Brian Michaelson arrived at Gonzaga University during fall 2000 and walked on to the Bulldogs basketball team. He’d had an outstanding prep career at Jesuit High School in Portland, where he averaged 19.8 points and 5.5 rebounds as a senior and was named the Metro League Player of the Year and a first-team all-stater.
In the five years since, the 6-foot-4 senior, who redshirted as a freshman, has obtained an undergraduate degree in business marketing and is working toward his MBA. But he has played a grand total of 143 minutes – a little more than one per game. Still, because of his dedication, leadership abilities and knowledge of the game, Michaelson was placed on scholarship by GU coach Mark Few last fall, and, prior to the start of the 2004-05 season, was named co-captain of this year’s team, along with senior forward Ronny Turiaf.
As a Bulldog, Michaelson has traveled from the island of Maui to New York City and many points in between – all while watching from the bench in such famed venues as the Big Apple’s Madison Square Garden, the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., and Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Earlier this week, with only four regular-season games left in his career, he took time to answer a few questions from the Spokesman-Review about the wonderful five-year ride he has had with the Zags.
S-R: What made you decide to attend Gonzaga?
BM: Being from the Northwest and having attended a Jesuit High School, I knew a lot about Gonzaga, both academically and for its basketball success. And I just felt it was going to be the best fit for me in both of those aspects.
S-R: Did you have aspirations of playing more when you enrolled?
BM: I think everybody does. It would have been unrealistic to come to a school like this and not want to play.
S-R: What was your reaction when Coach Few put you on scholarship?
BM: It was obviously a great reward and a happy time. I was very proud and very thankful to the program and to the coaching staff. It was an awesome thing for him to do.
S-R: How did you feel about being named a co-captain?
BM: At first I was shocked, being somebody who doesn’t play a lot and necessarily contribute in terms of minutes, points or rebounds. But once it settled in, it was really no big deal. Playing, or not playing, I knew was going to have to provide some leadership, being one of only two seniors.
S-R: Do you have a favorite memory of being a part of Gonzaga basketball?
BM: Looking back, there’s no doubt that No. 1 was the trip to Maui (for the Maui Invitational in November 2002). It was such a beautiful opportunity to spend Thanksgiving week wearing shorts and T-shirt. There was the chance to be at Madison Square Garden and the trip to Memphis my first year here, where we won a couple of (NCAA Tournament) games. But Hawaii is hard to top.
S-R: You and Ronny will make your last appearances in front of the hometown fans against Northern Colorado on Feb. 28. What is it like knowing Senior Night is so near?
BM: It’s definitely difficult to think about. I’m going to miss going to practice every day with my teammates and playing in front of big crowds. But on the other hand, I’ve had my five years and I’ve loved every second of them. It’s unfortunate it’s ending, but it’s a fact of life and I’m willing to accept it.
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