Zags Keep Moving Up

Feb. 18, 2002

AP Sports Writer

When Dan Dickau split with the University of Washington in favor of Gonzaga, he knew things would be better for him across the state in Spokane.

He just couldn't foresee it being this good.

The Bulldogs moved up one spot to No. 7 in this week's AP college basketball poll, the highest ranking in school history.

They plan to keep climbing.

They avenged their only West Coast Conference loss by beating Pepperdine over the weekend, and they're riding a 26-game home-winning streak in "The Kennel."

"I had a feeling things were going pretty good over here and that I had a chance to be part of something special," Dickau said Monday after the rankings came out. "This is pretty sweet what we've got going on here, but we can't take it for granted."

Gonzaga (24-3, 11-1) beat Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine last week, snapping the Waves' 13-game winning streak, the longest in the nation this season. The victory also kept alive Gonzaga's chance at a second consecutive conference title and top seeding in the WCC tournament.

The Bulldogs have won nine straight heading into a California road trip this week that ends the regular season. They play at San Francisco on Friday and at Saint Mary's on Saturday.

"We've been in it for a while now," coach Mark Few said of the poll. "But it's neat to be able to see that the national media continue to respect the job our guys are doing. As long as we keep winning, we should continue to climb."

This team is the most consistent Gonzaga has ever had, Few said, and has played the toughest schedule. He also said these Bulldogs also rebound better than any of their successful predecessors.

"We've been very resilient on the road," the third-year coach said. "None of the (previous) teams have faced the national attention in every gym you go in. We're facing sellouts everywhere and every team's best shot.

"Teams are geared up for us and that's been another challenge for us, which makes what we've been able to accomplish even more special."

Few said it's hard to compare teams, but he knows this group has the potential to make a run deep in the NCAA tournament - as the Bullodgs have in the past three seasons.

Last year, Gonzaga beat Virginia and Indiana State before losing to Michigan State in its third straight season reaching at least the round of 16.

"You look at a team and think that if you reach your potential you're capable of doing things like this," Few said. "You hope, in the best-case scenario, things like this can happen."

Dickau, a senior point guard, leads the West Coast Conference in scoring at 20.9 points per game. He transferred to Gonzaga after two seasons at Washington.

"It feels great to be part of something like this," he said. "But I don't think we're satisfied right now because there are a lot more things to do and games to play this year. ... We have a chance to do something special."

The team's first goal is winning the WCC, Dickau said.

"As long as we keep winning, we just have to do our end of the thing and take it from there," he said.

Dickau says Gonzaga still could be considered somewhat of a surprise in the nation's top-10.

"Maybe still a little bit, but they know the name and know a little bit about us, so maybe it's not as big of a surprise," he said.



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