The way Gonzaga has been playing lately, it was a good thing Sean Farnham was in Spokane to broadcast the Saint Mary’s game for ESPN2.
That way, sitting at home, instead of worrying whether the Zags would win – they did, routing overmatched Saint Mary’s 94-46 – you could just play Sean Farnham Davenport bingo.
And Thursday night, you filled in most of your spots.
What they saw …
• Farnham is not the Davenport’s marketing director, but he certainly could be. He is the downtown hotel’s biggest booster. At least its biggest booster while covering GU games.
He talked about the flatbread. He mentioned the peanut brittle. He raved over the nice cards he received from the staff. Heck, it was a little surprising he didn’t term Gonzaga “the Davenport hotels of college basketball.”
Maybe it’s because the Zags are only ranked fourth.
• That’s where Gonzaga was listed by the NCAA committee Saturday in the season’s first “it doesn’t-matter-but-it’s-fun” seeding reveal.
It’s pretty obvious Farnham, the former UCLA player, thinks the Zags (23-2 overall, 10-0 in West Coast Conference play) are capable of more than that.
He and Roxy Bernstein, doing the play-by-play, couldn’t stop gushing about GU, especially in the opening half. And why not?
The Zags led 53-20 at intermission, but it was more than that.
Farnham mentioned “how out of sorts offensively Saint Mary’s is.”
“And you don’t see Randy Bennett teams this out of whack offensively,” Bernstein added.
The numbers were jaw-dropping. Saint Mary’s (15-10, 6-4) shot 20 percent in the first 20 minutes, missed every one of its 3-point attempts and had no assists.
Jordan Ford, who leads the WCC in scoring, was 0 for 6 from the floor and scoreless. And Malik Fitts (2 for 7, with four points) was also pretty much a nonfactor.
It was such a rout at intermission, even Bernstein couldn’t believe it. Coming out of halftime, he announced the score as 53-30. It was worse than that.
• One reason Gonzaga was, as Bernstein said, “rolling would be an understatement,” was Brandon Clarke. Again.
As everyone with a GU sweatshirt in their closet knows, Clarke earlier this week broke the school record for blocked shots in a season. But Farnham dissected Clarke’s ability in that area with the zeal he usually reserves for describing one of the Davenport’s mattresses.
At least he focused on a key element of Clarke’s blocks overlooked by many.
“Most of them,” said Farnham of the crowd-pleasing plays, “stay inbounds and allow his team to have the opportunity to run offense.”
Later, after Clarke had risen to the scoreboard – seemingly – to block a Ford floater, Farnham expanded on that statement.
“Just elite athleticism,” he said of Clarke’s ability, “understanding positioning of where he’s supposed to be and (then) blocking that shot. What did it lead to?” he asked rhetorically, before answering, “It led to a runout.”
• Clarke missed out this week when the Wooden Award midseason list was released. It was something Farnham, who has a vote, couldn’t understand.
It surprised him so much, he actually turned sarcastic.
After Clarke scored on an acrobatic layup to put GU up 68-31, Farnham said, voice dripping with sarcasm, “He’s not one of the top-20 players in college basketball.”
What we saw …
• One thing we will never be able to unsee: Farnham wearing one of the Kennel Club’s cowboy hats.
At one point he told the original wearer if Gonzaga built the lead to 40, he would wear it. Coming back from the under-12-minute media timeout, and the Zags ahead 74-33, the cameras focused on Farnham, who was wearing the student’s hat and sunglasses.
He then gushed about the McCarthey Athletic Center environment.
No wonder Bernstein then called him “the new president of the Kennel Club.”
• Say what you will about statistics, and Farnham talked about Gonzaga’s often, but the Gaels’ numbers seemed a bit inflated. Saint Mary’s came in 11th nationally in offensive efficiency in Ken Pomeroy’s respected rankings. But Gonzaga, which has risen to 27th best in defense, made Saint Mary’s look impotent.
The GU defense was so good, it forced Bennett’s team into one-on-one play. So much so, in fact, the Gaels didn’t get their first assist until 2 minutes, 18 seconds remained. It was 89-46 at the time. And Gonzaga had cleared its bench.
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