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December 4, 2009
I had planned on writing about a game that was fought hard on both ends of the court. A game where the story was a bunch of young players came out of the locker room pumped up and ready to go but got lazy in the second half with a large lead. A game where a bunch of freshmen and sophomores showed their incredible potential of becoming a dominant team in the Pac-10 Conference in the coming years. The moral of the game being a team that turned out a disappointing second half performance but is certainly headed in the right direction.
Then I heard this quote from sophomore forward DeAngelo Casto on a Spokane television station.
"You can't really get a more hostile crowd than Gonzaga. Their fans are terrible. They yell all kinds of stuff; they go into your personal life. I swear that's all they do all night."
What would prompt Casto to say this about a fan base that is perceived to be, at the very least, relatively classy fan base? Simple, a chant from a small section of the student section that is possibly the most inappropriate and disgusting taunt I have ever heard: "CASTO CAN'T READ (Clap-Clap Clap-Clap-Clap)"
You know, I had started coming around to being a closet Gonzaga fan. I usually would root for the Zags as long as a win wouldn't negatively affect the Cougars. But after possibly the most classless and insulting things I have ever heard, I can't do it anymore. In fact, I don't know if there is a fan base I currently despise more than Gonzaga's.
First of all, let's consider the facts: Casto had a difficult childhood by anyone's standards. By the time he was just eight years old, both of his parents had died. He was adopted into a Spokane area home with 14 other children. He had a difficult time qualifying out of high school but he did so nonetheless. While he's been at WSU, he's been nothing but a model student who has even settled on a major in psychology. This young, soft-spoken and incredibly polite and wonderful kid has done nothing but work his tail off since he set foot on this campus. There is no player you, as a Cougar fan and well-wisher, should be more proud for coming so far in so little time.
So I'd like to congratulate the Zags fans for picking on the one thing that DeAngelo has been working so hard on. I challenge anyone to find an individual who came out of the same circumstances as him and didn't have a difficult time in school. Although I realize it was only a small portion of the crowd, it reflects on all Bulldog fans. My dad had an old and very wise saying when it came to teams, "If one person is screwing around, you're all screwing around. Now run until I get tired of watching you run." I don't care if you weren't involved in the chanting, your fans did this and you should be ashamed as such.
Making it worse was the fact that the insult comes from a student body that attends a private, Jesuit institution that costs more money than I care to think of to attend. They're attacking a young man who came from terrible circumstances and is simply happy to be going to a public college, let alone playing basketball. Maybe it's because fans are still angry be spurned Gonzaga to play at a Pac-10 institution, an unthinkable decision in some of their minds.
Whatever the reason, there isn't an excusable one. Taunts or chants that attack a player's performance, on-court behavior or even past criminal record (see Josh Heytvelt) push the line but they don't cross it. To attack a player so personally and in such an insulting manner is unforgivable and, in my mind, the worst thing you could possibly do.
By the way, I don't even want to hear any excuse from Gonzaga fans that this is something WSU might do or that it's no worse than what other student fan bases have done. I have never in my time at Washington State heard anything even remotely as insulting as that. What's more, even if I had heard anything like that, it's not an excuse for the action. If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it to? Simply because another fan base might do it doesn't make it acceptable for you do as well.
So once again, congrats to the entire Gonzaga fanbase. Despite the fact that it might just be a few bad apples, you have redefined the term classless.
DeAngelo, everyone at this university knows what a great job you've been doing. I can speak for all of us when I say we're thrilled to have watched you become quite a young man in your short time at this school. I am incredibly proud to have you as a part of this Cougar family, one that will always support you and have your back. Keep up all of your incredibly good work.
Before the picks, congrats to volleyball for their first NCAA tournament birth since 2002 and to Pac-10 Coach of the Year Andrew Palileo. Make us proud ladies.
Last Week: 3-0
Forgot to pick the Civil War last week. Whoops!
Can Arizona get it done coming off a win in their rivalry game? Uh, no.
No Rose Bowl For Pete 35, Mike Stoops Is Still Employed 17
I don't know if I could care less about this game. Really, I don't. But the Huskies might just be able to pull this one off.
Jake Locker's Final Game 28, Jeff Tedford's Seat Getting Hotter 17
Obscure Pick of the Week:
My sister's got a middle name investment in this one so I'll go with the younger sibling.
Elizabeth City State 24, Tuskegee 17
Dunderhead of the Week: A robber in Shirley, New York who, after a failed robbery attempt, sent an apology note and 50 dollars in the mail. The note said the robber had a new child and was just trying to get some money. So, by failing at robbing the store and then sending the clerk 50 George Washingtons, he absolutely achieved that goal.
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