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McZag
02-28-2014, 11:20 AM
Where were you 20 years ago?

It's hard to believe that twenty years ago, the Kennel rafters were essentially empty. If memory serves - and please forgive my fuzzy post Jack and Dan's Tavern, Henry Weinhard's and "The Chef" era mental blurriness - the old Kennel had exactly nothing, nada, zilch - to celebrate. The lights came on, the heat came on. That's it. Not much else to jump up and down about.

20 years ago, Gonzaga basketball was small. Small in resources, small in talent, small in community support, small in expectations, small in every way but one - Gonzaga was huge in heart. I graduated from Gonzaga in May of 1994. I spent the last six months of my Gonzaga career witnessing history and watching the birth of the most unlikely rise to success in Div. 1 college sports history.

What do you do when your program begins to win for the first time? You literally savor every bucket, every rebound, every half time lead, every made free throw. Every moment is another first. When the team is on the road, you sit in your living room and demand silence from your buddies so not to miss a single AM radio call from a thousand miles away. You write down the foul count of each player in an effort to predict last minute strategies. You learn to tune out the fan reactions you hear first over the air in order to get the story details from famed radio announcer Dick Wright. You lose your voice at every home game and drink up every victory into the wee morning hours afterwards. And finally, you clip every newspaper article recapping every win and you tape them to your wall in a massive living breathing collage of victory.

At least I did. That's me on the right in this photo. Graduation day, 1994 with a pal of mine, in my living room on Nora Ave. Behind us you can see the collage illustrating every win of the 1993-94 season plus the loss to K-State in the NIT. At that time, you could not buy a GU t-shirt at any store in downtown Spokane. You could find WSU gear everywhere but Gonzaga? None. There was no legacy of success. There was no winning tradition. And there was no reason to believe that our single championship season would last.

This March, here are just a few things to consider:

1. Nobody outside of Spokane ever wanted Gonzaga to win anything.
The WCC was founded by and run by CA. Bay Area elitists who had no intention of turning over the reigns of their prized possession to the red haired Catholics of the north in 1979. There was no secret plot to bring Gonzaga into the league and to eventually hand them the keys in order to bring national prestige. Quite the opposite. Gonzaga was brought in to give the founding member schools boosters one more chance to see a win at home every year. For 15 years, Gonzaga lost most of their WCC road games. For 15 years they lost virtually all their road games at Santa Clara and Pepperdine. The Zags were the laughing stock of the WCC and the CA. schools were very comfortable with that. There would be no tears shed if not a single championship banner ever adorned the rafters of the Kennel. Why should it? The league had done very well since the early 1950's without any help from the northwest. Surely they wouldn't need any now that "Gonzawga" had joined the ranks. And so it was. By the end of the 1980's LMU was making history and Gonzaga was light years from moving out of the basement of the standings.

2. Nobody outside our fan base ever wants Gonzaga to win anything again.
The media, the "experts", the other WCC programs, the NCAA - none of them would ever care if Gonzaga never won another game. They liked our story in 1999. They liked our potential in 2006 and 2013. And now they are done with us. "Please Gonzaga, go back to obscurity". The WCC really doesn't want another banner hung in The Kennel. Enough is enough.

3. Winning the WCC is the most important thing to the Gonzaga Basketball Program
It has been since 1979. It will always be. It is the one thing that drives our coaches, players, staff and us - the forever fans.

4. Blood, sweat, pain, and work are the only things that hang banners at Gonzaga
Nothing has ever been given or will ever be given to Gonzaga. No one will every give Gonzaga the benefit of the doubt. Nothing will ever be awarded out of obligation to Gonzaga. Anything that Gonzaga has or will have will be through the never-ending drive and commitment of it's people. When you see those banners, they do not represent luck. They do not represent entitlement. They only represent a commitment to beat people. A commitment to win the right way consistently. They represent a commitment to take something from people who do not want Gonzaga to have anything.

Final Thought:

Never for one second undervalue winning the WCC Season or Tournament Championship. There are thousands of people around the country who hate watching us win it and would do anything within the rules of play for another shot at taking it from us. And they will keep trying with everything they've got. But until then, let us never forget that at Gonzaga, there is nothing better than raising another banner.

gozagswoohoo
02-28-2014, 11:25 AM
Post of the season right here!

Thank you for this. Really.

23dpg
02-28-2014, 11:26 AM
:cheers:

gonzagafan62
02-28-2014, 11:40 AM
This was the best post I have seen this season. Thanks. That was nothing but the truth.

Vanzagger
02-28-2014, 11:49 AM
Cool story and some good message in there too. Now let's get on Sam Dower's back and go deep, like a Kansas team 20 plus years ago did with Danny Manning.

Zags11
02-28-2014, 11:58 AM
Plus 42 million.

primal23
02-28-2014, 12:02 PM
Scary thought, 20 years ago, I was nearing the point where I would be starting at GU.

cjm720
02-28-2014, 12:06 PM
Good post!

SWZag
02-28-2014, 12:18 PM
Great post. Absolutely spot on.

SWZag

Martin Centre Mad Man
02-28-2014, 12:33 PM
'94 was a great year for Gonzaga basketball. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

WBM
02-28-2014, 12:36 PM
Awesome post. This should be published somewhere in addition to here.

LongIslandZagFan
02-28-2014, 12:41 PM
20 years ago... I was 4 years out of college and married for 2 years. Man am I getting old.

former1dog
02-28-2014, 12:47 PM
22 to 26 years ago, I was at Gonzaga and I competed for GU in a different sport. There was a rumor floating around that Fitz and the Athletic department were having to justify there status as a NCAA Div 1 participant and that they used my teams success in the WCAC (subsequently the WCC) as justification that we could be competitive. I think that rumor was true because it was in these years that the basketball team went one season with 8 wins and 20 losses.

I sure was stoked when GU basketball started to win, especially since one of my best friends from childhood was part of those teams in the early 90's that started to turn the corner and make Gonzaga relevant in the conference.

bigblahla
02-28-2014, 12:56 PM
:clap::clap::clap:

Go!! Zags!!!

Whalers86
02-28-2014, 12:59 PM
That post is an absolute beauty and It agree wholeheartedly with the possible exception of point #2: 20 years later (28 for me), the Gonzaga name has become well known and it has a very good reputation. Most people I know in Colorado will generally pull for (certainly not root against) Gonzaga in the tournament, as long as they're not playing CU, CSU or Air Force of course. On the West Coast, I can see how they might be tired of us grabbing the spotlight. Let's keep it up!

DixieZag
02-28-2014, 12:59 PM
22 to 26 years ago, I was at Gonzaga and I competed for GU in a different sport. There was a rumor floating around that Fitz and the Athletic department were having to justify there status as a NCAA Div 1 participant and that they used my teams success in the WCAC (subsequently the WCC) as justification that we could be competitive. I think that rumor was true because it was in these years that the basketball team went one season with 8 wins and 20 losses.

I sure was stoked when GU basketball started to win, especially since one of my best friends from childhood was part of those teams in the early 90's that started to turn the corner and make Gonzaga relevant in the conference.

Ah, I was there at exactly the same time. There was also a rumor that the five red-shirts were regularly kicking the varsity around the gym, actually not even close. It gave some hope. By 1992 I believe - they won 20 games for the first time in forever.

Yes, I wrote that Few was having an off year. One component of that - that isn't discussed but is implicit - is that one has to have a lot of damn good years to consider this an "off" one. It's just one opinion - but, based solely on the amazing accomplishments in the last 20 years.

Let's win tomorrow. Regardless, we're spoiled.

former1dog
02-28-2014, 01:01 PM
Ah, I was there at exactly the same time. There was also a rumor that the five red-shirts were regularly kicking the varsity around the gym, actually not even close. It gave some hope. By 1992 I believe - they won 20 games for the first time in forever.

I think you're right. As I recall it was a pretty big deal to win 20 games. Still is, IMHO.

Zags11
02-28-2014, 01:17 PM
20+ wins are a great thing. Usually means march also.

TexasZagFan
02-28-2014, 01:28 PM
Scary thought, 20 years ago, I was nearing the point where I would be starting at GU.

Even scarier, I was nearing the point of my 20th reunion.

Oregonzagnut
02-28-2014, 01:44 PM
Much of the worry in me is that Gonzaga will actually be an at large team. RPI, Sagarin, KenPom all imply a top 35 team. But like there now are so many rooting against us, I think that sentiment is prevalent and dominant on the East Coast, the power conference admins, the media and even selection committee. I think now Gonzaga is a threat to the idea that in DivI there is the top third Div-IA and a Div-IB and maybe even a Div IC. The power six will dominate the money, and therefore the media and sooner or later Gonzaga will lose its streak based on the idea that a mid-major can't possibly that good for that long.

If we lose 2 more, the masses will punish us.

zag69
02-28-2014, 01:48 PM
Thanks for the history lesson, McZ. As you can guess from my SN, I am from the Billy Suter/Gary Leachman/Big Sky Conference era.

94zagoldwomanasherdsmen
02-28-2014, 02:02 PM
Mr. McZag...apparently you an I graduated together...I share many of the same memories....hmmm...PM me and I'll be we know each other.

GoZags
02-28-2014, 02:12 PM
QFT re: the attitude of the CA schools (and WCC) vis a vis Gonzaga. Particularly Santa Clara.

Nicely done on your post. Agree with everything you said.

seacatfan
02-28-2014, 02:16 PM
Good post, good perspective. I'm a fan that has probably gotten spoiled, good reminder of where GU has come from and just what they have accomplished.

Zag 77
02-28-2014, 03:55 PM
I agree 100% McZag.

229SintoZag
02-28-2014, 06:02 PM
I agree with much of this post. I was at GU from 1991-1995. When I started I thought that little blond guy we had at point guard was sort of amusing. When I graduated we had just advanced to the NCAA for the first time, having dispatched Stanford the year before in the NIT.

Given how far we've come in 20 years, I tend to wonder how far we can go in 20 more. For some reason I keep hearing that Carpenters song in the back of my head: "we've only just begun,". . .

Zagsker
02-28-2014, 06:19 PM
I became a GU fan my second year at Eastern..the year we made the Elite Eight...I grew up in the LC valley and went to Eastern to play football, until that season I seriously had no idea of Gonzaga. I spent a good portion of my childhood in Nebraska so when I found GU I immediately gravitated to fandom because I have always wanted to have a college basketball team that I could root for that was a consistent winner (Nebraska/nebraskaball just couldn't do it). So obviously since I joined GU at the start of the run Iam spoiled in regards to expectations. I am a diehard Husker football fan and I have to say my passion for GU basketball closely rivals that. Great history lesson on GU and much like my Husker football I knew we would eventually hit a lull in consistency...as with the Huskers I #####ed and moaned about what should be done to turn it around but my fandom never wavered...the same approach is with the Zags

bartruff1
02-28-2014, 07:13 PM
I agree with much of this post. I was at GU from 1991-1995. When I started I thought that little blond guy we had at point guard was sort of amusing. When I graduated we had just advanced to the NCAA for the first time, having dispatched Stanford the year before in the NIT.

Given how far we've come in 20 years, I tend to wonder how far we can go in 20 more. For some reason I keep hearing that Carpenters song in the back of my head: "we've only just begun,". . .

I went to school with Jack Stockton....John's father....David's grandfather..... I was out of Gonzaga for more than 30 years 20 years ago... we couldn't spell NCAA.....

I keep hearing " I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas "........I used to carve " Bing " in the desks I used.

CdAZagFan
02-28-2014, 07:35 PM
Great Postů Makes you realize how spoiled we are. It was thirty years ago that friends and I used to play pickup basketball at GU - often getting into games with John Stockton and other GU players during the summer months. During basketball season, it was common for us to show up to a game 10 minutes late and be able to sit three rows up from the floor and watch the only nationally relevant game of the season when DePaul would visit...

Bocco
02-28-2014, 07:54 PM
Great post McZag - 20 years ago was 23 years after my senior year, and I can remember a lot of lean years. In the last 20 years Gonzaga has accomplished more that I ever thought possible. At one time my greatest wish was for the Zags to win a league championship and to play a game in the NCAA's, now I dare to dream the possibility of an NCAA championship.

Martin Centre Mad Man
03-07-2017, 07:33 PM
The men and women hoisted a pair of banners in Vegas.

These are good times to be a Zag fan.