This year, the Kraziness means that much more. Gonzaga men’s basketball still plans to hold its annual preseason event Kraziness in the Kennel on Thursday in an McCarthey Athletic Center where there won't be any fans in attendance.
Instead, any and all wishing to attend the event will be able to catch a live broadcast of Kraziness in the Kennel when it gets underway at 8 p.m.
“The 2020 edition of Numerica Kraziness in the Kennel will be broadcast live locally on KHQ,” Gonzaga Athletics said in a news release. “The event will occur with no fans in attendance, part of a controlled environment in Spokane coordinated by Gonzaga University and its Athletic Department.”
There won’t be any players hustling down the stands to the cheers and high fives of an elated fanbase, the bleachers won’t be bouncing up and down uncontrollably as the student section gets really into Zombie Nation and new students won’t get to make this their inaugural Kennel experience as in year’s past.
But in the absence of the traditional fanfare that is customary to the usual Kraziness in the Kennel experience, fans watching from home can relish this year’s event as the premiere opportunity to see one of the most revered GU rosters in history showcase their acumen on the court heading into this season.
The component of Kraziness in the Kennel that takes front stage every year is the white vs. blue team intersquad game. Men’s basketball head coach Mark Few splits his roster up into two teams that go against each other for 20 minutes to preview fans with what they can hope to witness from the team’s members when they get into more serious competition once the season begins.
At last year’s Kraziness in the Kennel, fans got to see grad-transfer guard Admon Gilder strut his stuff as he threw down relentless dunks throughout the entire contest and Corey Kispert proved his imperativeness to the team’s season going forward after he dropped 11 points en route to a blue team victory. This year perhaps offers an even greater thrill as far as the multitude of exciting talent that the Zags can hope to see from their roster.
“Put simply, Gonzaga can win it all because it has the players to do so,” ESPN college basketball insider Jeff Borzello said about the prospects of this year’s GU squad. “Corey Kispert is a preseason All-America-caliber player, Joel Ayayi is a bona fide scorer and Drew Timme should take a big step forward. And Jalen Suggs might be the best guard entering college basketball not named Cade Cunningham.”
The hype around players like Kispert, Ayayi and Timme can’t be stressed enough heading into this pivotal season for GU, and Kraziness in the Kennel will hope to affirm many of the expectations that fans have for the three stars before the season gets underway.
The preseason all-WCC Zags aren’t the only trio garnering mass attention from anyone with an eye on GU basketball this season. Kraziness in the Kennel will be the first time that the public will get to bear witness to the most hyped collective of incoming freshmen that the Zags have ever cultivated, known as the ‘tricky trio’ of Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris. The three actually all came on a visit to GU during last year’s Kraziness and got to witness for themselves the immense gravity of the Kennel when it’s in full swing.
There’s no shortage of anticipation for the swath of second year players that are hopefuls at Kraziness this year either. Sophomore and Spokane native Anton Watson looked explosive last season but missed the last 14 games of action so Zag fans will be thrilled to see him back on the court. There’s also center Oumar Ballo who came to GU with a fair amount of buzz surrounding him before redshirting last year, and 7-foot center Paval Zakharov showed promise during the minimized time that he saw on the court last year.
“Hopefully Zakharov was not discouraged [by his role last season], because in his limited time on the floor he showed he is good enough to play at Gonzaga,” SBNation writer Keith Ybanez said. “There is a lot to like about his skillset, and it is easy to see his fit in the Gonzaga system.”
Between the scrimmage and the on-the-court contests, which looks to be a 3-point shootout and skill challenge as in past years, virtual spectators will get plenty of time to witness what this year’s talent brings to the table.
This year’s Kraziness in the Kennel will also host interviews with players and coaches which will be recorded for fans to tune into live. This could potentially serve as a good time for the team to elucidate some of the previously indefinite circumstances surrounding multiple components of this upcoming; such as nonconference scheduling, COVID-19 protocols for the student-athletes over the season and the prospective layout of the 2021 NCAA championship playoffs.
So, despite the unprecedented nature of this year’s Kraziness in the Kennel and the elimination of fan attendance which often serves as the most sacred component of the entire event, this year’s rendition offers perhaps a more speculative experience where fans will gain insight into the many questions they have about the Zags’ volatile season both on and off the court.
Kraziness in the Kennel will be broadcast live Thursday at 8 p.m. PST on KHQ-TV.