“Thin Line Between Heaven and Here.”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2011 by La Rev

Reminder: This is the final column of the season.  Don’t forget to follow La Rev on Twitter throughout the Tournament and on Facebook for updates on the column’s future.

“Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a ground ball, you get a ground ball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.” –Crash Davis

LeBron James is such a bum, huh?  He keeps getting the ball in key late-game situations and he keeps failing.  I think he might not have “it” in him.  His blood’s just not cold enough.  In the NBA, you’ve got to have that ice blood.  You’ve got to be that ice-blooded killer in the clutch, and LeBron’s just not that player.  At least that’s what the guys on TV keep saying.  I mean, what are the Heat in last-second shots, 1-19?  They’ve been terrible against the top five teams in the League, so LeBron must not be clutch.  He must not have “it.”  It’s weird, though, because I swear I remember him being the only good player on a Cavs team that went to the Finals in 2007.  I kind of feel like he hit some big shots, game winners even, in the 2009 Playoffs, too.  That was what, two years ago?  LeBron couldn’t have lost “it” already, could he?  The line can’t be that thin, can it?

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Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2011 by La Rev

Note: Next week’s column will be the last of the season.

“Money ain’t got no owners, only spenders.” –Omar Little

In the 1930s, University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins waged a personal war against the encroachment into American universities of what he called “athleticism.” Under the belief that certain sports (particularly football) were cash cows, universities overemphasized athletics until they stopped being mere recreation and become institutions (or isms) instead. Hutchins felt this left universities woefully misguided. Teams were popular with students and the public who filled stadiums every Saturday, and university presidents soon found themselves believing their schools were noteworthy not because of academic reputation but because of their sports teams. “Athleticism” turned the primary business of the university into that of sports promotion in an attempt to draw more and more paying fans. In an article in the Saturday Evening Post entitled “Gate Receipts and Glory,” Hutchins suggested that university presidents had watched athleticism grow over the previous fifty years but did nothing about it. Spectator sports like football simply brought too much money to the table for universities to just run away, so Hutchins offered a solution. Since money causes athleticism and all the misguidance that goes along with it, “the cure is to take the money out of athletics.”( To do this, he proposed to, among other things, universally cap football ticket prices at ten cents each.  Needless to say, it didn’t happen so Chicago decided instead to go its own way and just drop football entirely.)  I agree with Hutchins that money is the problem with college sports, but my solution isn’t to take the money out, but rather to spread it around, particularly amongst those doing the most work: the players.

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The Legend of Theo Davis Bol Kong Gary Bell, Jr.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 by La Rev

“I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman!” –Homer Simpson

You remember Theo Davis?  He was this big recruit and a big guy and everyone at GUBoards got so obsessed with him but couldn’t say his name because of some rule or something so they cleverly named him Bigs McGee and referred to him as Bigs McGee instead of Theo Davis and they all knew that he was a combo between Ronny Turiaf and Shaq and everyone agreed he was going to be great and nobody could wait for him to finally get on campus and lead the Zags to twenty bazillion national titles?  You remember that?  And you remember Bol Kong?  He was, like, this superhuman who could score from all over the court and had a funny name that everyone at GUBoards cleverly turned into a “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” call (Get it? Like when King Kong stomps around because Bol Kong’s last name is Kong?) that got them excited and they all knew that he was a combo between Adam Morrison and God and everyone agreed he was going to be great and nobody could wait for him to finally get on campus and lead the Zags to twenty bazillion more national titles?  You remember that?  And then you remember when neither player lasted more than a season at Gonzaga?  Each got ran off for one reason or another, and neither lived up to even one one-billionth of the crazy unrealistic expectations crazy unrealistic Zag fans heaped upon them? That was awesome.

Hey, look!  It’s Gary Bell, Jr.!

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Sam Dower, “The Rotation,” and You

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2011 by La Rev

Editor’s Note: The column’s taking a two-week vacation.  Come back Friday, February 25, for the first of the final three columns of the season.

“You just got lesson number one.  Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.” –Crash Davis

In case you missed the raining frogs and sulfuric fireballs signaling the Apocalypse, Saint Mary’s beat the Zags in the Kennel last Thursday, all but ending the latter’s decade-long control of WCC regular seasons and essentially locking up this season’s title for themselves.  That Manny Arop and Mathis Keita never even found the floor during the most important game of the season (and depending on how things shake out, maybe the most important regular season one in program history) rightly confused Zag fans, as did the fact that Sam Dower and his sudden Adrian Dantley impression hadn’t been getting serious time all season.  And all the confusion apparently compelled Spokesman-Review sports columnist John Blanchette to write a column.  It was much anticipated, but in large, I don’t think we really learned anything new.  Underclassmen struggle to get playing time in Mark Few’s system?  Knew that.  Outside of the starting five and maybe the first guy off the bench, the rest of the team struggles to get minutes as well?  Knew that.  Sometimes a guy plays a lot, the next game he doesn’t play at all?  Knew that, too.  To me, this whole thing has very little to do with “the rotation,” no matter how confusing it is that it seems to be chosen by drawing names from a hat.  (Besides, anyone who watched the Zags lose to Steph Curry and Davidson in the 2007 Tourney while Micah Downs played only seven minutes knows the rotation didn’t just start being confusing.)  No, what worries me the most is the fact that Mark Few’s playing-time philosophy as described in the Blanchette piece doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for error.  And unfortunately, this season, we might be seeing that chance become a reality.

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Rage Against the Machine

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2011 by La Rev

“Dissent and protest are divisive, but in a good way, because they represent accurately the real divisions in society.” –Howard Zinn

When I first thought of relaunching the blog in a weekly column format, I did so because I thought the way we talk about Gonzaga basketball, the Great Zag Discussion if you will, was really one-sided, really happy-go-lucky, and really reactionary.  Largely to blame (maybe entirely to blame) is the GUBoards message board and the near complete monopoly it has over that discussion.  (To put things in perspective, at any one time, individual posts routinely get over 1,000 page views within a few hours of being posted.  The highest number of page views this column has ever had on any single day is 190.)  I’ve long been an outspoken opponent of this monopoly under the argument that discussion should never be monopolized, especially not on a Gonzaga discussion board.  After all, the university once called its students “the people the world needs most” and now urges them to “be inspired.”  It requires those students to take a core curriculum based on critical thinking and reasoning, and the least we can do as fans is have discussions about the Zags that reflect that educational goal.  Largely, though, GUBoards has failed to do that since its inception nearly a decade ago.  And this week, as news broke that Matt Bouldin tested positive for a banned substance and was released from his Greek team, the moderators again showed that they are all too willing to control the direction of a discussion they’ve already monopolized.  When someone put up a post with a link to Howie Stalwick’s story on Bouldin’s case, it was promptly moved to an out-of-the-way location where it would be nearly impossible to find.  And that’s where it is still, even now that KREM2 News in Spokane confirms that Bouldin used an over-the-counter nasal spray he bought in the US and is not even banned by the NBA.  The fear is, I guess, that people will immediately rush to judgment or start in with a slew of theories and that wouldn’t be fair to Matt Bouldin or his situation.  That’s probably true, but then again, if an environment of adult discussion was cultivated at GUBoards from the start, one that encouraged people to use their brains and pose new ideas and reconsider old ones, nobody would have to be so afraid.

GUBoards has always been a poor reflection of our human intellegence, and this is just another example of why it’s a poor reflection of Gonzaga as well.  How are we supposed to talk about the Zags like the people the world needs most if the ones in charge of the discussion won’t even let us try?  Zag fans, you’re better than this, and you’re better than GUBoards.

I’m ending this week’s column here out of protest.

Go Zags.

Race and the Gonzaga Basketball Fan

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 by La Rev

“I’ve been wonderin’ why/People livin’ in fear/Of my shade/Or my hi-top fade.” –Public Enemy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Gonzaga fans’ tendency to use an intangible (leadership) to rate players (namely at the time, Steven Gray).  It is unfair, in my mind, to decide a player’s worth based on something that is both unmeasurable and completely subjective.  So no, I didn’t think leadership mattered when I defended Steven Gray against the Leadership Police back then, and I don’t think it matters now that it has somehow wriggled its way back into the Great Zag Discussion.  Just the other day, with timing that can best be described as baffling, a commenter on the Gonzaga hoops blog The Slipper Still Fits worried that the Zags didn’t have a leader.  How ever this is still anyone’s concern is beyond me, but I’ve railed against leadership’s validity for too long to do it again here.  But another issue became apparent from the ensuing comments: that Jeremy Pargo’s Gonzaga career has never been fully appreciated.

If you don’t remember, Pargo was a four-year point guard for the Zags.  He won West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors as a junior (and probably should have won it as a senior as well), and during his career, his teams won 103 regular season games and went to two Sweet Sixteens.  His resume is great, or at least as good as any other player in the Mark Few era, but during his career, I don’t think he was ever as beloved as the others who came before or after him.  Instead of thanking their lucky stars that Pargo took over games when everyone else on his team was all too willing to stand and watch, Zag fans called him a ball hog.  Instead of marveling at a player who could get to the rim and dunk on anyone, they called him a showboat when he ran back down the floor with his tongue hanging out.  Instead of cornily saying he has “Zag Hair” when he showed up for a Tournament game with his name cut into his hair, they wrote him off as a sort of anti-Zag with a me-first attitude.  So what, though?  Opinions are opinions, and there’s no rule saying Zag fans had to like Jeremy Pargo the player as much as I did.  But what happens when they start comparing Pargo’s career to those of other Zags and determine that the things they disliked about him were the exact things they liked about the other guys?  What if subjective terms such as leadership stop being just meaningless and become instead a window into ourselves?  Better yet, what if Jeremy Pargo was and is underappreciated because he’s black?

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The West Coast Conference Conundrum

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2011 by La Rev

“You can pay for school but you can’t buy class.” —Jay-Z

Now that the conference season is upon us, the Great Zag Discussion has naturally shifted to the present and future of the West Coast Conference.  I would like to carry on that discussion here by first posing a series of related questions:

  1. On February 16, 2002, Pepperdine visited The Kennel with a chance to both sweep the season series with the Zags and take a two-game lead for the regular season conference title.  Gonzaga won that game, in the end going away, and power in the WCC stayed fully in Spokane as Pepperdine’s program fell off the map.  Another consistently good team would obviously be great for the conference and to that end, has the level of competition in the West Coast Conference improved since that game?
  2. Brigham Young is set to join the WCC next season.  Conventional wisdom says that BYU will challenge Gonzaga at the top, and maybe be able to do so more consistently than any other program in the WCC.  Conventional wisdom also seems to assume that another team at the top of the conference can only be a good thing for those other programs.  (That is, another consistently good program is another good target towards which the other programs can aim.)  Does BYU’s presence mean an improvement in the conference overall?
  3. I think we all assume that a competitive WCC is good for Gonzaga.  Is it?

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