Spokane, Wash. • Two of the most successful coaches in college basketball went head to head on Thursday night when West Coast Conference powers Gonzaga and BYU met at McCarthey Athletic Center.
It was the fifth meeting between the programs in the last three years, but BYU's Dave Rose and Gonzaga's Mark Few have been good friends for a lot longer than that.
"I've admired what Mark has down up there for a long, long time," Rose said.
Ironically, Rose and his wife, Cheryl, were in Spokane in 2010 to speak at a charity function for Few when word began to lead out that BYU was thinking about going independent in football and placing its other sports in another conference.
"It was interesting how that happened," Rose said. "After I got sick [with a cancerous tumor on his pancreas], Mark invited Cheryl and I to come speak at the gala that they have. We were keynote speakers. During that three days we were up in Spokane was actually when BYU was talking about going independent in football and joining the WAC at the time, and then it switched to where we might actually join the WCC. So that weekend was actually kinda strange, yeah."
BYU eventually joined the WCC, but played Gonzaga before it officially became a member.
The schools met in a 2011 NCAA Tournament second-round game in Denver, with Jimmer Fredette-led BYU prevailing 89-67 to move into the Sweet 16. The Cougars won the first WCC matchup, 83-73 in Provo last year, but Gonzaga has won the next three matchups, including Thursday's game.
Rose said he and Few talked about playing each other before BYU joined the WCC, but it never happened.
"We spent a lot of time talking about a series in Seattle, and in EnergySolutions Arena, at the Kennel and here [in Provo]," Rose said. "It just ended up happening where now we play twice every year."
Get Guy Lewis in the Hall
Rose is among a group of former Houston players who are trying to get former Houston coach Guy Lewis into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Rose played for Lewis from 1980-83 after playing junior college ball at Dixie College in St. George.
"If anybody deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, [Guy Lewis does]," Rose said. "The guy has been to the Final Four five times. And what he did for not only college basketball, but his players, and what they did for the NBA and professional basketball. I mean, his record speaks for itself. I hope he gets what I consider the call he has deserved for a real long time."