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Quartet of Gonzaga greats ready to relive best moments at ‘Gonzaga Legends’ event

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

At the start of the NCAA Tournament that started it all, Matt Santangelo remembers just trying to enjoy the moment.

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team was in Seattle, playing in what would be the first of 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

“The bright lights, the attention was all just crazy, a crazy amount of energy and intensity. We tried to enjoy it,” Santangelo said. “We wanted more, but we wanted to enjoy the moment.”

The 10th-seeded Bulldogs – known then as a Cinderella team and not the perennial power they have become – won three games in the West Region, defeating Minnesota, Stanford and Florida. The run ended in the Elite Eight with a 72-67 loss to UConn, the eventual national champion.

“We approached each of those games as we had approached every game,” said Casey Calvary, also a member of that team. “Nobody froze up, nobody didn’t show up. The stage wasn’t too big for any of our guys.”

But that was only the start of it.

Santangelo and Calvary, as well as Dan Dickau and Adam Morrison, will be at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox on Monday night as part of “Gonzaga Legends,” reliving those moments and sharing unique insights and laughs from behind the scenes of Gonzaga basketball.

“I think it’s fun going down memory lane. I always like hearing the other stories, to hear Adam and Dan and Casey,” Santangelo said. “I think that it’s always fun to poke fun at the behind-the-scenes stuff we all experienced.”

Calvary said he’s excited about the chance to have the conversation.

“From the group we’re getting together, I think there will be a lot of insight,” Calvary said.

Dickau agreed.

“It’s a pretty unique event that they’re putting together, and it’ll be fun,” he said. “I know a lot of us guys, we don’t have as much chance to get together and talk Gonzaga hoops like we used to be able to, with different commitments pulling us different ways.”

The event is part of The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages series. SWX sports director Sam Adams as well as S-R reporter Jim Meehan and columnist John Blanchette will host the event.

General admission tickets ($6) are available online at spokane7tickets.com. Admission includes a poster of each player and a 2018-19 basketball schedule poster. The event will also air live on SWX at 7 p.m.

A VIP ticket package is also available for $40. It includes front-row reserved seating, a pre-event appetizer and beverage at the Tamarack Public House, an event shirt, early access to player posters and a commemorative poster available only to VIPs.

Santangelo played at Gonzaga from 1997 to 2000 and is the program’s career assists leader with 668. He was named an All-America honorable mention by the Associated Press in 1999 and was named to the West Coast Conference’s first-team three times.

He is now the executive director of Hoopfest and also organizes local youth teams, including Spokane AAU.

Like Dickau, Santangelo and many former Zags, Calvary still lives in the area. He looks at the success of the program now and is struck by its longevity.

“It surprises me all the time,” he said. “Every time the rankings come out and we’re in the top five, that will surprise me till the day I die.”

Calvary (1998 to 2001) was named to the West Region first team during that 1999 run. He helped the Zags to three consecutive Sweet 16 appearances and ranks 13th on the Gonzaga all-time scoring list with 1,509 points.

In 1998-99, Calvary shot 65.8 percent from the field. That is the second-best, single-season shooting percentage in program history, behind Domantas Sabonis’ 66.8 in 2014-15.

After transferring from the University of Washington, Dickau played two seasons for Gonzaga and was the program’s first member of the All-America first team in 2002. That summer, the Sacramento Kings selected him with the 28th pick in the NBA Draft and traded him to the Atlanta Hawks later that night. He played for eight NBA teams.

A sharpshooter, Dickau still holds the single-season Gonzaga record with 117 3-pointers made in 2001-02.

Morrison played three seasons for the Zags (2004-06), and he led the team to a 29-4 record and a No. 5 final ranking in the AP poll in 2005-06. He led the nation in scoring that year (28.1 points per game) and was a first-team, All-America selection and the co-player of the year with Duke’s J.J. Redick.

That accomplishment, Dickau said, established Gonzaga as a national power.

“With Adam being player of the year, you’re only looking at a handful of programs in the country the last 25 to 30 (years) that have legit player-of-the-year-type candidates,” Dickau said.

The Mead High School graduate was selected third overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. Later, he won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010 in limited playing time.

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