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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS FEATURE
By Autumn Jones
Class of 2010
|It's GameDay Baby! ESPN-Style at Kennel|
ESPN College GameDay brought top sports broadcasters Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Bob Knight, Hubert Davis, and Jay Bilas to the McCarthey Athletic Center earlier this month, marking the second time in three years the sports network went live from Gonzaga for its wild and wildly popular GameDay program.
Three years ago marked Gonzaga’s premiere with College GameDay and, ever since, the Kennel Club has embraced the title of ‘one of the best student sections’ in the nation. “You may have the Big Ten or the Big 12, but today you let the nation know, “we’ll hold our own with anybody!” said the former Notre Dame men's hoops coach Digger Phelps.
Gonzaga freshman Ricky Kellogg was the first student in the arena early Saturday morning, Feb. 7 and was awarded the chance to win $17,500, courtesy of State Farm Insurance, if he could sink a half-court shot. While the shot hit the rim and bounced out, “the experience was the highlight of my college career so far,” Kellogg said.
There are only eight College GameDay broadcasts this year, with most going to big-name, big-school teams. Already this year, ESPN has broadcasted live from the Universities of North Carolina, Notre Dame and Tennessee. Still on the agenda, Wisconsin, Texas, UCLA, and West Virginia universities.
“I come to Spokane every year for Mark (Few) and (wife) Marcy’s event [Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic] and the highlight for me is how nice the people are in Spokane,” said Jay Bilas. “I’ve never met nicer people. There’s a wonderful sense of community here.”
Five cameras, more than 900 students, the GU cheerleaders, and at least 30 ESPN personnel, along with the Zags' Coach Mark Few, Memphis Coach John Calipari, and assorted reporters filled McCarthey bright and early, beginning rehearsals at 6:45 a.m.
The Kennel erupted in cheer and song with the first live cut-in at 7 a.m. Sharp.
“This is huge for the University, huge for the students. It puts us in a totally different limelight to be seen nationally,” said David Lindsey, director of student activities. “We don’t realize it when we’re here because we live in it, but when you step back and look at it from the outside, you realize what this kind of coverage does for us.”
Multiple renditions of Zombie Nation, “G-O-N-Z-A-G-A,” “We are, GU!” and the like carried through the morning with student enthusiasm unparalleled that early on a Saturday. Kennel Club T-shirts, posters, hats resembling basketball nets, and giant foam fingers wagging everywhere showed true Zag pride and dedication.
Although Memphis got the best of the Zags when they tangled downtown at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena later in the day, the morning belonged to the Bulldogs.
In the words of Digger Phelps, “We came back to Gonzaga because of what you were for us three years ago. Way to go! You were the best of anyone else. Great job!”
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