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.
Friday night, Gonzaga breezed past the Bulldogs of Bryant University, 109-70, making it two wins over the Rhode Island visitors in the past four years. It’s also the second time the Zags scored more than 100 points against Bryant.
And yet this wasn’t a blowout until the final 10 minutes or so, allowing the local broadcast team of play-by-plan man Greg Heister and analysts Dan Dickau and Richard Fox to show they are in mid-season form as well.
Good and bad, though the former was more on display.
Sure there were the occasional misidentified plays or players, but for the most part the flow of the broadcast was as good as the game.
For example, early on Heister brought up one of the strengths of last year’s team, its defense. That allowed Fox and Dickau to cite statistics from that squad and predict similar things from the 2016-17 version.
And then the Zags went on a run fueled by, you guessed it, their defense.
Over the next 7 minutes, Bryant was 1 of 6 from the floor and turned the ball over four times against the Zags’ three-quarter court trap.
Coincidence? Not really. The trio is close to the program. It shows. They know what to look for and what traps to avoid.
Another case in point was the early season play of Missouri transfer Johnathan Williams.
The 6-foot-9 post struggled a bit the first two games and in the early going of this one. But Dickau, who transferred from Washington to GU, and Fox, who made a similar journey from Colorado, calmly explained what was probably happening to Williams.
And predicted it would be just a matter of time before he got going. Actually, it was just a matter of minutes.
Williams took over the game in stretches, hitting a couple 3-pointers, attacking the offensive glass (he had a team-high four offensive rebounds) and scoring 20 points in 23 minutes.
He didn’t, however, lead the Zags in scoring. That honor went to Przemek Karnowski, with 22 points. The 7-1 senior was just too big and strong for the undersized Bryant frontline.
It showed early and often. Even when Karnowski was a bit hesitant inside, something Fox wasn’t hesitant to point out.
All that was to be expected. What wasn’t was the aformentioned three-quarter court zone trap Gonzaga unveiled, with guards Nigel Williams-Goss, Silas Melson and Josh Perkins – or Jordan Mathews – up top.
The group helped force 23 Bryant turnovers and quickly turned them into 26 points.
But they didn’t have much to do with the choppy nature of the second half.
That was due to a flock of whistles, especially right after halftime. In the first 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the second half, nine fouls were called. Gonzaga was shooting bonus free throws before the first media time out.
And Heister was trying to figure out why the change – there were only 20 fouls called before intermission, more than 30 after, 11 of those in the first 5 minutes.
He asked his partners. And after a few seconds of dead air, relayed their answers, saying he was receiving a lot of shrugs.
Not a good thing in a visual medium maybe, but funny.
No one was shrugging with a minute left, though, when Bryant’s Bosko Kostur was called for a flagrant foul on Rui Hachimura and the Zags up 37 points.
Neither ex-player thought the call was warranted, though Kostur did wrap Hachimura up after an offensive rebound, not allowing him to score.
By then the game, and the homestand, was wrapped up. Next up for the Zags is a Thanksgiving weekend tournament from Orlando, Fla. For us? A turkey day game against Quinnipiac to watch in-between courses.
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