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Gonzaga Basketball

An eras tour, Gonzaga style: From Calvary to Karnowski, former players share untold tales, can’t-miss stories from a quarter-century of NCAA success

Twenty-six years without a misstep.

One of the most impressive, unlikely streaks in American sports history has been well-documented and anyone who’s followed Gonzaga’s quarter-century of NCAA success should be well-versed in the history: Casey Calvary’s tip-in, Jordan Mathews’ 3-pointer, Jalen Suggs’ buzzer beater.

Most know the iconic shots and big games, but what about the untold tales and behind-the-scenes moments?

Casey Calvary’s hysterical radio interview 14 hours after his winning shot. Adam Morrison’s dispute with Tommy Lloyd, culminating with choice words and flying basketballs in both directions. The “War Drill” that brought the best out of Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski, nearly triggering a brawl between good friends.

As Gonzaga prepares to accept a 26th straight bid to the Big Dance, we caught up with more than a dozen former players – everyone from Calvary to Karnowski – to pull back the curtains and get a backstage look at the nation’s second-longest NCAA Tournament run.


Casey’s moment, Quentin’s antics

For more than two decades, members of Gonzaga’s breakthrough 1998-99 NCAA Tournament team have retold stories of Casey Calvary’s iconic tip-in and the moments that followed. Dan Monson’s attempt at a postgame speech. Gonzaga players hurling themselves into a hotel pool, still dressed in game uniforms. Casey Calvary, Quentin Hall and student broadcaster Eric Edelstein coaxing a reporter to join them in a jacuzzi for an interview.

Quentin Hall (guard, 1997-99): “Coach Monson had to say something. He was like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do. But we’re here.’ ”

Richie Frahm (guard, 1996-2000): “He usually has something to say. Like, ‘Hey you guys suck,’ or, ‘You guys need to stay focused.’ … I think we broke him.”

The fun spilled into the morning. Calvary had practically gained stardom overnight, admitting prior to his putback shot, “I wasn’t really on people’s radar except for like dunking on people.”

It started to sink in for the Tacoma native when he woke up early for a phone interview with Fabulous Sports Babe, a popular sports radio host who had a daily talk show syndicated across national ESPN platforms.

Casey Calvary (forward, 1997-2001): “We’re trying to do an interview and Quentin Hall is on the bed next to me jumping up and down yelling answers until I finally just hand the phone over. … He’s shouting and who knows what that sounded like over the radio. It was basically like, ‘UConn, we’re going to bust y’all.’ ”


Mario party spoiled

After wins over Virginia and Indiana State, a physical, imposing Michigan State team stood in Gonzaga’s way of a second trip to the Elite Eight in three years. With Jason Richardson and Charlie Bell, Tom Izzo’s guard line was tough, but Michigan State’s frontcourt was just as good or better – so deep that a future two-time NBA All-Star, Zach Randolph, had to play off the bench.

Kyle Bankhead (guard, 2000-04): “Honestly, to this day, I thought that kind of changed the mindset of the coaching staff at Gonzaga a little bit. Michigan State, we really had no chance. Their physicality was unbelievable.”

Dan Dickau (guard, 2000-02): “That really kind of introduced the importance of rebounding kind of changed coach Few’s focus in that offseason.”

The Zags struggled to match up with the Spartans, losing 77-62, but the season didn’t end without a few ‘what ifs.’

Mario Kasun, a 7-footer from Croatia, came to Spokane as a top recruit only to be ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to complications with the Croatian Basketball Federation. Kasun was eventually selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 41st overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft.

Calvary: “Mario and I played really, really well together and if you could imagine a 7-foot talented Croat who could stroke 3s, who has a big attitude and edge to him playing alongside us that year with that Michigan State team. We whoop them and we go win a national title. That’s the NCAA doing robbery. … I still have a chip on my shoulder, man. I’m 44.”

Ticket scroungers

Looking for ways to pass time before the Sweet 16 game against Michigan State, Dickau and two teammates, Jay Sherrell and Germayne Forbes, set out to find tickets to an NBA game between the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers at Philips Arena.

Dan: “Obviously, broke college kids, you don’t have NIL money before then so you’re trying to make it by. … You’re not supposed to get free NBA tickets at the time is how it worked. Somebody recognized me, he was like an agent at the time. He offered tickets, but we didn’t have enough for everybody, so we didn’t go.”

The alternative?

Dickau: “Instead, CNN headquarters were right there, so we ended up going up and just randomly going up and going into CNN’s Sports Illustrated headquarters at the time. … Somebody recognized me so we did an interview and just kind of hung out.”

Dickau eventually found his way into Philips Arena, playing 73 games for the Hawks from 2002-04.


Game of chicken

Hours before Gonzaga swallowed a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Wyoming, Bankhead had trouble getting a piece of chicken down during a team lunch at the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Marriott. The Gonzaga guard had dealt with esophageal issues dating back to his childhood and they resurfaced hours before the biggest game of his career to that point.

A team doctor tried everything to dislodge the food stuck inside Bankhead’s esophagus, even resorting to the Heimlich maneuver. Those methods failed and Bankhead was rushed to the emergency room.

Bankhead: “I could breathe, but I couldn’t swallow. It was extremely uncomfortable.”

Doctors could remove the piece of meat, but it meant sedating Bankhead. That wasn’t an option if he still had hopes of playing a basketball game later that evening. A local gastroenterologist dropped his patients to treat Bankhead, shoving a tube through the esophagus to remove the chicken. Bankhead vomited, sprinted back to the team hotel, grabbed his uniform and made two 3-pointers off the bench in a 73-66 loss.

Dickau: “Looking back on it, it’s hilarious. In the moment, you’re like, ‘What the hell is going on? This is weird.’ ”


Basement anticipation

Days after losing to San Diego in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship, a group of anxious Zags huddled together to watch Selection Sunday, unsure if their resume – featuring eight losses and only a couple quality wins – would be good enough to secure an at-large bid.

Rather than watching from a swanky club room at the McCarthey Athletic Center – where Gonzaga watch parties take place now – players and coaches gathered at Bill Grier’s house, filing into the assistant coach’s basement to learn whether their season, and GU’s NCAA streak, would continue.

Richard Fox (center, 2002-04): “To say it was tense would be an understatement. Then when they announced us, the room just erupted. … Definitely, I think a sliding doors moment. Had we not made the tournament, what would that have meant? But that was a pretty cool moment, a lot of hugs and hooting and hollering.”

Before No. 9 Gonzaga took on No. 8 Cincinnati in the NCAA opener, the Bulldogs collected some bulletin board material from their head coach, who was critical of the team’s drive and commitment during an interview with Spokesman-Review beat writer Steve Bergum. “It’s made it tough on me – as a guy who’s pretty passionate about basketball – to try to will it upon them,” Few said.

Fox: “Talking about we’re a stoic group, not a lot of emotion, no leadership and he talked up the three freshmen that were coming in. (Adam) Morrison, (Sean) Mallon and (Derek) Raivio. To say it frustrated us would be an understatement. Guys were livid. … I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was on purpose, but we were ready to play.”


DJ duty

The Morrison era at Gonzaga produced 83 wins, more than 1,800 points and countless stories. Those that transpired off the court were usually as memorable as the ones that occurred on it.

Until the Mead High product arrived on campus, Fox and Bankhead were usually the first players in Gonzaga’s locker room before practices and games. Morrison started beating them there, giving him control of the locker room stereo system.

Fox: “The old locker room was basically a large storage closet and you could hear the music walking down the hallway and there would be (director of operations) Jerry Krause putting up information on the whiteboard and Adam in there with this music, like heavy metal type music at 1,000%.”

Adam Morrison (guard, 2003-06): “I was a freshman, I wasn’t used to be being told no at that point.”

Fox: “I remember walking in the second time, maybe third time, and I just turned off the music. Adam got mad at me and said basically, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And I said, ‘They’re called headphones.’ ” … It was just too much and I could see it was driving Krause crazy. Everyone’s got those quirks and to Adam’s credit, there were headphones the next game.”


More Mo-ments

Raivio opens the next story with a disclaimer: “I’m not sure if I should share this or not.”

During Morrison’s sophomore season, struggling with a rebounding drill, prompted assistant Tommy Lloyd to run his player through the same exercise a second time. Then a third time, fourth time, fifth time …

Derek Raivio (guard, 2003-07): “Finally Adam had enough … you could just see it on his face. So Adam got the ball, Tommy had his head turned back. Adam was probably 10 feet away, walked up to him and took the ball like a soccer throw behind his head and threw it as hard as he could and it smacked him right in the (groin).”

Morrison: “He caught it, but he knew what I was trying to do. So he chucked it right back at me and threw it at my head. I was like, all right, it was warranted.”

Trout sniffer

Guard David Pendergraft enrolled at GU in 2004, quickly forging a relationship with Raivio. The teammates spent summer days at local fishing holes, returning to the basketball facilities in the early evening for 5 p.m. weight training sessions.

Raivio: “He and I were fishing all day and he was like gutting and cleaning my fish with his practice shorts on. We went straight from there to weights and this guy was spotting me bench pressing. I was like, ‘What the hell is that nasty smell?’ He was spotting me behind me and his shorts have trout guts all over them. It was so bad. After that we called him trout sniffer.”

No socks, Mo problems

Speaking of pungent smells …

J.P. Batista (forward, 2004-06): “Adam had this bad habit of not wearing socks. … He used to come in the locker room, straight up shoes and feet. No socks. After a couple days, you could smell it.”

With a recruit coming to town and the locker room odor only growing stronger, Few put his foot down.

Batista: “(Few) walked in the locker room and he was like, ‘What is this smell?’ And everyone just pointed at Adam’s locker. He got closer and was like, ‘Nah, this can’t be. You guys are out of here.’ He kicked us out of the locker room for maybe three days.”

Morrison: “They made us show up to practice with no Gonzaga gear at all and we couldn’t go in there afterward so you just had to change right out in the gym and just go home.”

Brief benching

Morrison’s iconic career at GU didn’t come without bumps or hiccups. Midway through his sophomore year, the future consensus All-American was removed from the starting lineup. Morrison, by his estimation, had given up “six or seven offensive rebounds” in a loss to San Francisco while playing on the back side of GU’s zone defense.

Morrison: “Just because I didn’t put any effort.”

The next morning, Morrison got a call from Lloyd telling the wing he’d be coming off the bench the following day against San Diego. The first call actually went to Morrison’s father, John, a longtime college basketball coach.

Morrison: “So it softened the blow because I called my dad right away … He’s like, no you’re going to get back in the lineup, you need to do this, do this, do this.”

2005-06 ‘To: Ebay’

Attention surrounding Morrison escalated after he set a single-game Maui Invitational record with 43 points against Michigan State as a junior. The level of popularity became overwhelming at times, uncomfortable at others. During a game against San Francisco, Morrison used a strip of gauze to treat a bloody nose. A fan located the bloody bandage and attempted to sell it on Ebay.

Morrison: “Stuff got kind of wild, then the media stuff got a little tiresome, to be honest. Just because there was so much and at the time, any exposure was good. So they would have me do interviews with the Ritzville Times.”

Fans gathered outside Gonzaga’s locker room after games or at team hotels seeking photos and signatures. Morrison would oblige, but started to notice a concerning trend from autograph hunters.

Morrison: “You’re like, ‘Who am I signing this for?’ That’s when they’re like, ‘Uhh.’ OK, never mind, I’m not signing this so you can make $20 off me. I used to put ‘To: Ebay’ just to kind of ruin their deal.”

LMU highs, UCLA lows

Morrison still hasn’t watched it in full. He describes the moments after Gonzaga’s 73-71 Sweet 16 loss to UCLA as “a blackout” and can’t recall leaving the arena in Oakland, California.

Morrison: “Honestly, I barely remember where we stayed, what I did afterward, coming home. I usually would take a week or 10 days off. I imagine I did that, I imagine I drank some beers at that time, too.”

Gonzaga’s unraveling in the Sweet 16 overshadowed many of the team’s highlights late in the year, including a narrow, one-point victory over LMU in the WCC title game. Lions center Chris Ayer smoked a point-blank layup in the final seconds, allowing the Zags to prevail 68-67.

Morrison: “There’s a guy that used to work with the Lakers when I was there, a clubhouse guy, and he used to do the shot clock at the LMU game. When I first started doing radio, I was sitting next to him and one day he was like, ‘Just think of the arc of the program. How it changed off one missed layup.’ He’s like, ‘If we beat you guys and we go to the tournament in 2006, we’re in L.A. It changes everything for us. But we miss one layup and we’re (bad) for 20 years.’”


Sounds of a No. 1 seed

With more than a decade of success behind them, the Zags had achieved a variety of program firsts in the NCAA Tournament. They crossed off another in 2012, earning a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. The sights of a first-round matchup with No. 16 Southern may not have been as memorable as the sounds.

Kevin Pangos (guard, 2011-15): “I remember layup lines going into the Southern game and their band was unbelievable. They were like marching in the stands and the songs they were playing were just incredible. We were looking at each other like, ‘These guys are unbelievable.’ ”

Rem Bakamus (guard, 2012-17): “Southern played with a ton of juice and they had a phenomenal band.”

Desperate not to make the wrong kind of history in Salt Lake City, Gonzaga led by just three points at halftime, and Southern tied the game at 56 late in the second half on the heels of a 15-4 run. The crowd fell silent every time the Zags got a shot to drop, but roared in unison whenever the Jaguars scored.

Przemek Karnowski (center, 2012-17): “After one media timeout, you can feel the whole crowd going against us.”

Pangos: “Everyone else in the majority flipped on us and started cheering for Southern. They were hitting unbelievable stepback 3s, whatever it was, in guys’ faces. Good defense, bad defense, they were making everything.”

The Zags pulled through, winning 64-58 to preserve a 113-0 record for No. 1 seeds against No. 16s.



During a first-round NCAA game in 2014, Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State sent Karnowski to the foul line nine times, hoping the big man’s inconsistent free-throw shooting could help the Cowboys overcome a deficit in the second half.

Hack-a-Shaq? More like hack-a-Przemek.

Karnowski: “Or what the announcer (CBS Sports’ Andrew Catalon) called it (an offensive term for Polish people). He had a really, really bad time after the game. He came up to me and apologized. … I didn’t even know that … word is really, really offensive in America, I guess. I didn’t even care, but I remember some people were really mad about it.”

OSU’s tactics were somewhat effective as Karnowski went 3 of 9 from the free-throw line, but the Zags were still victorious, winning 85-77.


Handstand becomes viral hit

Nobody can trace the exact origins of Few’s first postgame handstand – pulled out after big wins in the regular season, and any win in the NCAA Tournament – but it gained widespread attention when Kyle Wiltjer posted a video of the coach’s signature celebration when the Zags beat Iowa in the second round of the 2015 tournament.

Pangos: “He played it off fine, I don’t know if he loved it.”

Bakamus: ”Wiltj is going to do what Wiltj does.”

Karnowski: “It kind of became a big tradition for us. You knew the handstand is coming.”

Few’s handstands were commonly followed by backflips courtesy of Eric McClellan and Karnowski’s trademark “Polish Hammer.”

Hot ticket

McClellan set low expectations for his junior season, expecting to sit out and help on the scout team after transfer rules initially prevented the Vanderbilt guard from becoming eligible. In a surprising development, McClellan was cleared before a Jan. 8 game against Santa Clara, and firmly entrenched in GU’s rotation by the time the Zags flew to Houston and his home state of Texas for the Sweet 16.

Eric McClellan (guard, 2014-16): “I had Houston rappers hit my line, guys I’ve been listening to since I was in middle school, asking for tickets. It was super cool.”

Kirko Bangz, a Houston-based rapper whose hit single ‘Drank in my Cup,’ peaked at No. 28 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and Slim Thug, another nationally renowned artist, messaged McClellan on social media.

McClellan: “At the time, honestly, I didn’t want the moment to be too big, I wanted to kind of downplay it.”

Matt … who?

The Zags picked off three straight opponents in the 2014 tournament – North Dakota State (86-76), Iowa (87-68) and UCLA (74-62) – to set up an Elite Eight meeting with top-seeded Duke. Seven of the nine players who played that game for the Blue Devils went on to play in the NBA, including third overall pick Jahlil Okafor, but the Zags struggled to contain one of the two who didn’t.

Pangos: “With all the (Jahlil) Okafor types, (Tyus) Jones, Quinn Cooks, Justise Winslow, you name it. Grayson Allens, and it was Matt Jones that ended up destroying us. That’s how the tournament is.”

Euro on Euro

When Domantas Sabonis arrived in Spokane, Karnowski, as the resident European on GU’s roster who made a similar transition years earlier, felt it was his duty to take the freshman forward under his wing.

The two grew close and remain that way. Karnowski attended Sabonis’ wedding in Cote d’Azur, watched his former teammate in the NBA All-Star Game last year and took in a Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers game earlier this season.

But during their time at GU, sparring sessions between the talented bigs often grew competitive, nearly bubbling over when Karnowski and Sabonis engaged in an exercise called War Drill.

Karnowski: “Basically, you get the ball close to the basket and you have to score without using the dribble. So it’s a bunch of step-throughs, pushing around, shoving, creating space and all that stuff.

One such instance of the drill nearly resulted in a fight, forcing a staffer to step between the teammates.

Karnowski: “I don’t remember if it was me or him, but in one moment we were ready to throw some hands. … I remember that, going from being really, really good friends to in a span of 10 seconds, I was ready to rip his head off. Then five minutes later, we were best friends again.”


Keeping their guard up

With two elite frontcourt players in Sabonis and Wiltjer, Gonzaga’s backcourt became a scapegoat for fans when the Bulldogs dropped three nonconference games and entered the WCC Tournament with seven losses, needing to clinch an auto bid to assure themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The GU guards felt they had something to prove, but not only to the fanbase.

McClellan: “Not that I’m able to reflect on it, one day I’m going to talk about everything that happened. All in all, I’m not playing victim or anything because we weren’t doing our jobs, but we were just doing what we were coached to do. Those guys didn’t trust us like that to make certain decisions.”

Sensing that something needed to change, McClellan called a meeting late in the year. Guards only.

McClellan: “It was my senior year and I was like man, we’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t. We’re playing with house money now, we’ve just got to go out there and hoop. I told the guys, ‘I’m not going out like this. We’re not going out like this.’ ”

Sweet moments, sour ending

The Zags beat Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game, clinched an auto bid and beat Seton Hall in the first round. Comments from Seton Hall players, who stated they were planning to run the Zags out of the gym, motivated Few’s group before the opener in Salt Lake City.

Kyle Dranginis (guard, 2012-15): “We definitely had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. … I think our coaching staff did a good job of some PR training there, because we didn’t want to give them any bulletin board material. We didn’t need much more motivation, so that was just kind of the tipping point, I would say.”

Gonzaga made it to the Sweet 16 where they’d lose in heartbreaking fashion, 63-60, to Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. McClellan’s playing time down the stretch of the narrow loss became a source of frustration for the senior guard, who sat for 13 minutes to close the game after committing four turnovers.

McClellan: “In hindsight, I feel like I could help and I feel like I earned the opportunity to kind of play through my mistakes.”

When Gonzaga returned to the team hotel, players and coaches gathered in a ballroom.

McClellan: “The first thing out of (Few’s) mouth – we had just lost a Sweet 16 game – the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Eric, I apologize. You should’ve been in the game.’ We had just lost a Sweet 16 game and it’s not about me, it’s not about us. The first thing out of this man’s mouth was an apology to me. I was like bro, I love you. He didn’t have to do that. When he did that, there was a newfound respect for Fewie.”


Midnight magic

Gonzaga’s path to Phoenix started with an impromptu hike in Idaho.

A foundational moment of the national championship run in 2017 occurred during the team’s annual preseason camping retreat. Unable to sleep, the Zags decided on a whim to take a midnight stroll, fumbling their way through a dark forest until they reached a nearby lake and accompanying dock.

Karnowski: “You were kind of outside of your comfort zone, we were out in the woods and it was kind of really, really good conversation, heart to heart. I think a lot of people opened up, we learned a lot about each other. We also learned what people have been through, how can we help each other, how can we stick together.”

Jordan Mathews (guard, 2016-17): “That was probably one of my top three moments of the year.”

Bakamus: “You get guys from Chicago out in the woods and Memphis, guys who’d never really experienced that, it made it fun for everybody. … Sat under the stars and just really bonded over mutual experiences and guys talking about their stories.”

Later in the year, another players-only gathering helped unify the Zags before their historic NCAA run. After a Senior Night loss spoiled GU’s unbeaten regular season, guard Nigel Williams-Goss and other team leaders organized a meeting at the Delano hotel in Las Vegas before facing Santa Clara in the WCC Tournament semifinal.

Bakamus: “We just aired everything out and the them with that team is we just talked about everything we felt. We just confronted issues, we didn’t keep anything a secret, so it was part of the reason we were so strong.”

Halfcourt heaves, Final Four heaven

Mathews had a good feeling about Gonzaga’s chances in an Elite Eight game against Xavier. During a pregame shootaround, a handful of players swished the traditional halfcourt shots taken at the end of practices. Few stepped up and knocked down one more.

Mathews: “We did our halfcourt shots and like seven people made them and coach Few finished it off, so we were like, ‘It’s really our time. It’s time to take care of business, let’s do this.”

Confidence was at an all-time high when Few pulled off the same feat at a Phoenix high school before Gonzaga faced South Carolina in the Final Four.

Mathews: “He cashed them both.”

Still Heeling

Karnowski’s now in a graduate assistant role at Arizona, working underneath Lloyd, the Wildcats’ third-year coach, and alongside other Gonzaga teammates/acquaintances such as Bakamus, Riccardo Fois, TJ Benson and Ken Nakagawa.

Earlier this season, a small group of Arizona staffers went back through video clips of Gonzaga’s national championship loss to North Carolina, analyzing how the Bulldogs defended certain actions, looking at what was successful and what wasn’t.

Karnowski: “We were trying to see some of the pick-and-roll defense, but we ended up watching the whole game. It felt like someone put a dagger in my heart and twisted it. But trust me, it still hurts. It still hurts, but it’s in the past and I can’t really do anything about it. … I just hate that game, I just wasn’t making shots.”

Mathews: “It was heartbreaking, but to know we made it that far was also a major source of enjoyment for us. Not in the moment, but now it is.”


What ifs

A No. 1 seed all but guaranteed. Potential first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games in Spokane. Seniors determined to make one more go at the national title game. Everything seemed to be aligning for the 2019-20 Zags.

Gonzaga won the WCC Tournament in Vegas and got the news less than 24 hours later, courtesy of a notification on Corey Kispert’s cellphone while the team was flying home to Spokane.

As a result of the impending COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 tournament wouldn’t go on as planned, signaling the end of GU’s season. The Bulldogs got home and met at Kispert’s house the next day for barbecue and card games – their last formal gathering as a group before seniors Killian Tillie, Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge left campus.

Will Graves (guard, 2019-22): “That was pretty crazy, I’ve never felt that close to a group of guys. That day was pretty special for us. We all hung out, played card games because it was pretty much over.”

Matthew Lang (guard, 2018-22): “It was tough to swallow, for sure, especially because we knew what we were capable of.”


Indy, part one

Even perfection comes with its hurdles.

Gonzaga’s 2020-21 season wasn’t always smooth sailing, despite how it might have appeared on paper. Multiple players came down with COVID-19 in the preseason and during the early stages of nonconference play.

Lang, a walk-on guard, was infected before top-ranked Gonzaga was supposed to play second-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5 in Indianapolis – months before the Bulldogs and Bears met in the same city for the national title.

Lang: “Some of the dudes actually got COVID in Florida, but it wasn’t enough for us to cancel games at that point. But one more dude and we’re going to have to call it. I was that next guy in Indianapolis.”

Lang and an assistant coach were forced to quarantine in the city for 10 more days while the rest of the team returned to Spokane. Benson, the team’s director of operations at the time, also stayed back to help.

Lang: “Before they left, everybody came by my room and said their goodbyes. … It was pretty brutal.”

‘Bombing mission’

A WCC game at Pacific was added to the schedule at a moment’s notice, forcing the Zags to fly to Stockton, play a game the same day, then return home later that night.

Graves: “It was end of the season, no one wanted to go to Stockton. No one. It was the definition of a trap game and we flew in the same day. We were just like, bombing mission.”

Trap game, indeed. The unbeaten Zags trailed the four-win Tigers at halftime, but surged late to win 76-58.

Graves: “I just remember Tommy (Lloyd) being like, in the huddle, ‘… Let’s just win by one … point.’ We were fired up.”

Bubble memories …

Months after his 10-day quarantine, got another extended stay in Indy, spending roughly a month with the Zags as they made their run to the national championship game.

Lang: “When we were in the bubble, a lot of us, me included, had a view of a wall. So it was almost worse at that point because then you really feel like you’re in jail.”

Players were allowed see family members, but only through a fence.

Lang: “That was when it was like, are we really in jail right now?”

Gonzaga players did their best to stick to daily routines throughout the month spent inside the NCAA bubble.

Graves: “We’d be like kids, screaming at the TV till like 2 a.m. playing video games. Fewie was the room across from us and he’d always tell us to shut up, go to bed. We were like, ‘Sorry dude, this is how we do it at home, so we’re not going to switch it up here.’ ”

Ben Gregg (forward, 2020-present): “I loved it, actually. We were by ourselves, but we were by ourselves the whole school year anyway. … I remember me and Andrew (Nembhard) playing FIFA every night, just trying to kill time. It was a crazy time.”

… and bubbly rumors

Was there any truth to the rumors, spread by Baylor forward Mark Vital, that Gonzaga had ordered six cases of champagne prior to an 86-70 loss in the championship game?

If it happened, players weren’t necessarily clued in.

Lang: “It could’ve happened, but it wasn’t something the players knew or people were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got champagne after the game.’ ”

Graves: “I heard that rumor, but I can’t confirm that. I never heard of anything like that.”


‘No soft guys’

Drew Timme takeovers became a fairly common occurrence during the forward’s last three years at Gonzaga, but his most iconic might have come in the second half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game against Memphis.

Before delivering 21 points after halftime, the outspoken junior forward delivered a memorable speech in the locker room with Gonzaga staring at a 10-point deficit.

Lang: “At that point of his career, he was definitely getting more vocal and I can’t remember exactly what he said, but he said, ‘All right guys, enough is enough. Our journey’s not ending here tonight.’ He lived up to it and took over.”

Graves: “If Drew was on your team that day, you weren’t going to lose. He was going to figure out a way. He was hitting some shots I’ve never seen him shoot before. Like turnaround, Dirk (Nowitzki) bank. He was pulling it all out. That was sweet.”

In a viral postgame television interview, Timme shared a censored version of the halftime speech he gave to the team.

Graves: “Then he had the iconic postgame interview, we were talking about it on the bus on the way home. He was loving it.”