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Thread: Banners Don't Hoist Themselves (long)

  1. #1
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    Default Banners Don't Hoist Themselves (long)

    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.
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    Last edited by McZag; 02-28-2014 at 12:22 PM.
    Gonzaga Basketball
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  2. #2
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    Post of the season right here!

    Thank you for this. Really.
    Allow myself to introduce....myself...

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    This was the best post I have seen this season. Thanks. That was nothing but the truth.
    20 Straight Big Dances

    10 Straight Round of 32s

    9 Sweet Sixteens

    3 Elite Eights

    2017 FINAL FOUR

    2017 NATIONAL RUNNER UP

    The Best Point Guard to ever play the game: John Stockton, most assists, most steals.

  5. #5
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    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.
    Think Big. No think Bigger than that!

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    Plus 42 million.
    Love the zags for life

  7. #7
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    Scary thought, 20 years ago, I was nearing the point where I would be starting at GU.
    11 cheers for binary!

    "Make me a sandwich"
    "Make it yourself"
    "Sudo Make me a sandwich"
    "Okay"

  8. #8
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    Good post!
    Go Zags!!!

  9. #9
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    Great post. Absolutely spot on.

    SWZag
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    Gonzaga sind die besten! Gehe Zags!

  10. #10
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    '94 was a great year for Gonzaga basketball. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  11. #11
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    Awesome post. This should be published somewhere in addition to here.

  12. #12
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    20 years ago... I was 4 years out of college and married for 2 years. Man am I getting old.
    "And Morrison? He did what All-Americans do. He shot daggers in the daylight and stole a win." - Steve Kelley (Seattle Times)

    "Gonzaga is a special place, with special people!" - Dan Dickau #21

    Foo me once shame on you, Foo me twice shame on me.

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  13. #13
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    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.

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    Go!! Zags!!!

  15. #15
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    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!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by former1dog View Post
    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.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DixieZag View Post
    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.

  18. #18
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    20+ wins are a great thing. Usually means march also.
    Love the zags for life

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by primal23 View Post
    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.

  20. #20
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    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.
    “People can talk. People can speculate. These guys are hungry and they're ready to go." Mark Few

  21. #21
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    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.

  22. #22
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    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.
    How to ride a horse:
    Step One - Mount the horse.
    Step Two - Stay mounted ...

  23. #23
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    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.

  24. #24
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    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.

  25. #25
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    Default Brilliantly stated

    I agree 100% McZag.

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