While the Zags faltered late in route to a disappointing overtime loss to Arizona on Saturday, the team made it abundantly clear that it will remain in the national conversation all season. They hope to keep rising in the polls with a win tonight against cross-region rival Washington State at the Spokane Arena. That game is at 8 pm on ESPNU (in case you didn't get a ticket to the sold-out contest).
But you need more than a good team to hook a national audience, which brings us to a subject where Gonzaga is historically weak: nicknames. Think about it, the last time Gonzaga had a national superstar was Adam Morrison, aka the ‘Stache. But there just aren’t any good nicknames attached to any current Bulldog players. Let’s change that. Grantland’s Mark Titus already came out of the box strong last week, suggesting the tandem of Poland’s Przemek Karnowski and Lithuania’s Domantas Sabonis be called the “Low Bloc.” But here are five suggestions for individual players.
5. Przemek Karnowski — The Karnovore
Feed The Karnovore the ball in the post, and watch him devour his prey (undersized opponents). The Karnovore is a mountain of a man (clearly that he not one to skip meals, nor should he) and he deserves a nickname that national audiences and announcers can really sink their teeth into. The nickname value is heightened further because so many people can’t say his actual name (looking at you, Dan Dakich
). This needs to happen. It’s too perfect.
4. Byron Wesley — The Trojan Horse
The former USC Trojan seemed to appear unexpectedly out of nowhere, but it’s other teams that should beware. Wesley might not look the fearsome foe with a slightly atypical game that centers on his driving bank shots, but when unleashed, the Zags can ride his offensive attack to victory. Just look at the game versus St. John’s. When it looked like there might be trouble for the Gonzaga army late in the game and the reliable soldiers (Pangos and Bell) weren’t coming though, The Trojan Horse emerged from his relatively quiet state and attacked the rim with a seasoned ferocity that the foes simply couldn’t properly prepare to stop. Now about that airballed free throw...
3. Connor Griffin — Not Mike Hart
Mom or dad walks into the room near the end of the game.
“Oh, is that Mike Hart? Is he still on the team? I always love his hustle.”
“No, that’s Not Mike Hart.”
Note: Mike Hart is a graduate assistant coach on the team this year, so there's a chance your mom or dad could actually see him on TV.
2. Gary Bell Jr. — GB3
I operate under the belief that at least 20 percent of the popularity of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (at least before his career went in the tank), was because everyone loves saying “RG3.” It’s simple, easy to understand, and rolls off the tongue. “But Gary Bell is a Jr., not a III!” Correct. But what shot is Gary Bell’s specialty (especially now that he’s shooting them aggressively)? The 3-pointer. Plus, GB3 triples the alluring long "e" vowel sound that’s only doubled in RG3. Come on people, this one’s awesome and takes no effort.
1. Rem Bakamus — The REM Cycle
Mark Few doesn’t like putting his end of the bench guys in the game. Even with a 19-point lead at home with 2:30 left in the second half of this week’s Southeastern Louisiana game, the only guy not in the rotation to get minutes was Connor Griffin (for 1 minute). But when benchwarmer Rem Bakamus checks in, the game “enters The REM Cycle” and fans officially know it’s over. They can turn off their TVs and go to bed to dream about another Zags victory.
Feel free to share your own Gonzaga nickname suggestions in the comments.
All photos by Ryan Sullivan.