TV Take: No. 2 Gonzaga dismantles BYU in front of national TV audience
Feb. 5, 2022 Updated Mon., Feb. 7, 2022 at 5:11 p.m.
If Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham have a vote, it’s pretty obvious they will be casting their Wooden Award ballot for Chet Holmgren. After all, they have just experienced the freshman’s two greatest performances in about 48 hours.
The second one came Saturday night in Provo, Utah, in Gonzaga’s 90-57 rout of a reeling Brigham Young.
ESPN’s duo broadcast Thursday’s win over San Diego in which Holmgren scored 11 points in about 90 seconds while scoring a career-high 23 points. In this one he had 20 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and five blocks.
Farnham praised him as if he was the Davenport Hotel’s executive chef.
What they saw …
• Holmgren’s blocks moved him past Zach Collins and Austin Daye on the second-ranked Zags’ single-season list. He trails just Brandon Clarke. But it’s hard to judge just how many shots he’s altered in his 21 games.
Farnham pointed out that BYU was 5 for 21 in the paint before halftime. He quickly credited the 7-foot freshman.
Mark Few? When he talked with sideline reporter Molly McGrath before halftime, he did as well.
But like most coaches, he qualified the praise.
“When he’s taking the right shots and making the right plays, he’s unstoppable,” Few said. “When he gets a little into his own stuff there, he’s not unstoppable.
“You can see how gifted he is, especially if you find him the ball in the right situations.”
• Sideline reporters often don’t add a lot to a broadcast. But McGrath contributed even before the opening tip. She shared the news BYU (17-8 overall, 5-5 West Coast Conference) would play without starting point guard Te’jon Lucas, its second-leading scorer and leader is assists. That news was amplified by Farnham.
“This is a huge loss because you lose your best ballhandler,” the former UCLA player said, “and your best guard defensive player against an offense that has been rolling.”
Lucas’ presence wasn’t missed that much. The Cougars committed 16 turnovers, two more than their usual. Whether or not his presence would have helped a BYU offense that took some late baskets to get to 34% shooting is up for debate. What isn’t, though, is the Cougars had just 10 assists, three below their season average. A big part of that is the Zags (19-2, 8-0) were locked in on defense for much of the game, with Andrew Nembhard leading the way with six steals.
What we saw …
• Farnham took us back to his days with the Bruins late in the past century, to illustrate a point about Holmgren, who had yet to be born. The first-half story concerned a talk Magic Johnson had with UCLA before they were about to play a shot blocker.
The upshot of the advice from Magic was to take the ball right at the defender. Make contact with your knee and elbow. Attack. Good advice.
Advice Alex Barcello must not have heard. Just seconds later, BYU’s explosive guard – and leading scorer – took the ball to the rim. And at Holmgren. But not aggressively. He tried to fadeaway and Holmgren took advantage, collecting his fourth block of the half.
• The officiating trio that had a Pacific-12 Conference tinge – Chris Rastatter, Michael Greenstein and Deron White – spent a lot of time at the end of the half trying to decide if Hunter Sallis successful floater beat the buzzer. And that review, which they ultimately ruled had not, highlighted an issue with the replay rules.
Sallis had attacked the left baseline, putting his attempt over Fousseyni Traore, who rose high but couldn’t get the ball. He did, however, land directly on Sallis as the freshman was finishing the shot.
Anyone watching the replay at home to see if the shot was good could see it. It was a foul. If someone had done the same thing out front on a 3-point shooter, there certainly would have been a whistle. Watching the replay, one has to wonder if the shot was ruled too late to allow an excuse for not assessing the foul.
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