View Full Version : Gonzaga - special niche in the lexicon?

07-19-2007, 08:41 PM

I guess we're now one of the "powers".

This comment started a recent thread about Rotnei Clark, referring to Gonzaga's grouping with some pretty heady company.

No doubt about it - Gonzaga is now one of the "powers." Itís been fun to watch the evolution from American's darling underdog to perennial power, for sure. I've seen some funny references to describe Gonzaga, both in press stories and on message boards. The most interesting adjectives I've been noting lately are:

"Sexy," as described by SIU AD in bemoaning their scheduling challenges in an Andy Katz story (http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?columnist=katz_andy&id=2848890):

"We've got more living alumni than Kentucky and Alabama, and we show up wherever we go," SIU athletic director Mario Moccia said. "But maybe we're not as romantic a name. We're not as sexy as Gonzaga. We [pick up] our lunch pails [and play a defensive-oriented style]. We're not as exciting. Maybe we're not as appealing to the masses."

"Trendy": This post from the the Iowa State CycloneFanatic MB (http://www.cyclonefanatic.com/forum/mens-basketball/9806-gibbs-close-decision-4.html#post148466) one made me chuckle.

If he really likes a trendy team like Gonzaga, then hes going to a trendy school like Wisky or Gonazaga. I think "he gone".

Who knew? The little school in Eastern Washington "Trendy?"

Who's the next "Gonzaga of the ...?"

Every once in a while, I run the old Google to see who's claiming to be on their way to becoming "the Gonzaga of the ...." Fill in the blanks - Big South, Midwest, Northeast, etc., etc. If you want to kill some time and have some fun during the off-season, check out this Google search for "The Gonzaga of the (http://www.google.com/search?q=%22The+Gonzaga+of+the+%22+-West-Coast-Conference+-Mantua&hl=en&start=20&sa=N)". Among the hits describing an up-and-comer as the next big thing (i.e., Gonzaga) are the following:

The US World Cup Soccer team (http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=dw-worldcup120905&prov=yhoo&type=lgns):

We are the Gonzaga of the World Cup, the nasty mid-major no one wants to face. The question is when do we become Duke?

Poland as the Gonzaga of the World Cup. (http://nomas-nyc.com/2006/06/in-search-of-american-soccer.html)

Utah Jazz as the Gonzaga of the NBA (http://www.abctickets.com/sports/basketball/nba/utah-jazz.html): The article is arcane and unimportant, but I loved the description:

The Jazz are like the Gonzaga of the NBA. They may not have the best talent, but their ability to do what Coach Sloan asks is unparalleled in the league.

The Rams as "the Gonzaga of the NFL," with the description, "Sweet story, but no one expected it to last." ;)

Film Director Roberto Benigni, THE Gonzaga OF THE Academy Awards. Off-line now, but that one was from 1999, and it cracked me up!

Butler as the Gonzaga of the Midwest: There was one article MidMajority article that's no longer easily accessed online but which had a neat partial description of what it means to be a "Gonzaga" :

n many ways, Butler is the Gonzaga of the Midwest because they are graced with the kind of student-athletes who are willing to be molded. These players don't show up on campus and act like they've already arrived as players. They crave coaching. They want to improve. And, more than anything, they want to continue the Butler tradition, which consists of producing teams that are far greater than the sum of their parts.

That's a pretty nice description of what it means to be Gonzaga-like.

George Mason as Gonzaga of the East: (http://www.newsobserver.com/122/story/423705.html): I thought this story included many elements of what it means to become Gonzaga-like:

George Mason: Gonzaga of the East?
Nicholas K. Geranios, The Associated Press

George Mason's run to the Final Four could have benefits that last far beyond this weekend.

If the experience of former upstart Gonzaga is any sign, the Virginia college could cash in its Cinderella slipper for some serious bling.

After eight straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga has seen everything from tickets to T-shirts soar in popularity. Enrollment and donations are up. The school built a posh new basketball arena. Sales of licensed products like clothes and souvenirs have soared 1,200 percent since 1999, when the Bulldogs reached the regional final.

But it takes more than one great run in the tournament, Gonzaga coach Mark Few warns.

"I didn't notice a difference in our recruiting and scheduling until we did it, like, three straight times," Few said recently. "Then finally I saw us breaking into some areas where we had never been before."
This year, the Patriots averaged 4,500 fans in the 9,500-seat Patriot Center. Meanwhile, Gonzaga has sold out the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center for the next three years at least.

Patriots' coach Jim Larranaga looks at the sustained success of the Zags as a model for his program.

"This exposure is tremendous," Larranaga said. "And we'll feel the effects in the immediate future, and I think far greater if we can continue to make the NCAA Tournament -- and have kids believe that we're the Gonzaga of the East."

One payoff will be immediate for the Patriots. Every round a team survives in the NCAA Tournament is worth about $1 million, the money usually shared between the school and its league.

There have been many small conference teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament, and then faded back to obscurity.

Gonzaga is somewhat unusual in maintaining a high level for nearly a decade. It has become a fixture in the Top 25, is able to lure teams like Stanford and Virginia to Spokane, and has had all of its games televised for several years. In February, Dick Vitale and the crew of ESPN Game Day broadcast from its campus. They recruit nationally.

Yet it was less than a decade ago that Gonzaga was playing in a 3,000-seat gym before sparse crowds, against opponents like St. Martin's and Central Washington. Games were never on television.

What's so fascinating to me is that the very word "Gonzaga" has become a sort of shortcut description of surprising success. It started in sports vernacular, but then it moved beyond sports to apply to anyone or group who succeeds against the odds - the folk hero who becomes a star by relying on grit and determination.

Iím waiting to see the word appear as a separate entry in a major dictionary, not referring to the institution, or the person, or the place, but referring to the concept, the dream, the ďsleeperĒ who comes out of nowhere to triumph and sustain success over time.

07-19-2007, 09:04 PM
Great post, ZN!

07-19-2007, 09:09 PM
My vote = off to the hall of fame you go.

07-19-2007, 09:22 PM
Incredible post, Native. I'd rep you if I could...


07-19-2007, 09:41 PM
A couple years back, the Zags played Tulsa in a bracketbuster game. I remember reading a quote from their head coach saying "They are where we want to be."

That is it in a nutshell. They want to be "The Gonzaga of the......."

The mantra of the underdog. I suspect it will take on a larger life of it's own if the Zags go on to larger accomplishments.

On a further note, this is the type of Lore that will launch Coach Few into "Legendary" status.

Very nice post Native...you deserve several shots of rep.

07-19-2007, 11:23 PM
Personally, I think that Mark Few is in possession of the Holy Grail....
The SPIRIT of the HOLY GRAIL is right now bringing in the Nights of the Round Table year by year. And when the chemistry is just right, we will be crowned National Champs. And you can almost feel it in the air!!!!
I don't know, Reborn. I'm looking for more of this guy

Mr. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

And not so much of this guy


Somehow I can imagine the kennel rockin' out to "Do you think I'm sexy?" Not so much "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood."

So, anybody? Do they ever play "Do ya think I'm sexy" in K2? If not, why not? Too much?

07-20-2007, 10:56 AM
Hall of Fame!

Start me up!

07-20-2007, 11:25 AM
excellent !

Gonzaga is right there, now, with Fed Ex, Coke & Kinko's etc., as a brand.

perhaps a generic, like kleenex or xerox, too, according to some of those uses of the name.

Brilliant !

07-20-2007, 11:27 AM
Awesome post ZN ... shows how Gonzaga has become a household name nationwide. :D

I'm just waiting for it to become a colloquial verb - "they gonzaga'd that game" or some such thing. Then, someone will be proposing that gonzaga be placed in the Webster's dictionary like they did with "google"...:lmao:

07-20-2007, 11:30 AM
That's why we're AMERICA'S TEAM!!! Oh yeah!!!:D

07-20-2007, 11:41 AM
Great post, ZN...I feel sexier just for being an alum! And trendy, too.

I too wear Zag apparel every day, and people respond with interest and appreciation.

07-20-2007, 12:56 PM
Thanks for all the nice comments. It was a story that has intrigued me for a while now, and I kept waiting for an Andy Katz or Mike DeCourcey or Seth Davis to notice and comment on the phenomenon of the one-word shortcut for unexpected sustained excellence. When they didn't do it, I decided to take advantage of the off-season and do it myself.

Happy to hear all this "Sexy" and "Trendy" stuff is rubbing off on some of us. However, I was amused to note three gray boxes in my rep points, indicating positive rep offset by negative rep. Too funny! No comments given, so I don't know what ticked some off. Perhaps some self-loathing Zags out there don't like the unrestrained Gonzaga love - or perhaps the length of the post was off-putting to some who apparently manage to have a life in the off-season and would rather not be dallying overlong on sone long-winded post.

Oh, well. The important thing was I had fun posting it!

07-20-2007, 04:07 PM
I can't believe you would get negative rep for this Native. Further, negative rep on Foo is almost unheard of (except for Uber), yet people are getting the "greys" there as well. I am inclined to believe that the software has a bug.

Certainly no one would neg rep you for this fine post!!

07-20-2007, 05:09 PM
I think when people have low post counts, their pos rep shows up as grey.

ZN, it's Friday - don't sweat it.


07-20-2007, 10:22 PM
Great thread - one of the best of the year. As I read through it, and being somewhat involved with Gonzaga (as a community outsider) over the past 10 years, I wonder to what degree the principled leadership of Father Robert Spitzer contibutes to this phenomenon - significantly, I suspect.

09-25-2007, 01:09 PM
I'm reopening this thread to add Jay Bilas' great description of Gonzaga's special niche in his September 25, 2007 column (http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=bilas_jay):

The Next Gonzaga

Whenever a school from a non-BCS conference has success, I am always asked whether that school can be the "next Gonzaga". Last season, I was asked that question about George Mason. Earlier this week, I was asked that question about Davidson. A bunch of coaches on the mid-major level have gotten fired over that question, and the fact is because it is a silly one. The question is the same as asking whether a player could be the "next Jordan". Gonzaga has done something that is almost impossible to duplicate elsewhere, for which there is no blueprint. The Zags have a good tradition, great continuity in coaches and mind-blowing support. Gonzaga was doing it their way and the right way -- and well before any of us caught on -- when Dan Monson and the Zags made their run to the Elite Eight in 1999. In less than 10 years, what Gonzaga has accomplished in Spokane has been nothing short of incredible, with conference titles, NCAA appearances, and a reputation that requires a "storming of the court" if you beat them.

But, it is folly to suggest that we should expect that sort of success from other programs in similar conferences. What Gonzaga has done with its limited size and resources has never really been done before, and may never be done again. When Gonzaga burst onto the scene and stayed there, which school did we compare it to? Gonzaga was the next & who? The answer is nobody, because no team from the mid-major level had ever done it in the modern game. The program that has come the closest to Gonzaga's success over the past decade has been Southern Illinois. The Salukis have been consistent winners in the Missouri Valley Conference, have had great support and a great consistency of coaches. I cannot wait to get to Carbondale this season to see the Salukis, or the "closest thing to Gonzaga".