Gonzaga's 1994 NIT Players To Be Honored
Jan. 16, 2004
SPOKANE, Wash. - It was a unique group of players, and Saturday night a sold out Kennel will honor the players from the 1994 club that helped lay the groundwork for the recent upswing Gonzaga University men's basketball has taken.
It's been 10 years since the Bulldogs captured their inaugural West Coast Conference regular-season title. And while there was disappointment in losing in the WCC Tournament semifinals, the Bulldogs nonetheless culminated a season of firsts with a run in the National Invitation Tournament.
John Nemeth, Jon Kinloch, Caslav Trifunovic, Scott Morgan, Jason Rubright, Matt Stanford, Scott Spink, Geoff Goss and Jeff Brown return to The Kennel to be honored at halftime of Saturday's game with Saint Mary's College. Unable to attend are Jason Bond, David Cole, John Rillie, Kevin Williams and Marty Wall.
Gonzaga led the WCC chase wire-to-wire in claiming the school's first regular-season title with a 12-2 mark. After falling to San Diego in the WCC Tournament semifinals played at Santa Clara, Calif., the Bulldogs were invited to the NIT. And it didn't take long for Gonzaga to shake the basketball world, posting an 80-76 win at Stanford University in the opening round and losing a heartbreaking 66-64 decision at Kansas State University in the second round.
A 22-8 season in 1994, combined with a 19-9 mark in 1993 and a 20-10 ledger in 1992 gave Gonzaga 61 wins in three seasons. A year later the 1995 Bulldogs would appear in their inaugural NCAA Tournament, and this year Gonzaga is gunning for a sixth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The foundation had been built.
Brown, a senior from Spokane, was named the WCC Player of the Year and the GTE Academic All-American of the Year. Brown led the WCC in scoring for a second straight season with a 21.1 average while carrying a 3.64 GPA in the classroom. Brown was joined on the All-WCC team by Goss, another in a long line of outstanding point guards to come through Gonzaga. Guard John Rillie, the Australian who would single-handedly shoot Gonzaga to the WCC Tournament title and NCAA berth the following year, earned honorable mention honors as a junior.
"This group of players played a big role in getting Gonzaga basketball where it is today. They proved Gonzaga could compete and win in the WCC, and they also put Gonzaga on the map in the post season," Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. "We think it is only fitting these players be honored on its 10th anniversary season and in the last year of The Kennel. They helped generate the atmosphere we find in The Kennel today."
The 1994 club posted a 14-0 home record, that coming on the heels of a 13-0 home record in 1993. They were part of a 34-game home winning streak that was snapped on Jan. 3, 1995, at the time the second longest active streak in the country.
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