Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few has established himself as one of the most successful coaches in NCAA Division I basketball annals in his 15 seasons at the helm, and in the process has made Bulldog basketball a household name across the country. He served as an assistant coach at GU for 10 seasons prior to take the reins of the program.
Entering the 2014-15 Season, Few:
• Is the winningest active coach by percentage at .801 (403-100), leading legendary coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina at .792 percent (724-190 in 26 years).
• Is tied for 17th for fastest to 100 wins in Division win, accomplishing the feat in 126 games.
• Is third fastest to 200 wins, reaching the milestone in 247 games
• Is tied for sixth fastest to 300 wins, achieving his 300th win in his 347th game.
• Is fifth fastest to 400 wins, achieving the milestone in 499 games
• Ranks ninth in winning percentage after five seasons at .806 (133-32) and six seasons .811 (159-37); sixth after seven seasons at .821 (188-41); seventh after eight seasons .802 (211-52); seventh after 10 seasons .800 (264-66); sixth for 11 seasons .799 (291-73); ninth after 12 seasons .792 (316-83); ninth after 13 seasons .792 (342-90), fourth after 14 seasons at .801 (374-93) and sixth after 15 seasons at .801 (403-100)
• Ranks second for most wins after two seasons (52-16); fourth for three seasons (81-20); third for four seasons (105-29) and five seasons (133-32); second for six seasons (159-37); first for seven seasons (188-41); fourth for eight seasons (211-52) and nine seasons (236-60); third for 10 seasons (266-64), 11 seasons (291-73) and 12 seasons (316-83), second for 13 seasons (342-90) and second for 14 seasons (374-93) and 15 seasons (403-100).
• Is in the Top 15 among active Division I coaches for most 20-win seasons with 15, Few never having won less than 20 games in a season.
• Is tied for fifth for most consecutive 20-win seasons for active coaches with 15.
The Bulldogs made a 16th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, a streak that started when Few was an assistant coach in 1999 and currently ranks the Zags tied for fourth among current active streaks behind Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. When Dan Monson departed for the University of Minnesota following that Elite Eight season, Few was named head coach and has continued the streak the past 15 years.
Few has put together one of the most dominating runs in NCAA history, especially in the West Coast Conference. The Zags have won or shared 14 regular season league titles in his 15 seasons (all but the 2011-12 season) and taken home the conference tournament championship 11 times. The Bulldogs won or shared 11 straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles from 2000-11, which was the longest current active streak in the nation at the time and the second-best streak all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks behind UCLA’s 13 Pacific-10 Conference titles from 1967-79.
Few has led Gonzaga to four Sweet 16 appearances (2000, ’00, ’06, ’09), coached eight All-Americans, six Academic All-Americans, more than 64 all-conference selections, 10 WCC Players of the Year, five league newcomers of the year and five league defenders of the year. Few has also cultivated NBA talent, including current NBA players in Kelly Olynyk, Austin Daye, Rob Sacre and Ronny Turiaf. He also helped recruit and develop Dan Dickau, Richie Frahm, Adam Morrison, Jeremy Pargo and Elias Harris, all NBA players. Morrison became the highest-drafted player in GU history when he was taken No. 3 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.
In 2013-14, Few’s Bulldogs again reigned supreme in the West Coast Conference, sweeping the WCC regular season and conference tournament titles for the 11th time in his tenure. GU put together a record of 29-7, including a 15-3 league mark on the way to the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAAs, the eighth-seeded Bulldogs took down ninth-seeded Oklahoma State before falling to top-seeded Arizona in the Round of 32. The 2013-14 campaign saw the Bulldogs advance to the WCC Tournament title game for the 17th consecutive year, ahead of Kentucky for the all-time lead as the Wildcats advanced to 14 successive SEC Tournament title games from 1939-52.
Gonzaga finished the 2012-13 season 32-3, hitting the 30-win plateau for the first time in school history, and the 11th time in Few’s 13 years as head coach the Bulldogs had single-digit losses. The Bulldogs were finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 and received their inaugural No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament where GU defeated Southern University in the Second Round, the 11th time in Few’s head coaching tenure the Bulldogs have won at least one game in the tourney.
Few has evolved Bulldog basketball into an annual participant in the NCAA Tournament and into one of the elite programs on the West Coast as well as nationally. Since 1992 — his first year as a fulltime assistant coach with the Bulldogs — Gonzaga has posted a 540-171 record for a .759 winning percentage. UCLA is the only other West Coast school to crack the .700 plateau.
But success has been his trademark since taking over the head reigns for the 2000 season.
With Few at the helm, the 2006 season marked the best campaign in the 100-plus year history of Bulldog basketball, the squad rolling to a 29-4 record, including a second 14-0 WCC campaign in three seasons. With national Player of the Year candidate Adam Morrison leading the nation in scoring, Few and the Bulldogs finished fifth in the final Associated Press Top 25 in ‘06, claimed a No. 3 seed into the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time under Few. All of that came following the 2005 season in which Few guided the Bulldogs to 10th in the final AP Top 25.
He is one of only two coaches to lead a team into the Sweet 16 in their first two years as a head coach since the bracket was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. While Few continued Gonzaga’s string of postseason success, there are some individual player honors he looks to with pride.
Morrison, recognized as much for his diabetes as for his ability to score, became the first Bulldog since Frank Burgess in 1961 to lead the nation in scoring at 28.1 ppg. Morrison was a household name across the country and he was up for every major Player of the Year award in the country, sharing the Oscar Robertson Trophy with Duke University’s J.J. Redick, and winning the CBS Chevrolet Player of the Year. Morrison was taken as the third pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, making him the highest Gonzaga player ever drafted.
Ronny Turiaf is another player that Few looks to with pride as Turiaf earned his second straight AP honorable mention accolade in 2005 and joined with then-sophomore Morrison to give the Bulldogs two players with AP All-America recognition in the same season for the second straight season. Blake Stepp was a second-team AP All-American in 2004 in addition to being a John R. Wooden Award Top 10 All-America pick.
Kelly Olynyk received Morrison-like stature in 2013 as he transformed his game and his body in a redshirt season of 2012 to become one of the dominant big men in 2013. Olynyk’s achievements read like an honor roll and include multiple Player of the Year, All-America and Academic All-America awards.
Few, who in such a relatively young career as a head coach is mentioned in the same breath with some of the more veteran coaches patrolling the sidelines, has also accomplished plenty of “firsts” since taking over the reins for the 1999-2000 season. Dan Dickau became Gonzaga’s inaugural selection to the Associated Press All-America first team in 2002, and also was tabbed Gonzaga’s first John R. Wooden Award Top Five All-American.
The Bulldogs also cracked the Top 10 in the national polls for the first time in school history in 2002, finishing the season ranked sixth in the Associated Press Top 25. Gonzaga’s 29-4 record also set a single-season mark for victories, which was matched in 2006, then shattered in 2013 when the Zags went 32-3.
While Few has achieved nationwide acclaim on the court, he and his wife, Marcy, are also active in the Spokane community. Through the effort of the Fews; Chanelle Lloyd, wife of assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, and a strong local committee, Coaches vs. Cancer, an annual BasketBALL and Gala held at the historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane, has raised more than $5 million since its inception in 2002. Mark and Marcy were honored for their philanthropy in June, 2008, as recipients of the Nell and John Wooden Coaching Achievement Award by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame based in Boise, Idaho. The award, begun in 2003, is presented to a coach, along with his or her spouse, who has made exceptional contributions to their community as well as their players and their futures.
A 10-year Gonzaga assistant head coach, Few was named head coach July 26, 1999, following Monson’s departure for the University of Minnesota. Few originally joined the Bulldogs for the 1989-90 season as a graduate assistant under former head coach Dan Fitzgerald, then was promoted to a fulltime assistant for the 1991-92 season. He was named associate head coach in April of 1999 following a season in which the Bulldogs became the basketball darlings of the nation on their March run which saw Gonzaga come within a few ticks of the clock of advancing to the Final Four. A loss to eventual national champion University of Connecticut in the West Regional Finals in Phoenix, Ariz., ended the Cinderella story that captured basketball fans from coast to coast.
Few and his wife Marcy, married in 1994, became parents with the arrival of Austin James (A.J.) (2000); followed by the arrival of Joseph Dillon (2002), Julia Ann Elizabeth (2006) and Colt Walker Norman (2009). The Fews’ wedding was more special because Rev. Norm Few, father of the groom, officiated.