Kragthorpe: Here’s the (latest) book on Gonzaga, BYU’s opponent tonight

First Published      Last Updated Feb 25 2017 12:24 pm

The Stocktons are less prominent than the McCartheys in "Glory Hounds," but Salt Lake City is well represented in a new book about Gonzaga University basketball.

With the unbeaten Bulldogs likely to come to Vivint Smart Home Arena to launch their 2017 NCAA Tournament run next month, the book's timing is good. Bud Withers, a longtime Northwest sportswriter, has followed his earlier work about the Zags with another look at the program's rise.

He begins with a thorough study of how brothers Tom and Phil McCarthey of Salt Lake City became major benefactors of the school, leading to the building of the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. That's where the Bulldogs will host BYU on Saturday night to conclude regular-season play.

One of the last chapters of the book is my favorite part. Withers recaps each of Gonzaga's 18 consecutive NCAA appearances from 1999-2016, including stops in Salt Lake City (either at the Huntsman Center or the Jazz's arena) in 2003, '06 and '13. Those visits include the Bulldogs' epic double-overtime loss to Arizona in the second round in '03, Adam Morrison's performance in '06 and Wichita State's upset of the Bulldogs four years ago, when David Stockton — the third of Jazz legend John Stockton's six children — was a key player for Gonzaga.

Also chronicled is how John Stockton became involved in the coaching staff's game-planning for a second-round game vs. BYU in Denver in 2011, when his son was a freshman. Jimmer Fredette scored 34 points as the Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16.

Mainly because of John Stockton's Gonzaga ties, Utahns have followed the program for a long time. BYU's West Coast Conference membership for the past six seasons also has heightened the awareness of Gonzaga. So even though the middle of the book is designed primarily for Gonzaga fans, it resonates with anyone who has paid attention to the Bulldogs.

Withers succeeds with detailed reporting, based on in-person interviews. He also does a good job of following up on what has happened to the likes of Casey Calvary, Ronny Turiaf, Cory Violette (who once almost made the Jazz roster) and Dan Dickau since their college days.

Gonzaga basketball is a phenomenon, especially this season. "Glory Hounds" should have a healthy shelf life in March and maybe even into April as the Bulldogs pursue their first Final Four appearance.


Twitter: @tribkurt