There’s something comforting about being at home. With family members around. Or, at least, long-time neighbors.
Such was the case Saturday night as Gonzaga held off the University of San Francisco 82-73 before the usual 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
It wasn’t just the cozy Kennel confines that mattered for those of us watching at home, however. It also was the local announcing crew of Greg Heister, Dan Dickau and Richard Fox.
Hearing their voices, which have been absent on GU games lately, is the aural equivalent of a home-cooked meal.
What they saw …
The local trio bring such a depth of local knowledge to the broadcast on KHQ, from Gonzaga history to a familiarity with what the Zags are trying to accomplish this season.
As the Bulldogs, 19-4 overall, 9-1 in West Coast Conference play and ranked 15th nationally, built an 18-point first-half lead, they highlighted the areas favoring the Zags.
For example, the speed of the game.
“This pace has been breakneck,” Dickau said as the Zags and Dons (12-11, 4-6) raced up and down the court. “It absolutely favors Gonzaga. USF does not have the depth or the athleticism to play at this speed for much longer.”
He was right and USF coach Kyle Smith sensed it as well. The pace slowed and the Dons crawled their way back into the game, holding Gonzaga to three points over the last 10 minutes, 23 seconds of the first half.
Which brought out another aspect the two analysts are known for: not shying away from criticizing the home team.
“After a really nice start for GU,” Fox said as the half wound down, “the last 10 minutes, it’s been a flat bunch defensively, on the glass (and) offensively, they haven’t gotten the same type of looks … The last 10 minutes, the Dons have been playing a lot harder than the Zags.”
That was a comment Heister seemed to remember, because as Gonzaga began to pull away late in the game, the play-by-play voice wanted to know the biggest difference.
Fox and Dickau shared some thoughts, but Heister hit the right button.
“It’s just been the effort,” he said. “They’ve just been playing harder.”
What we saw …
Another aspect of local broadcasts is the local commercials, from auto dealers to pawnbrokers to appliance stores. They seem to repeat over and over, burning into our memory banks.
That’s not the case with either Dickau or Fox, who rarely repeat themselves.
Or pull punches.
When Josh Perkins gambled for a steal in the backcourt after the Zags had finally built a decent second-half lead, a move that led to a three-point play for USF, Dickau seemed ticked.
“That’s just not a smart basketball play,” he said, before explaining why. When Heister seemed to push back a bit, Dickau repeated the statement, one former point guard sharing wisdom with viewers about the current one.
But the game was the star this night and all three seemed to know it.
From a crowd-igniting Rui Hachimura dunk to USF seemingly answering each Gonzaga run, the trio continued to let the game take center stage.
When Frankie Ferrari hit a 3-pointer because of a communication breakdown between Hachimura and Silas Melson, they pointed it out. When Mark Few had words with referee Travis Schalzman in the last minute – “They were trying to foul,” Few said twice, loud enough for the crowd mikes to pick up – they let the moment breathe.
And, as the game wound down, Dickau asked a question Gonzaga fans have been arguing over in living rooms, watering holes and message boards all season.
“In a close game, who do you go to (for a key shot)?” Dickau wondered, using USF’s strategy of fouling Johnathan Williams as a starting point for possibly disqualifying Williams for the role because of poor foul shooting.
Heister countered with the Zags’ depth in that area, rattling off three names quickly. To which Dickau answered by emphasizing the need for a go-to guy.
All the while Williams was rattling home four consecutive free throws, leading to the trio laughing a bit over the coincidence.
And leaving the rest of us happy they entered our home.
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