SPOKANE, Wash. – Students and community members joined together Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the Gonzaga men’s basketball team at a homecoming rally.
The event featured several speakers, including Gonzaga University’s president, head coach Mark Few, as well as a few players.
Gonzaga President Dr. Thayne McCulloh spoke to the energized crowd to thank them for the support during the team’s journey to the NCAA Tournament Championship.
“There were almost 20 million people who were watching the first game on television. There were many more millions who watched the title game. And across the country and around the world, there were people who were rooting these guys because we are a nation, that among many things, appreciates and respects what it means to win, what it means to achieve, but especially what it means to do that with character,” said Dr. McCulloh.
McCulloh gave a special shout out to Coach Mark Few and his leadership throughout his time at Gonzaga. Few was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, as well as the Naismith Coach of the Year.
Few then spoke to the crowd and said this year’s tournament run was an experience of a lifetime.
“I couldn’t possibly be prouder of these guys,” said Few. “They are of the highest character, they are as close a team as there ever will be around, the love this year from guy to guy on this team was overwhelming.”
While the Zags fell short of the National Championship Title, Few said they are prepared to win it all next year.
Senior Rem Bakamus, known for his sense of humor, was the first player to speak. He thanked the crowd, teammates and coaching staff that supported him through his time on the team.
“These last five years have been incredible. I thanked my mom, as well, because I was born at the right time, I got here the best five seasons!” joked Bakamus.
Bakamus said this year’s NCAA Tournament was the trip of a lifetime.
Senior Przemek Karnowski followed Bakamus.
Soaking in some final moments as the big man on campus. pic.twitter.com/Q1d6C0UZAp— Darnay Tripp (@DarnayTripp) April 6, 2017
“It’s been a long ride, but I think we had the most fun we could have possibly had. I just want to say thank you to all of you all for supporting us, not only over the last month, but for the last five years I’ve been here. This has been an awesome ride and I will forever have Gonzaga in my heart," said Karnowski.
Crowd starts chanting, "one more year" as @NigelWG5 leaves the podium.— Mark Hanrahan (@KREMMark) April 5, 2017
Junior Nigel Williams-Gosse, who transferred to Gonzaga two years ago, was the last player to speak.
“I knew basketball was going to be great here, it’s no secret that this program has been special for the last 20 years, but what I didn’t know was I was joining a family,” said Williams-Gosse.