The United States as a whole has always had an undying fascination with college and professional sports. Every American has a favorite sport and team from Major league baseball to the NFL to college basketball and the NBA. For most of the locals in Spokane, that favorite is the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball team. Most locals would agree that catching a game in the kennel is Spokane’s Favorite Pastime.
Gonzaga Basketball History
Gonzaga Basketball got it’s start in 1907, when the school first introduced the sport. The popularity of the program has increased ever since. In the early years, the team was good. However, it wasn’t till 1944 that they started regularly earning season titles. For the next 50 years, Gonzaga continued winning titles and in 1994, they qualified for their first post season tournament. The team continued to garner attention throughout the 90’s.
The Cinderella Run
In 1995, the team made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. In 1999, the Zags led by Dan Monson, made their “Cinderella” run to the Elite Eight. A Cinderella team is one that wasn’t supposed to make it to the “big dance” (a name often used to describe March Madness). The team beat out Minnesota, Stanford, and Florida and trailed Connecticut (the eventual champion) by one point in the Elite Eight Round.
Ever since, the “Cinderella Team” has maintained it’s place in the hearts of locals. If you drive down Hamilton street you’ll see businesses painted with life-size murals of the team. On any given game night, you can find fans at just about any Spokane restaurant catching the game with friends. Additionally, the McCarthy Athletic center, fondly known as the Kennel, is packed for every game. Not only are the stands packed but season passes are usually snatched up long before the season begins. If you’re lucky if you might be able to find single game tickets available on rare occasions during the season. It would be an understatement to say the house is packed for every game.
The Mark Few Years
Since 1999, Mark Few (named coach of the year in 2019) has led the team to repeated WCC conference titles and a place in the NCAA tournament year after year.
Last year, the team made a spectacular run to the Elite Eight in March Madness. The team is continuously ranked as one of the top teams in the country. Not only has the team been successful in college ball, but numerous Zags players are now playing in the NBA including last year’s favorite’s Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clark.
2019/2020 Basketball Season
Despite the loss of some of its star players, this year’s team has already started off the year with a bang. The Zags are currently holding a 4-0 winning streak. Spokane watches and waits eagerly for the chance to see the Zags in March Madness again with the potential that the team will be playing in the Spokane arena. Whether experiencing the game up close in the kennel or watching it at home, any locals can tell you that a Zag’s game is probably Spokane’s favorite pastime. Will you be keeping tabs on the Zags this season?