Damn Few. With him at the helm, GU will never challenge Kansas, Arizona, UConn, Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Louisville or Kentucky for national dominance or a national championship. 20, 25, or even 30 win seasons don’t mean anything if you aren’t going deep into the tournament in March. He’s just not getting the best out of his players, not a good X’s and O’s guy, doesn’t know how to use athletic players or can’t develop them if he does have them. Don’t let GU’s winning percentage, consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, or WCC Championships fool you, GU would be much better off with a different coach.
GU needs another coach like Hank Anderson. Anderson coached at GU for 21 seasons, from 1951 to 1972. Must have been really successful to have such a long tenure right? Well, Hank was 290 – 275 (.513) so he did win more games than he lost. He must have had some tough post season losses then right? Well, Hank’s teams never made it to the post season in his 21 years. He did have one 20 win season and won the Big Sky regular season title twice. Maybe another Hank wouldn’t be the answer.
How about Dan Fitzgerald, some of us remember him. Dan did coach at Gonzaga for 14 seasons, had a .596 winning percentage, including 119 – 93 (.514) against conference opponents. He won the WCC twice, went to the NIT twice, and even led Gonzaga to its first NCAA tourney game, a 24 point first round loss to Maryland. Unfortunately, the year Dan "retired", Gonzaga got hit with a four year NCAA probation for not declaring a $200K recruiting slush fund. It wasn’t a lose scholarships, tourney ban probation, just a "do it again and then the hammer down probation." Not sure what that extra money was used for, but when Fitzgerald left, he did leave a team that included guys named Calvary, Frahm, Santangelo, Dench and Hall.
Which brings us to Dan Monson, he could surely fix this team and the situation. After all, didn’t Monson lead GU to its greatest glory with the players he inherited from Fitzgerald? It couldn’t have been one of those "mid-major gets a magical bunch of players together for a one-time deep tourney runs, then fades to obscurity" situations could it? We’ll never know because Monson went on to greener pastures at Minnesota. Dan wasn’t as successful at Minnesota 118–106 (.527), in conference 44–68 (.393). Yeah, but that’s the big boys, Monson would kill it at another mid=major right? Yes and no, he did rebuild a crappy Long Beach State team and in six years went to 2 NITs and a first round NCAA loss, but at 113 -102 (.526) and 11 – 13 this year, Monson may not be the answer. This ain’t a knock on Monson because he is a great coach who’s taken 3 different teams to the NCAA tournament. It just shows how low the standards of the Long Beach State administration and fans are; continuing to employ a coach who doesn’t win his conference or make the NCAA tournament every year.
Thanks to that damn Few, we can take 25 win seasons and WCC championships for granted. We can bitch about not getting far enough in the NCAA tournament to satisfy the fan base because making the tournament is so damn easy. That’s what Few has done, make winning look so easy the fan base can concentrate on 4 losses instead of 21 wins. We can disregard a 32 win season, a historical #1 national ranking, 16 – 0 in the WCC and just say how poor we are because we have just average success in the NCAA tournament. No one bitches when the GU baseball team blows it last couple of games and fails to make the NCAA tournament like they did last year, they just focus on basketball and that’s Mark Few’s fault.
It’s sure as hell Few’s fault the WCC is getting better players. Dominating the conference has caused the other schools to recruit harder and draw in more international talent. St. Mary’s sure transformed itself so they could be mentioned in the same breath as Gonzaga when referring to the WCC.
Wouldn’t a good coach put his team in positions to win big games? So what if GU was up on UCLA by 9 with 3 minutes to play. He allowed Morrison, Ravio and Batista to take the key shots down the stretch. So what if GU went +21 on Wichita State, from 13 down to up 8, he allowed his best perimeter defender to get hurt and Wichita played five minutes of perfect basketball. Weren’t they up 12 on Memphis? Some would say it’s the player’s responsibility to execute in those tough situations. It was Few’s fault for not playing Nunez and Coleman. Imagine continuing to play the guys who got him that 12 point lead. Everyone knows Nunez and Coleman don’t take bad shots, turn the ball over, or get beat on defense.
Some might even say Gonzaga isn’t always one of the most talented teams in the county, even less talented than those teams mentioned in the first paragraph. The small guards, lack of depth, skilled but not athletic players. So what if an Indiana loses Zeller and Oladipo and sits at 14 – 9 and 4 – 6 in the big 10, Gonzaga should be able to lose Olynyk, Harris, Hart, and Edi and march into Memphis and K-State and win those games. I’ve even heard some guys think Few might be taking this year’s team farther than anyone else could considering the losses from last year, the injuries and the illness. Some people.
Nope, when you talk about GU basketball you can’t consider the less than stellar past, how far the program has come, or how well they do against similar schools. You can’t consider any impediments to recruiting; small Catholic school, geography and sparse local population, cold and snow, white supremacists and MLK day parade bombers, 6000 seat arena, ect, ect. You can’t even consider the fact Gonzaga probably has the county’s best, most consistent "mid-major" program. Few will never have this team on par with Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas. Gee, I wonder realistically if anyone, really anyone could………..Damn Few.