Opening night always includes a few glitches, and college basketball isn’t any different. Nor is the broadcast crew immune.
But the bugs were rare enough in Gonzaga’s 120-79 season-opening win over visiting Idaho State as to be immaterial.
What they saw …
The Bengals didn’t see much of the Zags after taking a 21-20 lead midway through the first half, as might be expected from a team picked in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky Conference against the nation’s third-ranked team.
Through the last three-quarters of the game, Dan Dickau and Richard Fox, again serving as KHQ’s analysts, covered every question Gonzaga fans may have had about the 2018-2019 team.
The least of which was Rui Hachimura, who dominated with 33 points in just 24 minutes and on only 18 shots.
“Part of the maturation you see in players is when the game slows down and they just have patience,” Fox said in the first half as Hachimura finished a three-point play.
Zags fans sometimes lose patience with the tangents the broadcast crew, led by Greg Heister on play-by-play, go on in these nonconference blowouts. But in some cases, like Tuesday night, there was only so much about a 41-point win on which the trio can dwell.
They talked about the efficiency of the Gonzaga offense. They pointed out the defensive lapses, not just the excellent ones. And they continued to introduce the new players as needed.
One of them is Brandon Clarke, the transfer from San Jose State who set a tone early with an aggressive play on a ball screen that turned into an explosive dunk on the other end.
“That is a proper introduction for the home opener,” Fox said after the flush.
But Clarke also dealt with foul trouble throughout the first 22 minutes of the game.
“You see this every time with these transfers, when they get back into games where they’ve got to play at game speed, there is just an adjustment,” said Fox, who sat out a year after transferring to Gonzaga from Colorado. “I think tonight you’ve seen that a bit with Clarke.”
Clarke, a junior, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes.
As the season goes on, viewers will see and hear Fox and Dickau delve deep into Gonzaga’s players and their performances. But it is also nice when they can go a bit deeper into the opponents. That was not only possible in this one but expected, what with Sam Dowd playing for Idaho State.
Dowd’s story has been told often since his days at Gonzaga Prep and North Idaho College, but it was good that Heister summarized the challenges he’s faced to get to Pocatello and college hoops.
What we saw …
Early on, Heister talked a bit about how Gonzaga’s opponents were going to have to score at least 80 points to have a chance to upset the Bulldogs. But the way the offense purred against the Bengals, 79 wasn’t even close.
Beside Hachimura’s 33, Zach Norvell was another go-to guy, especially from the free-throw line. The sophomore was perfect on 10 attempts en route to 23 points.
Which was almost, seemingly, how many dunks Hachimura had.
“This is an NBA athlete and a guy whose confidence just continues to grow,” Fox said of the preseason All-American.
About the only Gonzaga starter who may not have been singled out enough was guard Corey Kispert, who not only scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers, did a lot of the dirty work on the glass – he had six rebounds – and in the offense, adding four assists. And he got his hands on numerous loose balls that led to extra possessions for GU.
Not that the Zags needed many.
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