and was asked to go but I had finals the next day. I do know about 3 or 4 of the guys that did take it. And yes they did have it on display outside the new gym.

Also you are right, John Brodsky could really shoot from long distance. They were short and fun to watch.

12-01-2009, 09:45 AM

Did you start at GU or did you come off the bench?

12-01-2009, 10:04 AM
I like this memory...


12-01-2009, 10:48 AM

Thanks for the memories. Those 65/66 and 66/67 teams were really good, and it was a significant step in the growth of Gonzaga basketball because those were the first years in the (then) Kennedy (paid in part by a student-approved increase in student activity fees).

12-01-2009, 11:23 AM
I'm quite sure the Cougar Caper occurred in 1965, probably early November just around the time of Mid-Term exams, not finals (which would have placed them later) and I'm quite sure it was the day of the 1st BB game in Kennedy Pavilion.

I've tried to research it, but the closest thing I can find so far is this article from a Coug site. Scroll about half way down. I'm basing my certainty on the fact that Stein says they beat us 106 to 78 which happens to be the score of the first game of the 65/66 season which I can verify.

One of those times was in Stein's very first game as a Cougar ? a 106-78 victory over Gonzaga that was also reminiscent for an innocent-minded event which cannot physically occur now and even if it could, might fall victim to an overly-litigated society ? the good, old-fashioned college prank. In this case, the prank was that well-recognized favorite ? stealing the opposing team's mascot ? and the pranksters were from Gonzaga, who succeeded in absconding with Butch shortly before the game. To clarify, that was no guy in a costume like the Butch of today ? this was a real, live all felis concolor of a Butch ? that the pranksters hauled off.

"They kidnapped Butch, which was not an easy feat, I'd like to know how they pulled that off ? and then at halftime, they returned him. But we got back at them by winning the game," says Stein.


By the way, the other guard for Wazzu was Lenny Allen not Lenny Wilkins, I knew that didn't sound right.

Angelo Roncalli
12-01-2009, 11:54 AM
The 106-78 Cougar win occurred on 12/3/65 at Kennedy Pavilion. The loss was avenged later in the season when the Zags defeated the scruffy Cougs 97-82 in Bohler Gym.

12-02-2009, 01:41 PM

Did you start at GU or did you come off the bench?

I have memories of WSU game from the bench, from coming off the bench and some while starting. I guess you could say both, 23dpg. I'm older now and certainly my precise and exact memory of it all is not great. Years have melted into years, and players on one team have merged with players from others. I enrolled at GU the fall of '66. So, I never got to see Billy Suter play at GU. I don't Roacha ever played with Suter. I think Roacha came to Gonzaga as a Juco transfer his junior year. I got to play with him my Sophomore year, and he was a lot of fun. Suter was at GU my freshman year helping Coach Anderson out. Lechman and Brown was there too. Suter, more than anyone taught me how to play the college game. He was "skilled" in many ways. :D