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Underdogs No More
Kelli Anderson
March 30, 2009
A decade after it crashed the Big Dance as a charming Cinderella, Gonzaga is the envy of every mid-major program in the country
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March 30, 2009

Underdogs No More

A decade after it crashed the Big Dance as a charming Cinderella, Gonzaga is the envy of every mid-major program in the country

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By sticking around, Few enjoys a benefit he imagines his colleagues who bounce from job to job probably miss. "Corey Violette [class of '04] was in my office on Tuesday," says Few. "Blake Stepp ['04] comes by, Ronny Turiaf ['05] has been at about half our games the last few weeks. Seeing players come back and staying in touch with them is the coolest part of my job."

A number of former players live in Spokane. "That's one thing that makes this program so great; everyone comes back," says senior guard Micah Downs, who transferred to Gonzaga after one semester at Kansas and is still the only McDonald's All-American to play for the program. "Sometimes guys like Matt Santangelo, Casey Calvary and Corey Violette will scrimmage with us. They really help us out because they are big and strong and they play really hard."

When they aren't schooling the youngsters, the alums are going at each other. Several former Zags gather most Sundays to play pickup ball at the Warehouse, a basketball court complex owned by one of their tribe, John Stockton ('84). "Mostly we foul each other a lot," says Santangelo, now a financial adviser in town.

Though some might dispute Santangelo's claim that those scrimmages are "the best games in town," the battles are in some ways as important a measure of the program's success as a Final Four appearance or a national title would be. "You're winning conference championships and tournament games, your guys are graduating and having successful lives," says Few. "And they're coming back. It sounds corny, so mom-and-pop, but it doesn't get any better than that."

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