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Fonebone
03-12-2010, 09:03 PM
I just got home a while ago from the annual Zag banquete. It is open to anyone that wants to buy a ticket. There were about 600 people there.

I try to go every year. The thing that I really like about the banquete is that it really humanizes the players and coaches. You get to see them sitting all together, takling and joking about each other, and walking in the crowd and signing autographs, posing for pictues. It was really fun to see Elias, who ususally looks so serious, laughing so hard he was bobbing up and down, grabbing the guys next to him. Steven Grey is really a people person. He was out in the audience a lot. People took dozens of photos of him hugging kids or adults, even one holding a baby like a politician. I went over and watched him for a while, he was just very gentle and gracious and warm. It really creates a warm feeling about the whole program, and made me realize that our board is a part of that in a way, and so I want to share what I can remember.


All the team sits up on the stage at a long table, the coaches are down in the audience at tables. After dinner, Coach few gives a short talk.

Coach Few said that he has never been more proud of a team than he was this year. He said that earlier today, in practice, he told them that. He talked about the difficulty of loosing all the talent that they did from last year, and then have a bunch of new faces arriving at an unknown location and how quickly they were able to gel and work together. He said that he is just so proud of what they accomlished this year.

Each of the coaches introduced one of the three seniors - Matt, Will & P-Mog. So they each give a little talk as part of that. One of them said that Rob was the "heart and soul" of the team, and that it was amazing how much Rob had grown in that capacity. He also kidded Rob about how attracted he was to blonds. He said that if someone put a blond wig on a fire hydrant, Rob would try to date it. There was a lot of that kind of thing - a lot of kidding of the players and coaches. It was great to see all the players up on stage laughing so hard.

I have noticed that each year the coaches tend to make a statment as to who needs to step up next year - as if they want to make a public statement to the team, and those players, in a public setting. They singeled out Rob as part of the talk that I mentioned above. And I think it was coach Few who lavished praise on Steven Grey, as to how much he had grown as a person and player this year, how he was an incredible warrior, who gave everything for the team. They don't really talk much about specific players other than seniors, except, it seems, to recognize the key players coming back. Few did mention Elias also, breifly, when he talked about how quickly the new players contibuted.


Then all the seniors give a short talk. This is always a bit dicy as often they have a hard time speaking in front of a large group, but this year all three of them were good.

Will Foster was very at ease – a stand up comedian type. He complimented Coach Few on being so brave as to stand at the microphone without standing on two phone books like he usually does. After one of the coaches introduced him, Will stepped up to the microphone and raised it up about 4 feet, as he said "to where a real man would place it." He gave a pretty long talk - very articulate and funny. He complimented one of the coaches as being such a good free throw instructor and said that he was an example of the effectivness of that. He seemed very at ease.

Matt Bouldin, started by apologizing because he said his talk was kind of cheesy, said it was the most cheese thing he had every written, but, as his sister said, sometimes to tell the truth you have to be cheesy. Then he read his talk.

I really wish that I had recorded it or had a copy of it to share. It was pretty amazing. It sounded like the kind of thing that some NBA star would write 30 years after he retired retired, with the benefit of perspecitve that only time gives. With that perspective, and being out of the game, being able to see and articulate what a privilage it was to have played the game. Honestly, that was the level of his talk. I am amazed that anyone his age could write it. This will be a really bad recap, but it is kind of a feel for what he said.

He started off by saying that when he walks into the gym he looks at the floor, and thanks the floor for allowing him the honor of being able to play on it, and he will try to always play his best, to be worthy of that privelage, although he often doesn’t play his best. That's a pretty brave thing to say out loud in public, and a very unsual Zen like perspective, and it came accross as absolutely sincere. He said that when he walks into a gym it is the most comfortable place in the world, it is where he can try for his dreams, it is where he loves to be. He said that when he is on the court, he is home. He said "I love Basketball." He mostly talked about the respect that he had for the game of baseketball. It truely was one of the most elequent talks I have ever heard. I have always respected Matt a lot, but this talk showed an amazing depth and awareness that frankly kind of startled me.

I wish I could remember more specifics, but that is pretty much it. Perhaps someone else who was there can fill in some more comments about tonight.

The other thing that I felt tonight was that the evening had to be incredibly healing for the team relative to the recent loss to St. Mary's. For all of them to step back, and look at the program and what they are doing from a larger perspective, from the perspective of departing seniors, and all the love for the players from the audience, the coaches, and among themselves, had to wash away much of the dissapointment of that loss.

GonzagaLove
03-12-2010, 09:18 PM
Thanks Fone. That made my night. God bless Gonzaga.

GL

Radbooks
03-12-2010, 09:22 PM
Thanks for the great recap!!!

ID ZAGFAN
03-12-2010, 10:01 PM
It was our first time at the banquet, and it was so much fun!

I was able to complete the autographs I started on senior night and talk to almost all of the guys--Matt, Will, Rob, Steven, Elias, Bol, P-Maag, David, Sam, Manny, Meech, etc. I also chatted a minute with Mark Few--he was very gracious.

One thing the original poster did not mention was Father Williams did the invocation. (Father Hightower is in Haiti.) He was very funny and entertaining.

I enjoyed having the chance to hear Hudson, who was the emcee. Because we live in North Idaho, we don't get a chance to listen to his broadcasts or radio show. I can see why a lot of the board members like him and his style.

Quite frankly, before the banquet I was thinking--it's a little pricey and a four hour round trip--but if it's fun we'll come back.

We'll be back! :)

ID ZAGFAN

bigblahla
03-13-2010, 03:38 AM
Dang, 4:37 am and I'm sitting here misty eyed like a big ol baby. I understand how much Matt loves this game, I share his passion and know I'm not alone for there are many who come here that hold the game as our first love. I found hoops before girls in spite of what Mrs.blahla says. Thank you.

Go!! Zags!!!

Zagpower
03-13-2010, 03:58 AM
Good recap.

I've been to several in a row now and it is the most underrated Zag event of the season. Always great fun!

I'm not a banquet type person so it took some convincing to go the first time, but it is the best chance to meet the players and coaches in a setting where they don't mind chatting, signing autos, or posing with pictures and their personalities really get a chance to shine.

We brought a size 18 shoe to have the team sign again this year. The players get a kick out it and most think it is one of Will Fosters' shoes.

RenoZag
03-13-2010, 05:56 AM
Thanks for the detailed recap, Fone.

sonuvazag
03-13-2010, 06:41 AM
I was going to make a sig line like, "I don't read posts over 250 words." Of course, there are exceptions.

Great post.

ZaggyStardust
03-13-2010, 07:59 AM
I LOVE to go every year too cuz not only do I get to hang with all the players, but I get to sit by Zagpower and that is fun beyond words!

Seriously, it is the most underrated Zag event. I got a little misty eyed as Matty was giving his heartfelt speech. The guys (most anyway) are so gracious to hang around as long as people are still there, signing and posing. Coach Few was so nice - I gushed "please don't ever leave - we love you here" and he just shook my hand and said he really appreciates the support he gets here. Anyway, as usual it was a fantastic event.

rawkmandale
03-13-2010, 08:51 AM
Thanks Fonebone. I'll try to a few more items to your excellent report.

Father Williams went on for quite a while, obviously trashing the "keep it to 4 minutes" instruction he had been given. I think he must be a punk rawker at heart. Few pointed out that Williams had played on the GU basketball team (a LONG time ago) and had done double duty as a boxer! He wanted to be certain that Rob Sacre "heard that." There was a very sincere standing ovation for Few when he came up - biggest of the night. Few complimented quite a few people, with very nice comments about Chuck Murphy, the long-time CFO. He also asked "the other senior" team manager Shaun (sp?) Evans to stand and be recognized.

Tommy Lloyd was the one who spotlighted Steven Gray's growth as a player (has always been a strong person) - calling his improvement "incredible." He then had some funny stories, including the initial recruitment of Rob Sacre, who was only about 15 at the time, and Sacre was "very nervous and peeing down his leg." Lloyd then made Shaun (?) Evans come up from the floor and make a short presentation (Lloyd told him to try and give a combination job interview and date request). Apparently Evans is from Tucson, and was recommended to the staff by Lute Olson. Lloyd also talked about PMaag, describing how he had been turned down twice as a walk on, and may have continued to be, but a professor told the staff that PMaag displays the ultimate in perseverance and work ethic, including hiring his own personal trainer in an effor to get better. The staff decided the team needed someone like that around as an example. He also told an amazing story of PMaag dislocating his knee in practice (Lloyd says "the worst BB injury I've seen") and being carried off in a stretcher. PMaag was back to practice in 2 weeks.

Coach Ray said that when the staff decided which senior they would introduce that he wanted Foster. He said the big guys' growth on the defensive end of the floor has been a very important factor for the team. In his presentation, Foster said that Rien (sp?) Oliver has "made our freshman look like geniuses" and said that (I think I'm getting the right player here) Manny owes "his whole GPA" to Oliver. He also said that he has had many of the players as roommates - good guys, but "Olynyk snores too loud."

Coach Rice made his normal jokes about the players, including how inbred the folks are in Buckley (where Foster is from), and the very funny line that Fonebone quoted about Rob and the blonde wig on a fire hydrant (talked to Rob late in the evening - he plans to get Rice in a big way on his "senior banquet"). Rob says "there is a lot of material to chose from."

Rice was more serious when introducing Bouldin - a few minor hair jokes, etc and said that "Matt will make Taylor Swift a great husband." He said that Matt got better every year, is a great friend, is a strong family guy, and always did the right things in his years at Gonzaga. In his presentation (Fonebone captured that well) Matt said that he wanted to give thanks to God and family first and then to the coaches. Yes, he was eloquent.

I talked to quite a few of the players and coaches afterward. Missed only Harris, Kong, Hart, and Arop - I think some slipped out pretty early. The "crowd love" can be a little intense, except for those who just love it, like Sacre, Gray, Bouldin, PMagg. Foster had one of the largest lines waiting to get autographs/pictures, along with Gray, Sacre, and Bouldin - all VERY popular.

Gibbs and Dower stood together - kind of like a mutual protection pack. They seemed a little overwhelmed. Sacre acts like a movie star, and is very affable. Gray has that great smile and a ton of patience. Bouldin was also very patient with the many admirers. Foster stood against the backdrop and let the horde of admirers come to him. Olynyk wandered through the crowd - seems at ease.

Coach Ray told me that Dower is going to be a monster next year - his body is maturing, and he's working hard on the weights. He also said Stockton will likely surprise. Great news!

I learned that Steven Gray is planning to go to Africa with a Gonzaga mission for a month in early summer. The coaches are "slightly nervous" (according to a non-coach) but supportive. Obviously, Gray will be the only senior next year, and will be a crucial element. Gray told me he is a little nervous about being the only senior at the banquet next year, so all the jokes will be headed his direction. We talked about trying to persuade the staff to add a couple of senior walk ons.

All in all - a great night. The rest of you should try it!

Fonebone
03-13-2010, 09:20 AM
Rawkmandale - very good detailed recap. Thank you.

CB4 - "Crush" ? It was just interesting watching Steven interacting with people. I admire people who are multi dimensional, so I admire an elite athelete who is so good with people. There is something different about him. Not many people, male or female, that I would describe as "gentle, gracious and warm," especially elite atheletes, and yet that fits him to a T, at least in terms of what I saw last night. That is really what I like most about the banquete - the chance to observe the players in a setting like that, where one can see a bit into their personalities.

Thomas_Sutpen
03-13-2010, 09:40 AM
I learned that Steven Gray is planning to go to Africa with a Gonzaga mission for a month in early summer. The coaches are "slightly nervous" (according to a non-coach) but supportive.

Very cool. I know some folks on this board also get "slightly nervous" about Gray's off-court activities, but I love that he is a well-rounded young man with diverse interests. I think his improvement has more to do with on-court demeanor than off-court workouts, so I think his trip to Africa will not negatively impact his development for senior year. In fact, it may help him develop his leadership capabilities, which will be greatly needed next year.

Thanks to all for the recaps.

HillBillyZag
03-13-2010, 10:12 AM
For my money this is one of the best threads posted this season. Its great to see young men of this calibre and IMHO this is what Gonzaga is all about.

americasteam
03-13-2010, 10:41 AM
+1 HillBillyZag

Loved reading this. Reminds everybody these are real people, young adults. Not just numbers on the court.

Go Zags!

U Zig, I Zag
03-13-2010, 10:54 AM
Thanks for all the detailed info, guys. A great bunch of kids. I got a little misty reading Fonebone's recollection of Matt's speech.

I think Steven's mission is the perfect thing to do. Steven seems to know that, while its not all on him, he needs to be the leader. I hope he learns to become a leader of men on his journey. The moment the score-clock goes 00:00 on GU's last game this year it's Steven's team. I am excited for it.

Great post Fonebone.

IdahoZagFan
03-13-2010, 01:09 PM
We were there and we second everything said above. It's a great value. All of the players were terrific! Matt's speech was the best we've heard (David Pendergraft is second), but every one is good (just different to reflect their personalities).

One of the coaches allowed as to how the team is going to be GOOD next year! And they will have some great recruits in the future.

THANK YOU SENIORS (AND THE WHOLE TEAM AND COACHES).

CB4
03-13-2010, 04:31 PM
I was just poking some fun at how you described him. Looks like it was deleted anyways. Nice recap, though.

Fonebone
03-13-2010, 05:30 PM
I assumed that you were just kidding. Kind of funny actually.

alldaye
03-13-2010, 06:06 PM
Dower is gonna be a beast, and I'm glad to hear he's improving and his body is maturing. I predict he averages at least 16 and 8 by his senior year

GonzagasaurusFlex
03-13-2010, 07:32 PM
The other thing that I felt tonight was that the evening had to be incredibly healing for the team relative to the recent loss to St. Mary's. For all of them to step back, and look at the program and what they are doing from a larger perspective, from the perspective of departing seniors, and all the love for the players from the audience, the coaches, and among themselves, had to wash away much of the dissapointment of that loss.

Your recap and this entire thread are incredibly healing to this board relative to the recent angst herein

Thanks Fonebone

DANCE DANCE DANCE

Horned Frog
03-13-2010, 08:55 PM
Dower is gonna be a beast, and I'm glad to hear he's improving and his body is maturing. I predict he averages at least 16 and 8 by his senior year

Being a stronger and wiser "frosh" next year, I think Sam will have a freshman year as good as Austin Daye's sophomore year.

Zagineer
03-13-2010, 09:18 PM
Fonebone,

You got to post more often. You need to share your talents with all of us Zag Fans. :clap:

Wish I could have been there. Maybe next year. :)

Thanks to all that posted their experience at this year's event.

Zaglaw
03-14-2010, 11:07 AM
I was there for the 1st time. I had a great time & will definitely go again. Loved the Senior Video. I wonder if it is available anywhere.

gamagin
03-14-2010, 12:34 PM
Fonebone,

You got to post more often. You need to share your talents with all of us Zag Fans. :clap:

Wish I could have been there. Maybe next year. :)

Thanks to all that posted their experience at this year's event.


Thanks Fone et al.

vandalzag
03-14-2010, 02:08 PM
Being a stronger and wiser "frosh" next year, I think Sam will have a freshman year as good as Austin Daye's sophomore year.

On what would you base this?

Birddog
03-14-2010, 04:37 PM
On what would you base this?

I'll take a stab at that one. Internet KoolAid?