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Former Gonzaga players band together as ‘Few Good Men’

UPDATED: Tue., May 23, 2017, 10:52 p.m.

Former Gonzaga player Blake Stepp, right, at the 2014 Hoopfest, considers himself the “old man” with Few Good Men. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Gonzaga player Blake Stepp, right, at the 2014 Hoopfest, considers himself the “old man” with Few Good Men. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Dan Dickau doesn’t play much pickup basketball these days.

The local gym just doesn’t seem to garner the kind of competitors the ex-Zag was accustomed to seeing on the NBA courts.

“It might sound funny, but it’s just the competitive factor, of wanting to be in a competitive environment,” Dickau said.

Last year, Dickau got back on the big stage and competed alongside former NBA stars and international players in what has been dubbed The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team event of mostly current and former professional players.

He brought with him a few other former Zags, including Blake Stepp, who shared the floor with Dickau inside the Kennel in the early 2000s. The tournament gave Dickau and Stepp the chance to relive their glory days inside the Kennel.

“It kind of takes you back a little bit,” Stepp said.

The 12-man team of mostly Gonzaga alumni referred to themselves as Few Good Men, named after longtime Gonzaga head coach Mark Few.

This summer, Few Good Men is going for a second run in the tournament for a chance to take home $2 million with a first-place title.

This year’s roster is capped at 10 – if you’re counting Stepp, who thinks of himself more of a coach than a player.

“I would consider myself as the last person off the bench,” Stepp said. That’s mostly because of his “old” age of 35 years and because of his multiple injuries acquired on the court over the years that have slowed him down.

Some of last year’s players are back this summer, including Jeremy Pargo and ex-Missouri forward Leo Lyons, who will come back to the U.S. while on break from his current team Akita Northern Happinets of Japan.

Mike Hart and 2005 Gonzaga graduate Jordan Piscopo, the director of the Spokane Club basketball program, also made the cut for a second year.

The team has a few newcomers, one being an ex-Zag – Steven Gray, who played in the Kennel from 2008 to 2011. Few Good Men also invited Pargo’s brother Jannero, former San Diego State forward Malcom Thomas and Kevin Palmer, who plays alongside Lyons on Akita NH.

In last year’s run to the Super 16, Few Good Men outscored their first two opponents, Air Force Bomb Squad and 7outz, by a combined 76 points. Few Good Men, which was seeded third in the West Regional, then fell to No. 6 Utah in the round of 16 and was eliminated.

“(We) played pretty bad, turned the ball over a lot,” Stepp said. “I would argue that if we played that game 10 times, we’d probably win eight or nine, but that wasn’t our night.”

This year, the hope is to at least make an appearance on ESPN, which will televise the games beginning with the Super 16 on July 20 in Brooklyn, New York.

ESPN will also show the semifinals and championship, which will be played in Baltimore on Aug. 1 and 3.

But to get there, Few Good Men have to first qualify for the tournament. Teams are essentially voted in online by fans. The nine teams with the highest number of votes in a region are automatically admitted into the tournament. Six more teams in each region are chosen at-large.

As of Tuesday, Team Challenge ALS was leading the West Region with 798 points.

So far, Few Good Men have collected 415 votes from fans, putting them 12th in the West.

Fans who vote and get others to vote can earn points on the site. The fans of the team that wins the championship in August will split $200,000. The winning team’s fan that gathered the most points by June 1 will take home $20,000.

Fans can go to thetournament.com to cast a vote for Few Good Men. Voting ends on June 1 at 9 a.m.

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