The Kennel is a special place to watch basketball. Gonzaga’s McCarthy Athletic Center has a home court that has hosted 98 GU men’s victories. The most recent came Saturday night against Santa Clara.
This win was special though—especially for me. My dad made it to his first game in the MAC. It was a good one to catch too. There was something very different about the entire event with my dad there; it felt more exciting; more important.
As part of my job as the media timeout coordinator, I am required to start the game clock 90 minutes before tip-off. So since the game began at 5pm PST, I was scheduled to arrive at the arena around 3:15. My dad came along for the pregame adventure and shadowed me throughout the evening before the game began.
It was fun showing him the ins and outs of the gym, all the while watching the seats fill up with fans staggering in every few minutes. I introduced him to a few people from the athletic department, and we observed warm ups together; analyzing different components of the team.
Once the game began, he took his seat in the press box and I sat at the table to perform my duties. At halftime I made it up to the box to chat with him for a few minutes and he was so happy to be there. Sure it was fun for him to visit is daughter in college 1,000 miles from home, but even more so, he was a basketball fan, watching one of the most electrifying games in one of the best venues in all of college basketball—that is what Zag basketball is really all about.
It’s the pure joy of a competitive and adrenalin filled game taking over the lives of 6,000 people in one building. And Saturday evening’s contest was one of the best; considering the student section was about an eighth of its normal size due to Winter Break, it was pretty impressive that the atmosphere still had the vibe it had.
The Bulldog’s trailed 10-0 to start the game; things looked grim. It wasn’t until Gary Bell Jr. scored at the 16:12 mark that the Zags slowly began their climb to a stunning 82-60 victory over the Broncos. The win moved the Bulldogs to 3-0 in the WCC. Bell finished the night with 15 points.
But it was big Sam Dower dominating again—off the bench—with 17 points that led the Zags to victory. Dower, by the numbers, should easily be starting over Rob Sacre now. It is unlikely that the 7’0” senior will be relinquished of his duties as a starter, but Dower is earning more and more playing time and getting it.
Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos were also in double figures as Harris notched 12 points and Pangos contributed with ten.
Not only was the offense very effective in the final 30 minutes of the game—as they turned a ten point deficit into a 22 point win—but they played as a team; and they played well. GU rallied for 17 assists, five steals, and seven blocked shots on the night. It was the best defensive effort I have ever seen out of any of these guys too! Not to mention every single member of the team played and scored in the game.
It was a night to remember in the Kennel, that’s for sure; and what better way to experience it than with my dad watching from above—literally, about 15 rows above me with a smile on his face.