When Gonzaga fans programmed the Zags’ Thursday night game into their DVR, they may have done it with a bit of trepidation.
The game was on CBS Sports Network, which has been a little hit-and-miss with the broadcast team’s knowledge of the second-ranked Bulldogs, in the network’s first season on West Coast Conference games.
They had no need to worry. Not with Rich Waltz and Dan Dickau describing the Zags’ 85-67 victory over Loyola Marymount from the McCarthey Athletic Center.
One has a Spokane connection from years ago – and the other is Dickau, a Gonzaga legend and a mainstay on local broadcasts for years.
What they saw …
• Waltz, who began his announcing career in Spokane in 1986, calling Chiefs’ games, labeled Spokane a “basketball-crazy city.” If it is, the Bulldogs (24-1, 10-0 WCC) have played a big part in that.
Even when they played as lackadaisical as they did in the first half – a circumstance Waltz and Dickau were not shy about pointing out.
They also were quick to praise the Zags – for their play on both ends – as they pulled away in the second half.
Waltz, who spent many years as a major league baseball radio play-by-play announcer, has mastered the art of letting the crowd speak as a way of describing an impressive dunk or an emphatic block. The silent pauses were appreciated.
• That’s not to say the broadcast was perfect.
Sideline reporter – yes, there was a sideline reporter – John Schriffen was giving a second-half update on Ryan Woolridge, talking about an “injury” the point guard had suffered and how he was in the tunnel riding a stationary bike. The only problem was, as he was speaking, Woolridge was shown checking in at the scorer’s table.
• Volleyball comes up often on Gonzaga games, but usually it is in reference to Killian Tillie’s family. Being that Tillie warmed up, was termed “available” but did not play, you might have thought it wouldn’t have come up.
But Waltz used the sport for a basketball reason.
As Gonzaga, third in the nation in rebounding margin, was dominating the glass early, Waltz spiked one.
“The Lions cannot afford to let the Zags play volleyball on the offensive glass,” he said. They must have been listening, because they began blocking out better and ultimately finished with more rebounds than Gonzaga.
In fact, the Lions had nine offensive rebounds (to GU’s four), including a second-half one after a missed free throw.
“You look over at coach Few and the look of disgust,” said Dickau, though it wasn’t shown. “Giving up an offensive rebound off a free throw is a cardinal sin.”
It was one of only 12 free throws the Lions had.
• Woolridge is really quick. But he looked even quicker against Loyola Marymount (8-16, 2-8) with his lime green shoelaces.
The point guard, one of five Zags in double figures with 12 points, wasn’t alone, and the Zags wore the vivid laces in solidarity with Gonzaga tennis player Katie Day, who recently was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
What we saw …
• Hard to think it is 2020 and national announcers are still saying Gon-zog-a. Thursday it was former Connecticut star Khalid El-Amin with the faux pas on the halftime show. And he didn’t just say the name wrong, he followed up with “the Zogs.”
Talk about doubling-down.
• It didn’t take long for either Few or Loyola Marymount coach Mike Dunlap to express their disappointment with the way the game was being officiated. Nine minutes, actually.
First it was Few who actually got down into what looked like a defensive stance – Dickau asked for a replay to confirm but was denied – after Frank Harvey called a foul on Woolridge.
Dunlap was more expressive when a couple minutes later Kevin Brill’s late whistle was Keli Leaupepe’s second first-half foul. The Lions coach jumped up and down on the court at least twice, though his vertical wasn’t much.
The key matchup …
• Eli Scott leads Loyola Marymount in scoring, rebounding and assists. Yes, all three. He also came awfully close to leading the Lions in first-half fouls. He picked up his second – a charge earned by Drew Timme – with 6 minutes left to play before intermission.
Still, with the Zags unable to lock him down with Tillie, as they did in the first game, he finished with a team-high 15 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Mainly it was Corey Kispert on Scott, and he came close to a standoff, scoring 11 points, with four assists and five steals.