Of the thousands of blue-and-red-clad patrons wrapped around the McCarthey Center Saturday afternoon, more than a few had the foresight to bring a lawn chair.
Waiting for entry into the annual Kraziness in the Kennel, where they would see the 2017-2018 edition of the Bulldogs, a handful of folks set up their posts around 6 a.m. to ensure a desirable seat.
After all, this was the Gonzaga men’s basketball team they were waiting for – a team that played for the national title six months ago.
When the doors opened at 3 p.m., it was staunch Zags fan Louie Miacolo who toed the inside of his hoops haven first.
Miacolo has been the front-of-the-line man for the last few years, he said, a feat that hasn’t come without a price.
Three years ago, Miacolo slept in his Chevy TrailBlazer near the McCarthey Center so he’d be first in the door.
Camping out for coveted Gonzaga game tickets has been commonplace. But Kraziness in the Kennel, which is free for the general public, is just as significant to the Spokane man and many others who sacrificed hours Saturday for the experience.
Water bottles, snacks and chitchat among other fans helped Miacolo endure the hourslong wait, he said.
“I’ve been here for this at 4:30 a.m, 5:30 a.m,” he said. “This is the highlight of my life.
“It’s from the heart. I love the coaches here, I love the players here. This is the greatest college in the U.S., right here. The people here are just great people.”
Josh Scott, a father of seven, showed up around noon to stand a good 300 people behind Miacolo.
Scott, wearing decorative Gonzaga sleeves with a toddler on his arm, had six of his young children in tow, visibly excited for the 3-point and dunk contests, scrimmage and postgame autograph session.
Naturally, many children don’t have the patience to wait in line for hours. Luckily, there were amenities for all on hand.
“We played in the bouncy castle and got to shoot around,” said Samuel Scott.
Dad held the spot in line while the kids enjoyed the fan festival. For some of his children, this was their first up-close Gonzaga experience.
“I’ve been going to this the last four years,” Josh Scott said. “It’s a fun thing.”
Gonzaga cheerleaders did their part to keep the long-waiting crowd animated, drawing a few Bulldog cheers and chants among sections of the lengthy line.
Todd Zeidler, Gonzaga’s assistant athletic director for communications, has witnessed this scene at previous Kraziness in the Kennels.
He’s taken aback by Spokane’s overwhelming support every time.
“For us to be out there and see that, it’s the stuff that gives you goose bumps,” Zeidler said.
The fans’ wait was rewarded in being the first to see the dropping of the program’s first Final Four banner and a new, sizable, state-of-the-art scoreboard that will heighten the fan experience.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few was presented with the 2016-2017 Naismith Award trophy, awarded to the year’s most outstanding NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach, before the events commenced.
“The last time we saw you we were in Phoenix, having a great time,” Few said to a roaring crowd before he was given the Naismith trophy.
Zeidler noted that many of the fans who can’t get to a regular-season game relish this experience, and he’s happy the school is able to provide it.
“The biggest supporters are in our community, so anything we can do to open the doors to them, the better,” Zeidler said.
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