Posted on: September 1, 2010 12:19 pm
I have a column about BYU's decision to play men's basketball in the West Coast Conference that'll be posted a little later on today, but the column focuses less on BYU than it does on what BYU's move will mean for Gonzaga. The gist of the column is about how Mark Few couldn't be more excited, not only because of how it will bring another high-profile program into the league, but also because of what it could mean for the rest of the WCC.
It's no secret that one of the reasons Gonzaga has dominated the WCC is because no other conference school is committed to basketball the way Gonzaga is committed to basketball, and the addition of BYU will only widen that gap. What Few hopes is that opposing administrations recognize this reality, and that they start investing appropriately out of fear of falling further behind.
"In the past people [in the WCC] would go to their administrations and ask for things, and they'd hear 'That's not how we do things in this league. It's just how Gonzaga does things,'" Few said. "But now it's like, 'Well no, it's not. It's how Gonzaga and BYU do things. So you've got to step it up.'"
Whether other WCC members actually step it up remains to be seen
But if they don't, this much is clear: They won't be playing for second anymore.
They'll instead be playing annually for third, at best.
Posted on: March 25, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 8:45 pm
HOUSTON -- Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice has accepted an offer to be Boise State's basketball coach, a source close to Rice confirmed to CBSSports.com.
An official announcement is expected Friday.
This development is interesting on a larger scale because it suggests Mark Few doesn't plan to leave Gonzaga -- even though he's clearly a candidate at Oregon -- because Rice would've likely been Few's successor, and it's doubtful he would've taken the Boise State job if he thought Few was leaving. In other words, Gonzaga's loss of an assistant is also the first real sign that its head coach intends to stay.
Posted on: February 26, 2010 2:45 pm
Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Seriously? You submit a list of 30 candidates for Coach of the Year, and Mark Few doesn't even make the list? He lost four players from last year who are playing professional ball somewhere right now, has had to integrate numerous freshmen into the rotation, and Gonzaga is still playing at a high level and being successful. Seriously?
I messed up.
No question, Mark Few should be on the list.
In fact, I'm emailing the folks in charge of the Naismith Coach of the Year award right now and altering my ballot. I'll take somebody off and insert Few, who seems to be a victim of my absent mind and his consistent winning. It's to the point where you just expect Gonzaga to be good. All the time. And that makes you -- and by you , I mean people like me -- overlook the fact that the Zags are 22-5 and ranked 18th nationally despite losing four of their top five scorers from last season's team.
Not sure why I overlooked it this week considering I wrote about it last month.
(Click this link to read that column)
But I did overlook it.
And I was wrong to do so.
And because it's not too late to fix it, I'm going to fix it right now.
Posted on: April 1, 2009 7:59 pm
DETROIT -- Ernie Kent owes Mark Few a Thank You card.
As you might've read, Kent will be retained as Oregon's basketball coach, but sources told CBSSports.com that the job was Few's if he wanted it. In other words, had Few told Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny that he would leave Gonzaga for Oregon, Kilkenny would've fired Kent and hired Few. As it is, Few made it clear that he was only interested in staying at Gonzaga or possibly moving to Arizona, so Oregon announced on Wednesday that it's retaining Kent, who really owes Few in a big way.
Thirty percent of his salary sounds about right.
Posted on: April 1, 2009 1:28 pm
Arizona's coaching search is now centered on Gonzaga's Mark Few.
Posted on: January 7, 2009 3:31 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2009 3:32 pm
Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: No, Gary. I don't think UConn's A.J. Price was (the problem) for the Zags. I blame Mark Few, the Zags' coach. With 12 seconds to go in regulation and with a three-point lead against the No. 2 team at that time in the country, YOU FOUL THEM. Never let them get a 3-point shot off. Let them make two free throws. You are still one point ahead with the ball. I just don't understand why more basketball coaches don't foul with a three-point lead and under 15 seconds. I turn to you, Gary, to shed some light on this. I have seen more teams in recent years not foul, have the other team tie the game with a 3-pointer and then lose in overtime! Am I missing something?
No, Jim, you are not missing something.
Seriously, I can see both sides of pretty much everything, but the up-three-in-the-final-seconds/you-s
So I'm with you, Jim.
Up three in the final seconds, I'm for fouling every time. It should be a universally accepted strategy -- just like walking a guy with first base open to set up a doubleplay is in baseball.
Posted on: November 12, 2008 12:46 pm
Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: How do you see this mess at Arizona working out? Are they going to be able to land a top-notch coach at the end of the season and stop the bleeding? There are some absurd names being tossed around. Who would be on your list?
Of course, the bleeding can be stopped.
But it's going to be a lot like the Indiana situation.
Again, the timing of Lute Olson's retirement was a killer; it'll have a lasting effect. But I imagine Tom Crean will get Indiana turned around in a span of three years, and Arizona could easily be turned around that quickly as well if the right guy is hired.
Who is that guy?
As I've written before -- like five minutes after Olson retired -- the two obvious candidates are Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Gonzaga's Mark Few. Granted, both are in good spots right now and might not see the need to bolt. But I genuinely believe at least one of them would move for the right money if the circumstances were perfect. So Arizona would be silly not to shoot for the top, see what happens and go from there.
Posted on: October 24, 2008 6:42 am
Edited on: October 24, 2008 2:21 pm
Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: How about a list of coaches or your views on who Arizona may consider to replace Lute Olson? ... I think Tennessee's Bruce Pearl would be a good candidate (after he buys a suit).
A Kentucky fan trying to get Pearl out of the SEC East, huh?
You sneaky devil you.
Seriously, what Pearl has done at Tennessee in three seasons is remarkable, so you'll get no argument from me about whether he'd be good at Arizona. But as I said minutes after Thursday's news came down, the two obvious top candidates to replace Olson on a permanent basis should be Gonzaga's Mark Few and Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon.
Would either come right now?
No, not at this minute.
Both have Final Four-caliber teams and neither would relocate less than two weeks before Arizona's first exhibition. So what that means is that the Wildcats will likely use an interim this season (it'll be assistant Russ Pennell, according to a source) and then conduct a national search that should start and stop with Few or Dixon.
You want some other possibilities?
VCU's Anthony Grant would be intriguing, as would Washington State's Tony Bennett. And if athletic director Jim Livengood wanted to "keep it in the family" he could tab former Arizona player and assistant Josh Pastner, who is now at Memphis. Obviously, Pastner is only 31 and without head coaching experience. But if you think he's going to be good (and just about everybody does) then why not go for it if you are compelled to move quickly and strongly?
I mean, Billy Donovan was 28 when he got his first head coaching gig.
John Calipari was 29.
Those two have done OK, haven't they?
But again, I'm just throwing out Grant, Bennett and Pastner as back-up plans, because the first two options should be Few and Dixon. Both are experienced and proven winners with west-coast ties (Few has been in the WCC forever and is from Oregon; Dixon is from the Los Angeles-area and assisted Ben Howland at Northern Arizona in the mid-1990s) and still young enough (Few is 45, Dixon 42) to where it's reasonable to think they'll be going strong for at least another 15 years. And, yes, I honestly believe one of them (if not both) would accept an offer after this season under certain circumstances because they will both be facing revamped rosters in 2009-10, making it an ideal time to leave if they were ever going to leave (Gonzaga will lose Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and perhaps Austin Daye after this season; Pitt will lose Sam Young, Levance Fields and perhaps DeJuan Blair).
Now I know what you're thinking, Gonzaga and Pitt fans.
You're thinking that Few and Dixon have already turned down multiple opportunities to leave, that they love their jobs and wouldn't mind retiring from their current positions. I acknowledge all of that to be true. But you must understand Arizona is a different animal, one of the top 10 programs in America, and that it would be difficult for either to pass on this gig if they felt comfortable with the administration and received the money Arizona is capable of dishing out.
As for Few specifically, at what point does he become bored killing folks in the WCC? You’ve got to think he'll want to try something new at some point, and Arizona would be a great situation, about as good a situation as would ever present itself. So those would be the reasons for Few to leave Gonzaga, to face a new challenge and see if he can run one of the nation's power programs.
And trust me, he'd be great at Arizona.
But so would Dixon.
And to the Pitt fans who have already emailed to inform me that if Dixon was in a hurry to get back west he would've taken the California job after last season, I'll just ask whether you ever considered whether it's possible Dixon rejected California because he knew Arizona would be opening soon? It would be crazy to take the Cal job if you thought you could get Arizona a year or two later, wouldn't it? And as I pointed out in Thursday's column, nobody in basketball circles really thought Olson was going to last more than one more year, meaning it's pretty safe to assume Dixon saw this day coming and has long known he'd be an obvious candidate.
Anyway, that's my long answer to a short question.
Arizona should hire an interim coach, get through this season and then pursue Few or Dixon.
Assuming the Wildcats could get one of them, the program would be set for 15 years.
And then these tumultuous times would seem like a distant memory.