Gonzaga notebook: Once in the middle of the action, Dan Dickau calls NCAA Tournament on radio
SALT LAKE CITY – From Gonzaga’s first Associated Press All-American to first-round draft pick to broadcaster, Dan Dickau has seen all levels of the basketball world.
After six years in the NBA, Dickau turned his attention away from playing and toward media row. Luckily, he earned a broadcasting degree from GU, which helped guide him to his future profession.
His first taste of broadcasting came at an Oregon state tournament, where he called one of Kyle Wiltjer’s three state title wins.
“I guarantee I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it and I was like, ‘That was a lot of fun,’” Dickau said.
After a short stint on the Portland Trail Blazers’ staff, Dickau was quickly hired into a three-man team on KHQ’s broadcasts of GU games.
With Greg Heister at the helm and a replacement needed for Craig Ehlo, KHQ wanted Dickau and former Zag Richard Fox to provide color commentary.
Fox and Dickau were college roommates at GU, so Dickau jumped at the opportunity. For the last eight seasons, the three have worked alongside, their voices filling the houses of Zags fans in the Northwest.
“Heister’s energy and passion for Gonzaga is off the charts,” Dickau said. “I have had people come up and ask me kind of in a negative way (about working with Heister), and I am like, ‘I love working with Greg. He is awesome.’ I wouldn’t want to change working with him as the play-by-play for GU.”
Because Dickau and Fox were close before the former was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, their relationship on the air with their headsets on is unique.
“We bring a little different perspective for the game,” Dickau said. “He obviously loves the big-man plays. I like to give guards a little more credit at times. But we have fun with it. How many times do you get to work with a couple really good friends?”
Dickau has called games for Pac-12, CBS Sports Network, and ESPN on top of his work for KHQ, but it’s his current responsibility that stokes his broadcasting fire.
For the last four seasons, Dickau has taken his voice to the airwaves for Westwood One during the NCAA Tournament.
“I love doing the Gonzaga games. I love growing a broadcasting career … and those (networks) are awesome, but at the end of the day, Westwood One is the NCAA Tournament,” Dickau said. “So being able to now call NCAA Tournament games for four years is something I would say is the highlight of my broadcasting career every year. It is the thing I look forward to more than anything else.”
For the last three Big Dances, Dickau has been placed in the Zags’ first- and second-round pods, giving him the opportunity to continue watching them in the postseason.
“Luckily for me, this is the third year in a row I have had the pod Gonzaga has been in, so one thing it does, is that it lessens my prep for Gonzaga and helps me focus in and get to know the other teams a bit more,” he said.
On Thursday, Dickau had four games for which to prepare. That meant eight teams’ worth of interviews on Wednesday and a full days’ worth of air time on Thursday.
He was on the call again on Saturday for GU’s 83-71 win over Baylor, which included more than one high-flying play from the Zags, something Dickau has to be neutral toward.
“With Westwood, as well as the other networks, I work for (outside of KHQ),” he said. “When Gonzaga is involved, I am completely impartial. I call it down the middle. On KHQ, I try to be as down-the-middle as possible, but obviously it is a Gonzaga-centric broadcast, so there is going to be a little bit of pulling for the Zags in those situations. But here, you have a national audience and I am expected to provide insight on both teams.”
Dickau has made a splash in the broadcasting world, but there is plenty of time for him to work his way up the professional ladder.
“I am really going to try and make a push for the broadcasting and with any career, it is a gradual profession,” he said. “Improving, networking and trying to get better. I like the trajectory and I enjoy what I do.”
Zags weather Baylor run with timely timeout
It appeared the Bulldogs were well on their way to a nation-leading, fifth consecutive Sweet 16 after taking a 39-23 lead into halftime.
But Baylor came out like a bear awakening from an early hibernation and scored 11 points in the first 2 minutes of the half.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few was quick to call a timeout, as the Zags were getting pinned against the ropes.
“We have to get back to bringing the fight to them,” Few said. “They jumped us and we were back on our heels. That was not how we played the first 20 minutes. We were the ones making plays, we were the ones hustling and getting to those 50/50 balls.”
The Bears pushed GU’s lead down to five before Brandon Clarke scored the next six points to push the lead back to double digits. Corey Kispert knocked down a 3-pointer right after Clarke’s run to hold the double-digit lead.
“We all knew they were going to make a run, we just didn’t think it was going to be that soon and that explosive,” Kispert said. “(Few) just kind of told us to stay the course. We needed to match their level of energy and aggressiveness. We should have known they were going to be really aggressive coming out of the gate after being down at halftime.”
Crandall’s lob gone wrong
During Gonzaga’s pregame shootaround Saturday afternoon, Clarke often found himself urging teammate Geno Crandall to put more air under the lobs he was throwing to the 6-foot-8 big man.
At least the point guard delivered on that promise.
Crandall’s first-half lob for Clarke didn’t come close to reaching its intended target, but it found a much better one, dropping into the hoop for three points to give the Bulldogs a 19-9 lead against the Bears.
“I actually think when I throw lobs to (Clarke) and he dunks it, if I’m behind the 3-point line it should probably for three points,” Crandall said. “But no, that’s the first time that happened and just like we drew it up. Come in, pretend like you’re throwing a lob and let it go in the rim.”
Crandall clanked and missed on his only other 3-point attempt, taken later on in the half.
Clarke found humor in the sequence.
“I told him if he can do that every time, just go ahead and do it,” Clarke said. “In the game, I was just kind of shocked to see it go in, because I saw that it was probably going to land in the rim, so it was best to not touch it.”