Head coach Mark Few, Gonzaga University men's basketball and success seem to go hand-in-hand.
And 2010 was no different on the success meter for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga captured a 10th straight West Coast Conference regular-season title and made a 12th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 as the Bulldogs were once again a player on the national stage. The 10 straight WCC regular-season titles is the longest current streak in the nation and ranks tied for fourth all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks, the Bulldogs knotting the University of Kentucky. His WCC record is 139-15, making him the active winningest coach in the WCC.
The Bulldogs advanced to the WCC Tournament title game for the 13th consecutive year, the second-longest streak of years making a final of a conference tournament among the current conference alignments. Kentucky advanced to 14 successive SEC Tournament title games from 1939-52, a record Few and the Bulldogs could match in 2011.
Another tough schedule saw the Bulldogs win the EA Sports Maui Invitational to put their name among the nation's elite early in the season. Gonzaga also played the likes of Michigan State University, Wake Forest University, Davidson College, Duke University, the University of Illinois and the University of Memphis on the way to a 27-7 record. Few has never not won at least 20 games in his 11 previous years as the head coach. For the 10th time in Few's 11 years on the bench the Bulldogs suffered only single-digit losses last season, Gonzaga's 23-11 record in 2007 the only time the Bulldogs have suffered double-digit losses under Few.
The 2010 season was capped with a No. 22 Associated press ranking and No. 23 ESPN/USA Today finish in the final polls.
The 2011 season will be his 12th as the head man after 10 years as an assistant at Gonzaga, his 22 years on the Gonzaga bench making him the longest tenured men's basketball coach in Bulldog history. Hank Anderson was the head coach for 21 seasons from 1951-52 to 1971-72.
The Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010, the Zags moving to the second round or beyond in eight of their 11 trips under Few's tutelage.
The continued success of 2010 followed on the heels of Few guiding the Bulldogs to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the fourth time in his head coaching tenure the Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. He was an assistant on the 1999 squad that made it to the Elite Eight. Along the way in 2009 the Bulldogs ran the table in the West Coast Conference with their third 14-0 campaign since 2004.
Few's career winning percentage of .799 makes him the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I, edging Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina who is at .798. Few brings a record of 291-73 into the 2011 campaign.
The Bulldogs finished the 2009 season with a 28-6 overall record. Gonzaga was ranked 10th in the final Associated Press Top 25 in 2009, the fifth Top 10 ranking for Few and the Bulldogs since 2002. 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 close to $5 million since its inception in 2002. The weekend features golf, black tie gala and auction with all of the proceeds staying locally with the American Cancer Society.
Mark and Marcy were honored for their philanthropy in June, 2008, as recipients of the Dell 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.
"To be honored for what you do away from the court, and to be honored with an award named after a truly outstanding couple like John and Dell Wooden is humbling," Few said. "When you look at the list of people who have won this award in its short existence, and when you look at the members of the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, it's like reading a Who's Who in sports. It is an honor to be associated with these legends."
But what Few has accomplished on the court is equally as humbling, evolving Bulldogs 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 460-147 record for a .758 winning percentage. UCLA (.704) 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 Sixteen in their first two years as a head coach since the bracket was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. While Few has 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.
Morrison shared the Oscar Robertson Trophy with Duke University's J.J. Redick, was named the CBS Chevrolet Player of the Year and was a close runner-up to Redick in the Associated Press, Naismith Award and John R. Wooden Award balloting for Player of the Year. He was a unanimous All-America selection on the AP first team. Morrison was taken as the third pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats making Morrison the highest Gonzaga player ever drafted and validating the job Few and his staff did in developing Morrison's skills.
Ronny Turiaf is another 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.
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 1999-00 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.
Gonzaga's name has also been called often in the NBA Draft. Dickau was a 2002 first-round choice of the Sacramento Kings, Richie Frahm went in the 2004 Expansion Draft to the Charlotte Bobcats and Stepp was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves that same year. Morrison became the highest-drafted player in Gonzaga history at No. 3 by the Bobcats in '06 and Austin Daye was the 15th overall selection of the Detroit Pistons in '09.
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.
A 10-year Gonzaga assistant head coach, Few was named head coach July 26, 1999, following Dan Monson's departure for the University of Minnesota.
Few 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 had been 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.
Former Gonzaga University President Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., and director of athletics Mike Roth didn't hesitate in rewarding Few for his long loyalty to Gonzaga.
"Mark had been an integral part of Gonzaga's success the last decade," Roth said. "I think that speaks well for the program when you can say your last two head coaches were promoted from within. It displays the loyalty they have had as assistants. We didn't give Mark the job, he earned it. He's continued to raise the bar in his 10 seasons as head coach."
Few's contract assures his presence on the Bulldog bench through 2018, his long-term agreement reflecting the university's commitment to Few and his commitment to Gonzaga. This will allow Few to continue to build on success he has enjoyed at Gonzaga.
Few has always been known for getting the most out of players both and off the court. He is committed to total player development.
Since Few arrived on the Gonzaga staff, the Bulldogs have produced 59 All-West Conference selections, 11 WCC Player of the Year recipients and six Academic All-Americans.
"When a young man enters the Bulldog basketball program, I believe it is our responsibility as coaches to help them reach their potential in every facet of their lives," Few said. "Our commitment to the players will always go far beyond the basketball court with a goal of producing the complete individual, one that Gonzaga University will be proud of long after their playing days."
Few and 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 Few's wedding was more special because Rev. Norm Few, father of the groom, officiated.
Wife: - Marcy (Laca) Few
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