It's Tuesday, college basketball fans!
So you know what that means, right?
Texas at Arkansas?
Of course, but ...
We're just one day away from an updated Projecting the Field?
Sure, but ...
It's traveling day for Gonzaga?
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.
Yes, it's traveling day for Gonzaga, which means this Tuesday is like so many others before it. Mark Few and his Zags will (for the zillionth time) board a chartered plane, then fly across the country for a scheduled Wednesday night rematch with 15th-ranked Tennessee that will arguably serve as the most difficult task (in terms of opponent and atmosphere) Gonzaga has faced all season.
And that's saying something.
Because Gonzaga faces difficult tasks more than DMX faces weapons charges.
That's the question the nation is asking now that the Zags have gone from the preseason top 10 to unranked thanks to an 8-4 record featuring three consecutive losses. The loss at Arizona was reasonable, loss to Connecticut a heartbreaker. But what followed were terrible losses to Portland State and Utah. So now the Zags are low on wins but high on Marriott points, and the consensus among basketball people is that it's all because Gonzaga is simply tired -- having already traveled to Orlando, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Pullman, Wash.
Not true, Few insists.
His team is just ... "wounded," Few said Monday night by phone. "I would describe us as wounded."
|It's been nothing but agony for Austin Daye and Gonzaga since A.J. Price's dagger shot. (AP)|
Charge him with first-degree Zag-slaughter.
The crime happened in Seattle on Dec. 20 when Price hit that awkward/second-chance 3-pointer to force Gonzaga into overtime in a game the Huskies ultimately won 88-83. According to Few, that loss -- and not necessarily the loss, but how the loss happened -- shook his team more than he realized, and then three days later they were caught either thinking about UConn or Christmas (or both), and the result was a 77-70 loss to Portland State.
So now the Zags weren't just shaken, they were spiraling.
And then came the subsequent loss at Utah.
So now they're 8-4 and heading to UT.
"The good thing about (a tough schedule) is that you get the chance to get some great wins, which we've done," said Few, noting victories over Maryland, Washington State and Tennessee. "But the downside is that if you drop a couple it can mess with your confidence, and these past couple of games I don't think we've been as confident as a group as we were just 10 days ago."
Again, blame Price.
Not the schedule.
Not the travel.
"It's crazy, but if A.J. Price's 3-pointer doesn't go in we probably don't drop the next two just because of mental confidence and swagger and belief," Few said, pointing out that if Price's shot doesn't fall he genuinely believes his team would be 11-1 and ranked in the top five today. "If that dang 3-pointer doesn't go in then the schedule is probably OK. But it went in, and the matter in that it happened just kind of drained the life out of us."
"We've talked about it," Few said. "We've got to get it back."
Or risk falling to 8-5.