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Gonzaga Basketball

Zags are even bigger champions off the court

Tue., March 5, 2013, midnight

March Madness. That springy time of year when cats and basketball fans go into simultaneous heat with yowling abandon.

One of them, in fact, was raising hell outside my bathroom window just the other night.

But I understand.

Thanks to Gonzaga men’s basketball, every living creature in Spokane has a reason to make wild noise this year.

And Monday’s news evoked a joyous crescendo.

The Zags achieved for the first time in school history the coveted national No. 1 ranking in the AP poll.

My, oh, my.

Our little Gonzaga, all grown up and tops in the country.

What a great moment for my hometown.

I, too, couldn’t be any more excited about the Zags, but not because of any real love for basketball.

My interest in the NCAA Tournament is about as tepid as it gets.

I don’t examine the brackets. Don’t participate in the office gambling pool.

My hoops watching is, at best, erratic.

I’ve attended exactly two Gonzaga games in the past 25 years.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t know Elias Harris from Harrison Ford, although Elias, I’m guessing, is a good bit taller.

Such basketball ambivalence can probably be tracked back to a fateful Saturday pickup game in my high school gym.

Shortly after my arrival, I became embroiled in a tug of war over the ball with this guy who was a year ahead of me.

The kid resolved our squabble by sucker-punching me in the face.

After that I stuck to tennis.

So I don’t count myself among the Zagnuts because of basketball.

I’m a raving fan because the Zags transcend basketball.

We live in a classless society where bad behavior is celebrated.

Gonzaga has scaled to the top by oozing nothing but class.

Gonzaga basketball is an anomaly, a “Leave it to Beaver” program in a trashy Kardashian world.

Gonzaga is hip by being square, and it starts with the team’s unassuming coach, Mark Few.

Coach Few doesn’t throttle or demean his players. He doesn’t toss folding chairs in screaming fits of on-court jackassery.

Few is known for teaching principles along with fundamentals.

Here’s what Few expects from his players: play hard, work together, go to class and – above all else – represent their university with the respect and dignity it deserves.

How lucky is Spokane to have this modern program that is built on old-school values?

And what an example the Bulldogs are for the rest of us.

Unlike our City Council, not one member of the Gonzaga team has ever called the governor a “lying whore.”

Zag Fever is the best ambassador Spokane’s had since Expo ’74.

Not to mention that this is the first time in 600 years that Gonzaga has made an NCAA run without a sitting pope.

And speaking of unforeseen Bulldog benefits, who knew that a basketball team from a private Jesuit college could do the impossible?

I don’t mean about poll standings or wins and losses.

I’m talking about teaching the world the proper “soft-a” pronunciation of not only the school, but the city, too.

All the years of Gonzaga success have made an impact on most of the national sportscasters and commentators. Only the real thickheaded types say “SpokAne” or “Gon-zawga” any more.

Simply amazing.

Yep. It’s official: The Zags are No. 1.

But we didn’t need a poll to tell us that.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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