For the first time this season, Gonzaga left the friendly confines of the McCarthey Athletic Center.
But, despite playing in the PK80, touted as the best preseason college basketball tournament ever, the Bulldogs are still looking for a tight game.
Their 86-59 win over previously undefeated Ohio State didn’t turn out to be close, but it was probably nice for the Zags to play at a neutral site – which didn’t turn out to be all that neutral.
Just like it was nice for Zag fans watching at home to hear some new voices who, despite the possibility to not be neutral, spent most of the game touting the new-look Bulldogs.
ESPN2’s Doug Sherman and Dan Dakich finished up Thursday’s eighth game of the tournament meant to honor Nike founder Phil Knight with as solid of an effort as the Zags.
What they saw …
It can’t be easy calling your son’s game, but that was what Dakich faced in this one.
Andrew, a graduate transfer point guard for the Buckeyes, has performed in games his dad has analyzed before, at least six times according to an estimate by the elder Dakich.
But this was the first time this season and, when Andrew came on in the first half and drew the unenviable assignment of guarding a red-hot Perkins, dad was immediately put on the hot seat.
Perkins, who finished with 20 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers over the younger Dakich, which probably would have ticked off dad, if he were still coaching. So he went into coach mode a bit, talking about Andrew having to get his hands up sooner when guarding someone who can drain 3-pointers like Perkins.
But, after Perkins’ second one, from long range behind a screen, he admitted, “I don’t know what you do about that one.”
Later, after Perkins hit the third of what would be six 3-pointers, Dakich reiterated that point.
“Even though that’s my son,” Dakich said, “I don’t know what you do there.”
But give Dakich and Sherman credit. They didn’t shy away from trying to figure it out.
“There is nothing better, right or wrong, whether it goes good or bad, than watching your kid play,” Dakich said in the second half.
“You enjoying tonight,” Sherman asked.
“Not really,” Dakich answered.
Neither did the rest of the Buckeyes, who came in undefeated but struggled against a Gonzaga defense Dakich was quick to praise all night.
What we saw …
Most of the PK80 games during the day Thursday seemed rather lackluster, at least as far as the crowds – to use that term loosely – were concerned. Even hometown Portland and Portland State didn’t attract loud followings.
But Gonzaga did.
Sherman noticed it right away. “There’s no doubt there is a homecourt advantage for Gonzaga,” he said in the first half.
Dakich even mentioned it when Randy McCall whistled a foul on a Buckeye player, describing it with a derogatory term for a call – when Perkins was poked in the eye earlier, the officials reviewed the play but decided it was a common foul – that had incited the crowd just seconds earlier.
“There’s your makeup call to keep the fans quiet,” said the former college coach turned Indianapolis radio host and game analyst.
Nothing kept Johnathan Williams quiet, as he scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-7 from the foul line.
He and the Zags so demoralized Ohio State the Buckeyes, at one point, seemed to give in. The former coach, Dakich, caught it immediately.
“Ohio State gave up there,” he said following a turnover and a GU run out.
The Buckeyes bounced back but Sherman and Dakich, joined at times on the sidelines by Jeff Goodman, were still able to turn their attention to the second-round matchup with Florida.
“Florida (today), with their guards against Gonzaga, with their guards, will be interesting,” Dakich said.
And more than likely the tight game the Zags have been searching for.
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