When a game gets out of hand, what is the broadcast team to do? It’s certainly a pregame discussion among any group that presents a Gonzaga game this month.
Saturday night’s crew, the guys manning the on-site control center along with announcers Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham, working from their California homes, were ready when the Zags put this one away. Even though that came in the first 20 minutes as top-ranked Gonzaga cruised to their 26th consecutive win, this one 106-69 over the University of San Diego in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
What they saw …
• During a first-half break, one of the studio commentators wondered how the Bulldogs (22-0 overall and 13-0 in West Coast Conference play) avoid becoming bored. After all, they were favored by more than 30 against the Toreros (3-8, 2-5) and were well on their way to covering even that wide margin.
It’s not simple, but it is explainable. Which Farnham did right after the broadcast returned to Spokane.
“There hasn’t been any complacency in how they approach the game,” said Farnham, who has seen as many Gonzaga games as any national broadcaster. “When you are as focused as this team is on their goal, and their goal is not a West Coast Conference championship. Their goal is not an undefeated season. Their goal is to win a national championship.
“That’s been the goal since Day 1 and it remains their sole focus and the sole purpose of the season.”
• Flemming, unlike many play-by-play voices, is not shy about sharing his opinions. The one he wanted to emphasi ze Saturday was that Drew Timme belongs in the national player of the year discussion. Being the last two Gonzaga games Flemming have called were Feb. 13 versus USF (Timme: 11 of 12 from the floor, 28 points and 10 rebounds) and this one (Timme: 7-of-8 shooting, 21 points, eight rebounds), you understand why.
Farnham had fewer objections than Jennifer Garner in that obnoxious credit card commercial, but he did have one. His main point: The Zags have three players (Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs) who will make All-American teams.
The player of the year usually comes from a school with one pre-eminent player, as in Iowa and Luka Garza.
What we saw …
• You’ve probably heard ESPN’s analysts begin to acknowledge not just the Gonzaga offense – entering the game ranked second nationally behind Iowa by Ken Pomeroy – but its defense as well.
Rightfully so. The Zags have moved up Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive rankings steadily since starting WCC play. They are third nationally, ahead of programs that emphasis that end of the floor such as Baylor, Virginia and Texas Tech.
They’ve become so good, in fact, when they break down, a comment like Farnham’s early in this one (saying they needed to focus on defense), seems out of place.
Where have the Bulldogs improved? The answer is obvious.
Throughout their dominating first half, the Zags switched consistently, forcing the Toreros to adjust, something they struggled to do. But to be successful, the Zags needed to communicate. Except for a couple of breakdowns in that area, both of which Farnham pointed out, they looked locked in. It was a huge part of their defensive success, which led to USD’s 39% first-half shooting and turning the ball over 12 times.
• In a game that was decided before halftime, was anyone surprised Flemming and Farnham mentioned the Davenport Hotel and one of its signature food menu items?
Not really. But to the extent it was covered early in the second half – now that even surprised the nation’s pre-eminent spicy shrimp flatbread aficionado, Farnham.
Flemming was smiling as the game returned from the media timeout with 15 minutes, 6 seconds left.
He was about to introduce a series of Davenport employees. And, over the next minute, they introduced a new menu item. Well, a new name for the spicy shrimp flatbread.
It henceforth will be known as “The Farnham.” Not the spicy shrimp flatbread. The Farnham.
When the new menu rollout was finished, Farnham couldn’t stop smiling, even asking for his own copy.
“Is that the greatest moment of your professional career?” Flemming asked.
Actually, more than just that, Farnham said. “This is the greatest day of my life,” he said.
Huh. Wonder how that comment went over in the Farnham home?
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