I'll probably have a more clear thought process tomorrow. Here are a few immediate thoughts about Gonzaga's upset loss tonight at the hands of the 8-14 San Francisco Dons. Feel free to rant, rave, or commiserate in the comments below.
There are a lot of stats to grimace at if you are so inclined. 13 missed free-throws, 8-25 combined shooting from Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray (1-10 from three), Robert Sacre with two rebounds (Meech had three). The list could go on and on.
A couple plays and themes really defined the game for me overall. First of all, bad things happen when you don't give Elias Harris the ball at least once per possession. I know Matt and Steven are the vets but the team thrives when Elias is consistently around the ball. We hit many lulls where he was a spectator and our guards either forced shots (see 1-10 from three) or turned the ball over. Secondly, our starting backcourt tandem is out of gas. It was clear within the first five minutes that Matt Bouldin was scraping the bottom of the tank for any kind of fuel he could muster and made some nice plays late but the fatigue was evident. Steven was the same way. Same as with the Elias situation, I realize these two are your leaders but the minutes they have played in the WCC is setting us up for inevitable failure. This is in no way an excuse for the loss or taking away anything from USF. Lastly, I really liked what Grant brought tonight but having him run the point freaks me out as much as Will Foster dribble driving from the wing (wait, both those happened tonight!). I'm also still a bit stunned that Gibbs tried to recapture the 1999 "Runner" moment in overtime. That one felt like a nightmare.
Like I've alluded to in the past, I'm not a big stats guy but they obviously paint a pretty clear picture tonight. I've been to some pretty awful Gonzaga losses, the 06-07 loss against Santa Clara at the Kennel and the 05-06 tourney loss against UCLA immediately jump out. This one ranks well below UCLA but easily above the SCU loss in K2. It doesn't carry the same season ending significance as that UCLA game did or the historic first home loss in the new building but this is a huge, huge, huge upset in terms of mental psyche and the overall big picture. It was setting up really quite perfectly. Gonzaga had already beat their three toughest conference foes on the road and obviously turned on the cruise control. Now it's time to get back to basics and just take them one game at a time. I'd love to say we can still win out and do this and that but, in my mind, it's all up in the air because I don't know how this group of guys is going to react to this kind of loss.
We've heard all year how this is the toughest team Mark Few has ever had. This ought to really test that.