SPOKANE, Wash. – No one could have predicted Gonzaga's rise to national prominence within a 20-year period.
On the list of people the fans need to thank for that, are the McCarthey brothers.
Sometimes space or a special place is enough to tell a story. No Gonzaga fan understands the importance of space like Phil and Tom McCarthey.
"Mark (Few) knew how important it was to redo the Martin Center where we're going to blow out a wall--what was involved with that. Suddenly we had a lunch and a ham sandwich and everything changed drastically," said Tom.
When the McCarthey's were students at Gonzaga more than 40 years ago, they never imagined a life beyond the cozy confines of the Martin Center, the former home of Gonzaga basketball.
"We were ok. We were an ok thing, but I could have never imagine that we would go to the NCAA let alone go as far as we have," said Phil.
Once the 1999 team made that Cinderella run to the Elite 8, Mark Few took over as head coach and began his vision for this program.
"He promised us that if we stepped up, he would be there and he certainly kept his promises," Tom explained.
Though there was no guarantee Gonzaga was going to grow into the program we all know today, the McCarthey's believed in the future and put down a very generous donation to have a new Kennel built.
"I have to say I still get shivers when I walk in there, to this day, and the adrenaline starts pumping and I see the students across the way just so into they've been camping out for days," Phil explained.
The 6,000 seat facility opened in 2004 and the only empty chair in that place is the one the McCarthey's received through the university.
Space is a valuable thing for the Zags and the Kennel has been a nightmare for opponents. As for the McCarthey's, the shelf space is running a bit low. Except for one spot.
"Now you notice there's one hole smack here right in the middle at the moment. Well we're waiting. There's one other ball that needs to go in there. And I think 2017 is finally the time we're going to see that ball go smack here in the middle and fill in the hole," Phil said.
KREM 2 asked the McCarthey's if they could do it again, would they want the Kennel to fit more fans, they both said no. They love that homey feel and more importantly, they love how the Kennel Club is so close to the floor.
The environment in Spokane, as we know, is up there for one of the best in the country.