Change is inevitable in the world of college basketball. But continuity is welcome as well.
So it was comforting to turn on the television Tuesday night to watch what would be Gonzaga’s 106-69 rout of visiting Howard and see three familiar faces.
Say what you will about the trio that broadcasts Gonzaga’s home games, Greg Heister, Dan Dickau and Richard Fox, but they have plenty of institutional memory.
And they dip into its well often during a blowout. Of which, with the home schedule Gonzaga has, we may see often this season.
“(There is) a lot new this year for Gonzaga, but so far it seems like the same old story,” Heister said before the tip. “It’s apparent Mark Few has himself another good basketball team.”
Even after just two games against overmatched teams.
What they saw…
Heister and the two analysts, both former Bulldog players, are comfortable with each other. And comfortable praising the home crowd.
“The Kennel Club has come and brought the energy,” Dickau said before the game, even though, as reported by The Spokesman-Review’s Whitney Ogden, the student group gave back two sections worth of tickets and left the back rows of their sections empty – something we never saw on the broadcast.
But on the court Gonzaga didn’t give back anything, especially on the defensive end.
In the first half the Zags limited Howard, which lost just 86-77 at Indiana on Monday, to 27 percent from the floor. The Bison finished at 30 percent, 32 percent beyond the arc.
Fox, who played the post, highlighted a big aspect of Gonzaga’s defensive game plan against the Bison (0-3), defending the ball screen.
Howard’s R.J. Cole, the freshman who came in averaging 25 points a game, wasn’t getting much off it thanks to GU’s bigs, Johnathan Williams, Killian Tillie and freshman Jacob Larsen. And Fox explained why.
On the other end, the Gonzaga offense continued to play better than most anticipated, considering the losses off last year’s national runner-up team.
“What surprise you is how far along they are offensively,” Fox said in the first half as the Zags were en route to shooting 57 percent from the floor for the game while only turning it over 13 times.
A big part of Gonzaga’s offensive efficiency was the play of point guard Josh Perkins, who had six assists and just two turnovers. The redshirt junior earned praise throughout the night, especially for a new-found offensive aggressiveness.
But, to his credit, Dickau was willing to be critical as well. When Perkins drove too deep and picked up a first-half charge, Dickau pointed out the mistake – and how the GU staff feels about it.
“Make the simple play,” the former point guard said, pointing out an open shooter on the wing. “One dribble, come to a quick stop in the key … instead (he takes) one extra dribble, tries the lookaway, wrap-around pass, gets called for the charge.”
What we saw…
Routs like this one allows the trio to explore a lot of areas, from the changes offensively this season, to Rui Hachimura’s explosiveness, from Silas Melson’s career to the play of the senior post, Williams.
It was Williams they really focused on, and rightfully so. He eclipsed the 1,000-point mark as a collegian with just over 5 minutes left in the first half and went on to finish with 12 points and nine rebounds in this one, the same exact numbers Larsen posted.
Early in the second half Heister led a discussion about Williams, who played his first two years at Missouri, and his place in Zag history. It ranged from that subject into his NBA prospects and finished up focusing on his leadership skills.
It was that type of game. It was such a blowout even little mistakes didn’t matter, whether they were on the court – GU picked up six first half offensive fouls – or off.
We missed one of Howard’s few first-half baskets because the camera was showing us Adam Morrison at the radio table. When Corey Kispert was called for a first-half charge, Heister called it his third and had Dickau comment about it. Problem was, it was his second.
But it was a good game for working out the kinks. The Zags made sure of that.
When Howard was mired in a 1-for-11 stretch in the first half, Fox mentioned “There’s just nothing easy.” He was right. For Howard.
For Gonzaga and its fans, this one was really easy.