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Basketball and fans return to the Kennel

2020 Numerica Kraziness In The Kennel Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

I watched a live stream of Kraziness on SWX, the sports subsidiary of KHQ, the Spokane station that telecasts Gonzaga games locally.

The opening shot of the telecast was a filled to rafters Kennel with an enthusiastic and deafening crowd, chanting, stomping and singing. While it was great to see the fans back, only about 20% were complying with the “masks indoors” requirement and I wondered about COVID protocols for the players in the upcoming season.

The festivities started with the lights dimming followed by a video on the overhead scoreboard of last season’s highlights interlaced with images of the new players. Player introductions next starting with the walk-ons and ending with Timme and Nembhard. With all the players interlocking arms on a platform, another highlight video played.

Greg Heister and Dan Dickau would call the events and sounded to be in mid-season silliness form. The camera did pan to a shot of Brian Michaelson sitting next to Timme, but neither broadcaster mentioned Mark Few nor his suspension. After a child’s dunk contest, the action quickly moved to the three-point shooting contest.

In the two first round match-ups, Nolan Hickman would face Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard would square-off against Matthew Lang. Surprisingly, at least to me, Hickman and Nembhard won. Hickman looked incredibly smooth and confident while Nembhard appeared vastly improved from where he was last season. At the end of the final, they were tied during regulation and went to a shoot-off. Nembhard missed his first shot, Hickman hit his and was declared the winner.

The next event was the skills challenge. Ben Gregg vs. Martynas Arlauskas and Drew Timme vs. Andrew Watson in the opening round. The competition consisted of dribbling through cones, passing threw a hoop, dribbling to the other end of the court to hit a lay-up, a free throw and a three-pointer. Ben Gregg easily defeated Watson in the final, looking very composed and I don’t think he missed a shot in either round. The only other items of note, Watson shot about five free throws before finally hitting one and Timme missed about five three-pointers in failing to advance.

Next was the dunk competition featuring Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton, Kaden Perry and Hunter Sallis. Strawther’s two preliminary dunks were seamless and impressive. Perry was incredibly powerful but not as fluid as the smaller players. Bolton can fly and will have some impressive fast break dunks during the season, but it was Hunter Sallis as the clear winner. Sallis’ best dunks were one where Hickmam bounced the ball off the side of the glass which Sallis grabbed in the air to slam. The last, in the final against Bolton (Strawther was robbed), was a perfect between the legs while in air windmill dunk.

Sadly, the SWX live stream ended after the dunk contest, forcing fans (at least in Spokane) to wait two hours to watch a tape delay of the scrimmage on KHQ/SWX broadcast.

For the scrimmage, the Blue team consisted of Sallis, Watson, Nembhard, Gregg, Arlauskas, Perry, Lang and Graves.

The White team: Strawther, Hickman, Timme, Holmgren, Bolton, Few and Brooks.

Officially, the scrimmage ended in a 38-38 tie. Julian Strawther filled up the stat sheet for the White team with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Drew Timme and Rasir Bolton added 7 points each and Holmgrem chipped in 6.

Andrew Nembhard led the Blue squad with 10 points (2 for 3 from deep), 2 rebounds and three assists. Ben Gregg had 8 points, Hunter Sallis 6 and Kaden Perry had 6 points in only six minutes on 3 for 4 shooting.

Random thoughts on some players:

Strawther was the best player on the floor. Skilled, confident and all over the place doing the right thing. He looks to me as the starter at the wing

Nembhard was also great, his three ball looks smooth with better form and a quick release.

Watson looks fit, springy and demonstrated some good handles. His first shot was a drive to the hole from the top of the key and he hit a three from the top of the key.

Holmgren had trouble dribbling into traffic, but I counted three blocks and a sweet drive to the rim.

Hickman hit a three and a nice lob in the lane. He’s too good not to get big minutes.

Kaden Perry swatted a Drew Timme layup and ran down the floor for a dunk.

Ben Gregg can do a little bit of everything and has great instincts.

Sallis’ had a nice turnaround jumper in the key and grabbed two offensive rebounds before the put back.