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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga coach Mark Few could be Maui’s biggest fan

Gonzaga coach Mark Few has been a Maui fan ever since the Bulldogs have been coming to the prestigious invitational. In this 2005 photo, Few looks out from Kaanapali beach to the island of Lanai. (MICHAEL CONROY / AP)

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Mark Few was wrapping up media obligations Sunday morning at the Hyatt Regency when he was asked if he had a chance to go surfing.

“Working on it,” Gonzaga’s coach smiled. “If I can get out of here, there’s a little bit of a window (before practice).”

Everybody who visits Maui pretty much becomes a fan, but Few might be at the front of the line with his endorsement of the island.

It’s a match rooted in Gonzaga’s three trips to the Maui Invitational, which includes Adam Morrison’s 43-point explosion in a triple-overtime win over Michigan State in 2005 and the 2009 tourney title run behind co-MVPs Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray.

Morrison was voted the 2005 MVP even after GU lost to UConn 65-63 in the championship game.

Few’s affinity for Maui extends beyond basketball. Few and his family try to take annual vacations here.

“This is our spot, man,” said Few, whose team opens against Illinois on Monday night. “I think I could vote here, or probably close.”

The Zags arrived Friday but Illinois’ unusual offensive and defensive style hasn’t allowed for much free time.

“Very unique,” Few said of the opponent, “so it was a lot of prep.”

Few recited several reasons why the tournament is generally regarded as the best holiday event on the college basketball calendar.

“This is the one tournament that really moves the needle with your players, with your fans – they’re always asking when are we going back to Maui – and even in recruiting,” he said.

“If you mention Maui in recruiting at the highest level, the kids are very excited because they know the type of games they’ll be in and the type of attention (the tournament receives).”