Mark Few: Handstand was his way to keep Gonzaga loose
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga coach Mark Few's locker room handstand prompted a discussion with Kyle Wiltjer after the star forward tweeted video of the stunt that went viral this week.
''What we do in the locker room, we had to re-explain to Kyle, stays in the locker room,'' Few said Tuesday as second-seeded Gonzaga prepared to play 11th seed UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
But the handstand, so uncharacteristic of the reserved and dignified Few, also served a serious purpose: To help the Zags loosen up a bit.
Expectations have been high for this team, and Few wanted to make sure the Zags aren't crushed by them.
''The theme of this team is to celebrate wins,'' Few said. ''There are so many expectations that they are supposed to do this that it was becoming like a job.''
''We want to take time to celebrate wins,'' Few said.
Celebrate the Zags did after dismantling Iowa 87-68 on Sunday to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.
Wiltjer's tweet starts with guard Eric McClellan doing a backflip in the locker room. Then Few does a brief handstand while the team cheers.
''We aren't done yet, fellas!'' Few shouts.
Questions about Gonzaga's ability to go deep in the tournament had become pervasive after Gonzaga failed to reach the second weekend for five consecutive seasons. They were coupled with declarations that this might be the best team in Few's 17 years at the helm.
McClellan insisted this edition of the Bulldogs is having fun.
''We never let the moment get too big,'' McClellan said. ''We are in the moment and having fun.''
Center Przemek Karnowski said it wasn't the first time the 52-year-old Few, who has the highest winning percentage among Division I coaches, had done a handstand after a victory.
''It was just awesome,'' Karnowski said. ''We are seeing that he is having fun too.''
Players and coaches spend a lot of time together during the grind of a long season and they see different aspects of each other, Karnowski said.
''There are a couple of sides of Coach Few,'' Karnowski said. ''He let it loose.''
But Karnowski wasn't providing more details.
''What was in the locker room stays in the locker room,'' he said.
Fun aside, Friday's game against UCLA is a reminder of one of the most painful losses in the program's history
That occurred in the Round of 16 in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, when Gonzaga squandered a 17-point lead to lose 73-71 in the final seconds.
The indelible image from that game is star Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison crying on the floor of the court as the game ended. Morrison is now a member of the Gonzaga staff.
There was no celebrating in that locker room, Few said.
''When it ends, it ends,'' he said.
Gonzaga most recently faced UCLA in December, handing the Bruins their only home loss of the season.
But that isn't the same as beating them in the NCAA Tournament, Karnowski said.
''We are going to try to win that game and help (Morrison) get over that loss,'' Karnowski said.