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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

TV Take: Attendance, injuries the major talking points in Gonzaga’s blowout win over Incarnate Word

If you missed it, Gonzaga blew out Incarnate Word by 35 points on Wednesday night.

Asking, “Who?” is probably OK.

Call it the Zags’ breather if you want, but the Cardinals from San Antonio were on the schedule, sandwiched between the PK80 Invitational and stretch of three crucial nonconference games.

It was the type of game that coaches fear for only one reason – injuries – and broadcasters have to find ways to make interesting.

Both happened in the 103-68 victory before what was listed as a sellout crowd but featured a lot of empty seats.

What they saw …

Let’s take the last point first. Early in the game, the KHQ cameras showed a picture from behind the Kennel Club, the Gonzaga student section.

Dan Dickau, teaming with the usual crew of Greg Heister and Richard Fox, was talking about a different subject but stopped that train of thought and boarded another.

“There are a lot of empty seats, unfortunately, from those students,” Dickau mentioned, citing the video evidence. “It’s pretty shocking to see, considering you’ve got the 15th-ranked team in the country and the students aren’t showing up and showing out for this Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team.”

Heister then wondered where the students were. Fox figured they were in the library, like he would have been.

Maybe, but they certainly were also on their Twitter machines.

The official Gonzaga Kennel Club account weighed in on Twitter minutes later, aiming a tweet at Dickau and Heister: “I hope people don’t forget that it’s called a STUDENT section for a reason. All of us are students as well.” Then the tweet also mentioned the 180 tenting forms collected for Friday’s Creighton game.

Dickau responded with a question – and a comment.

“Will the student section be full for Creighton? The kennel club is special but needs to be special for ALL games.”

He’s right, though this one was, by Fox’s assessment, over in the first half – and many nonstudent fans made their exit then.

But there are gains to be made, even against a team picked to finish near the bottom of the low-rated Southland Conference.

Building confidence for the bench players, for one. Against Florida in their lone loss, the 6-1 Zags received just five points from their bench. In this one, they raised that number to 59. Different competition level, sure, but a much-needed chance to shine.

Seventeen of those points came from Zach Norvell, who started the second half. The reason for that wasn’t good.

Freshman Corey Kispert tried to corral a pass just before the 4-minute media timeout in the first half and seemed to come down funny on his left ankle. Heister noticed it right away, though Kispert wasn’t limping too noticeably. By the time the broadcast returned from commercial, Kispert was in the locker room and did not reappear.

To his credit, Heister put it the injury in perspective, not speculating too dramatically or underplaying it. He admitted they just didn’t know.

What we saw …

It would have been nice if some information had been given to the broadcasting crew, considering Kispert’s importance to this team, though schools are often hesitant to do that these days.

It’s not as if Heister’s crew didn’t have time to share it with the viewers.

That’s one of the challenges they have in blowouts like this. The trio has to be ready to fill time.

Heister, Dickau and Fox were. Most of the subjects were Gonzaga-related, from Heister’s early question about Johnathan Williams’ spot on the list of recent low-post scorers to the Bulldogs’ most recent rankings and the Zags’ staying in double digits after their impressive showing in Portland.

They also went a bit further afield, talking about subjects as varied as Dickau’s wedge game to horse racing, from Garth Brooks’ clinic to the chance the NCAA would ever allow six fouls.

Nothing was more entertaining, however, than Fox’s mangling of a first-half advertising read.

That allowed him to make fun of himself, for Heister to join in and, fittingly, a chance at a do-over.

One thing’s for sure, Incarnate Word (3-3) doesn’t want a do-over. And the GU schedule – with No. 25 Creighton visiting McCarthey on Saturday, a game in New York versus No. 4 Villanova on Tuesday and in-state rival Washington a week from Sunday in Seattle – will get tougher.

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