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Angelo Roncalli
08-21-2015, 10:07 AM
Lechman was a stud. Playing center at just 6'3" in height, he led Gonzaga to two Big Sky championships in the 60's.

http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/082015aaa.html

gonzagafan62
08-21-2015, 10:20 AM
Lechman was a stud. Playing center at just 6'3" in height, he led Gonzaga to two Big Sky championships in the 60's.

http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/082015aaa.html

Damn. Great guy too. Sad day

zag67
08-21-2015, 11:13 AM
I watched Gary, Billy, John Brodski, and company for 3 years. They were fun to watch and did a great job representing GU. It is sad to see Gary and John pass away.

SteelZag
08-21-2015, 11:30 AM
I got my first exposure of Zag BB watching Lechman and what a treat it was.

MDABE80
08-21-2015, 12:09 PM
I worked with Gary, Chuck Thomas and some of the other players tearing up railroad ties on the south edge of the campus.
In those days, if you weren't playing your sport, you had a work study job. SO we all worked together.
Gary and crew were about the greatest young guys a frosh could ever ask for.

A family man, a compassionate character, an honest guy who worked hard.
Those temans were unmistakeably short but they really dug in when needed. They did it with defense. The one thing you could control..................lessons to be learned.
RIP Young Fella! Loved you then and now.

sittingon50
08-21-2015, 01:28 PM
RIP, Gary.

Birddog
08-21-2015, 03:49 PM
Very sad, why did it take so long to publish this. Lechman was a man among boys the way he moved his butt and got position and his baby hook was lethal. What a joy to watch Gary, Brodsky, Billy et al. In regards to his height, it has been variously reported as anywhere from 6'3" to 6'8". In late July I had a fairly long conversation with one of his AAU team mates and the question of his height came up. The guy I was talking with said he himself was 6'8" and pretty much looked Gary in the eye. He also said Gary played so much bigger because of his wide body and use of it clearing space. IIRC, he was listed by the Review and the program as 6'5 3/4" in his playing days, still pretty short for a guy that played true center.
May he RIP and condolences to his family.

DixieZag
08-21-2015, 04:06 PM
Sad to hear - legendary Zag who I would never had heard of if it weren't for the people here who teach all of us new(er) Zags about the days pre-Stockton.

Those guys practiced/played just as hard, but did so in front of small crowds, small lockers. They didn't travel by private plane (or any plane) and didn't have $500 worth of shirts, shorts, hoodies, showered on them.

I would love it if some of the people who were there during that period, would use this thread to share some stories of Gary and his contemporaries. I don't think this board is ever better than when we learn about the older generation that wore the uniform as Zags and that seems like a fitting tribute.

Zag Man
08-21-2015, 04:52 PM
Lechman was a stud. Playing center at just 6'3" in height, he led Gonzaga to two Big Sky championships in the 60's.

http://www.gozags.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/082015aaa.html


I was introduced to Gonzaga basketball watching Gary Lechman during my freshman and sophomore years. Gary was an amazing low-post player, and a ferocious rebounder and competitor. He was just fun to watch play! My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends.

Birddog
08-21-2015, 06:09 PM
Gary was an AAU All American in 1968, the year Spokane's own Vaughn Realty was the national runner.

http://www.apbr.org/aau.html

https://books.google.com/books?id=kHVGigFqcNkC&pg=PA234&lpg=PA234&dq=vaughn+realty+aau+team&source=bl&ots=56R0bs1Nqy&sig=deegZCqCUle2N8QcGuM_vXEJQhI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAmoVChMIuOeHu8i7xwIVS8yACh2GwQDG#v=on epage&q=vaughn%20realty%20aau%20team&f=false


All Americans (note 3 locals)

967–68 Ashley, Carl Denver Capitol Federal
Barrett, Mike U.S. Armed Forces All-Stars
Black, Tom Akron Goodyears
Carter, George U.S. Armed Forces All-Stars
Clawson, John U.S. Armed Forces All-Stars
Fowler, Calvin Akron Goodyears
Lechman, Gary Spokane (WA) Vaughn Realty
McDonald, Rod Spokane (WA) Vaughn Realty
Silliman, Mike U.S. Armed Forces All-Stars
Skaife, Jerry Spokane (WA) Vaughn Realty

My friend told me that the Armed Forces All Stars were all from back East and they were not prepared for Denver and didn't adapt well while there. He said they were probably a much better team than Vaughn, but most of the Vaughn players played at 2,000' or more and were better prepared for Denver. He said it was a heartbreaker to lose after the 2 furious comebacks.He had nothing but good to say about Gary. Oddly, our conversation probably occurred shortly after Gary's death. I'm sure he didn't know about it either or he would have mentioned it.

bartruff1
08-22-2015, 04:09 AM
My strongest recollection of Gary was that he was unstoppable in the key. I think like Frank, he was older, like 24, and he was man among boys. I think at one time he led the league in scoring, rebounding, FG %, FGs....and even FT %. Very
smooth.

The start of a new era Gonzaga Basketball.

Reborn
08-22-2015, 06:59 AM
Condolences to Gary's family and friends. He will surely be missed, but he left his mark on all who knew him or saw him play.

My first year on the varsity at GU, Gary, Bill Suter and I believe Thomas stayed around the gym for a month to help us. At the beginning of the season I was on the scrub squad who played with Gary and Billy and I loved every minute playing with them. Those guys helped me advance step by step all the way to playing off the bench (7th man) at the beginning of the season, to starter by mid-season. Billy Suter, who was a legend himself, played point guard and of course helped me the most. Honestly, the thing I remember about those guys is how fantastic they could pass the ball. when I received the ball from them it directly in a place where I could catch and shoot. And I also believe that somehow their greatness rubbed off on me. You know how it is when you play with the best, you always play better. I will always believe that my success at GU is attributed to both Gary and Billy. Gary, who you all know by now played center, was the one who most often delivered the ball to me in one or two of the plays GU had in those days, and like it said, the pass was always perfect.

These guys really knew how to have fun too. I also played with them in the gym at night, hours after practice, and these guys were so funny. They seemed more like little kids than adults. I wanted to take that with me too, and I believe I have. There has always been a place in my life for that little kid who loved playing on the playground, or in the park, or even in his back yard with his friends. I thank them for that even more then the basketball skills they helped me hone.

Gary was 6'5" and a half. He was not tall, but he was not 6' 3". And has been said, he knew how to use his x-tra large butt in the low post. hahhahahaha. He was unstoppable in the low post.
Although Lechman was only 6'5" he was still the tallest man on that team. As Abe said, these guys played together (chemistry) like few teams that ever played at GU, and they were TOUGH.

SteelZag
08-22-2015, 09:30 AM
Great post Reborn. Thanks. Love the inside scoop.

Birddog
08-22-2015, 10:08 AM
My strongest recollection of Gary was that he was unstoppable in the key. I think like Frank, he was older, like 24, and he was man among boys. I think at one time he led the league in scoring, rebounding, FG %, FGs....and even FT %. Very
smooth.

The start of a new era Gonzaga Basketball.

Gary had been enlisted in the US Navy before he entered college. IIRC, he mostly played ball in the navy too. The armed services used to do that back in the day. They even had football teams in addition to the Academy, at least the Army did.

GU69
08-22-2015, 10:35 AM
The start of a new era Gonzaga Basketball.

Lechman, Suter, and Hank Anderson moved Gonzaga basketball significantly, getting the Kennedy built.

hondo
08-22-2015, 09:06 PM
Lechman, Suter, and Hank Anderson moved Gonzaga basketball significantly, getting the Kennedy built.

And before the new Kennedy Pavilion opened Gary Lechman broke his arm at practice and was not available for the first game of the season against WSU. Our Zags got creamed at home in that first game. Later that season, with a healthy Lechman Gonzaga whipped up on the Cougs in Pullman.

Zag365
08-22-2015, 09:27 PM
Someone who is good at finding stats should dig up Lechman's FG%. My recollection is that he was in the nation's top 10 his senior year (along with some guy named Alcindor).

NumberCruncher
08-23-2015, 01:08 PM
Someone who is good at finding stats should dig up Lechman's FG%. My recollection is that he was in the nation's top 10 his senior year (along with some guy named Alcindor).

The record book on gozags.com shows his FG% percent that year at 62.0%, which was the school record at the time. He also was the Zag career record holder at that time with a mark of 57.9%.

Entering last season, he was still in 7th for a single season and tied for 6th with Casey Calvary for his career. When that gets updated, he will drop to 9th for a single season and be tied for 8th on the career list. Sabonis is now 1st on both lists, and Karnowski is 6th on the single season list and 4th on the career list.

BTW, I went to the same high school (Roseville Tigers) as Gary - 12 years later.