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It’s a long way to go back into the memory banks, but maybe, just maybe, UCLA fans of the late 1960s and early 1970s know this feeling. The feeling that comes with utter domination. There is no other word to use, at least following
It was refreshing to hear a couple new items Monday night when the Bulldogs made up their weather-delayed contest at the University of Portland.
Is it us or is it them? The endless debate was discussed, in many forms, Saturday night on the Gonzaga television broadcast.
Is there an upper limit two people can talk about one subject over a two-hour period? If there is, the ESPNU broadcast crew of John Brickley and Sean Harrington tested the stratosphere Thursday night in Santa Clara, California.
It was supposed to be the showdown of the early season, the best game of the day, college basketball’s mano-a-mano battle in Spokane. Instead it turned out to be just another Gonzaga rout in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Well, not exactly.
Gonzaga won its 16th game of the season Thursday night, a 93-55 rout of Loyola-Marymount in front of a staid crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center. And it was that crowd that became part of the story, the televised story anyway.
When a player scores a career-high 36 points, all while missing just three shots, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out six assists, it’s hard to say anything negative. So ESPN’s Adrian Branch didn’t even try.
For the most part play-by-play man Greg Heister has grown into the role of traffic cop between his two partners, former Gonzaga players Richard Fox and Dan Dickau. And, if you listen carefully, you’ll realize he also shows more of an understanding of the game’s nuances than he’s given credit for over the years.
If you were sitting high up in section 113, you might have been wondering why the Waves, 4-8 coming in, were hanging with the undefeated Zags in the first half. After all, 20 minutes in, Gonzaga led by just seven. At home, you got that questioned answered. And from a reputable source: assistant coach Tommy Lloyd.
Those folks lucky enough to score tickets to a Gonzaga home basketball game have a cachet in Spokane. It’s a type of caste system, the haves and the have-nots. But watching at home can have its rewards as well. As it did Wednesday night for Gonzaga’s 102-65 win over the obviously overmatched South Dakota Coyotes. Santa Shem and his helper Rem brought every viewer a gift.
A Sunday afternoon watching Gonzaga basketball on ESPN2 sounds like fun, right? After all, the undefeated Zags – having won their first 10 games – were in Nashville for a showdown with the SEC’s Tennessee, a rematch of last year’s Battle in Seattle. Except, for much of GU’s 86-76 win, the game wasn’t the show.
If you missed the Gonzaga game Saturday night and only caught the score later, you might be surprised to learn it was a battle. Or, as Richard Fox called it on the KHQ broadcast, “a fist fight.” After all, the final score was 61-43 in Gonzaga’s favor, the Zags’ 10th win in as many games this season. Doesn’t sound all that tight.
More than likely when the ESPN announcing duo of Beth Mowins and Miles Simon found out they would be doing the renewal of Gonzaga’s series with Washington on Wednesday night, they didn’t suspect they would have to talk about everything but the game, which finished 98-71 in host GU’s favor.
Sometimes there is a cosmic confluence of game and commentator. Usually that means Bill Walton is doing an ESPN college basketball game. Cosmic might be Big Bill’s middle name. But Saturday there was a convergence as well. And Walton wasn’t anywhere near the Staples Center for Gonzaga’s nationally televised non-conference matchup with Arizona.
Worry isn’t a word that should be used when the 8th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are playing a home game against a 0-8 opponent. But there it was Thursday night, coming into play. Not about the outcome of the game, mind you, but for those of us at home, counting on Comcast to deliver the goods, worry about just finding the contest.
As Gonzaga was frittering away all but one point of what had been an 18-point lead over Iowa State on Sunday, amazement seemed to be the one feeling Dick Vitale and ESPN broadcast partner Mike Morgan could agree upon. Unless it was a sense of unbelievability.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few knew Friday night’s game in Orlando against Florida would be the Zags’ sternest test of the season to this point. And it was the same for their fans watching the AdvoCare Invitational semifinal at home in Spokane. It wasn’t just the contest, a 77-72 Gonzaga win after the Bulldogs trailed by five at halftime. It was also the homespun nature of the ESPNU broadcast.
So what else is there to do on Thanksgiving afternoon besides watch a Gonzaga basketball game from Florida? Eat a little bit? Sure. Catch some of the traditional holiday NFL game from Dallas? Maybe. Settle down for the John Wayne marathon on AMC? OK, that’s hard to resist. But all of those took a backseat Thursday, though, if you are a Gonzaga fan. The Zags were on. Playing in a tournament in which they have never lost.
The season-opening homestand is over. The Gonzaga Bulldogs got what they wanted out of the three games, mainly, three relatively easy wins. And the people watching at home? We had a chance to get reacquainted with Spokane’s top basketball program.
There’s an old saying about not being able to tell the players without a scorecard. And nowhere is it truer these days than at Gonzaga University. Thankfully, Friday night, as the new-look Bulldogs opened the 2016-17 basketball season with a 92-69 win over Utah Valley University at the McCarthey Athletic Center, we had some good guides.