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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga planning to allow players’ families to attend home basketball games

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 12, 2021

Forward Drew Timme and his Gonzaga teammates had to play Kraziness in the Kennel inside a nearly empty McCarthey Athletic Center on Nov. 20.  (By Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Forward Drew Timme and his Gonzaga teammates had to play Kraziness in the Kennel inside a nearly empty McCarthey Athletic Center on Nov. 20. (By Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The McCarthey Athletic Center soon will welcome some friendly faces in the audience during games.

Gonzaga will be allowed to have 200 people at home basketball games with Spokane entering Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan on Sunday. School officials are optimistic they can accommodate players’ families, but that might be about all, according to deputy director of athletics Chris Standiford.

“It’s 200 people total in the building, so we’re dealing with a very small number,” Standiford said. “We’re north of 100 already when you add up the teams, game officials, TV broadcast crews, media, staff, custodians.

“We’re focusing on the players’ families right now to create access for them.”

The men’s and women’s teams have played inside a nearly empty arena, due to COVID-19 restrictions, with artificial crowd noise piped in over the sound system. The Kennel seats 6,000 and is regarded as one of best home-court atmospheres in college basketball.

Players and coaches have talked about the quiet atmosphere and the importance of generating their own energy during games. Beginning next week, that should change with the presence of family members and some ambiance in the building.

“It’s huge,” Standiford said. “It’s been one of the biggest priorities for us through the season to try to get the student-athletes’ families in the building. We’re going to do everything we can to do that.

“It’s been really tough when you’re looking at this empty building and there’s no question you can do it (with families on hand) and do it safely, but they weren’t allowing it.”

The GU women learned the news after practice Friday afternoon. The Zags will play under the current rules on Saturday against Santa Clara.

The new rules arrive at the tail end of the regular season.

Senior Night is right around the corner for the women, who are scheduled to face Loyola Marymount on Feb. 27 in the regular-season finale at the McCarthey Athletic Center. GU could have another home date if a postponed game vs. San Diego is made up.

The top-ranked Gonzaga men have home games next week against rival Saint Mary’s on Thursday and San Diego on Saturday. The Zags could have additional home dates if postponed matchups against Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount can be rescheduled.

Standiford wishes the attendance figure was much higher than 200, but the school will work with what’s available.

“Honestly, things like having our cheerleaders back in the building, senior kids, Kennel Club kids, just to give them one chance to be in the building,” he said. “Two hundred is incredibly limiting.”

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