As many college basketball fans probably saw, North Carolina, Michigan St., Michigan and Kansas St. all lost on the road against unranked opponents. While I think Florida St.is a good team, it would be worthwhile to also note that none of the opponents were as good as the St. Mary's team that Gonzaga got stomped by on Thursday. The reason I point this out is that when you are dealing with college athletes, inconsistency will always be an issue.
There is the old adage that every season, your team will play three nearly perfect games, as well as three truly awful games. The other 25 games are the true gauge for what the team is capable of. Unfortunately for Gonzaga, one of those truly awful games happened on the road against an excellent team on national television. There is no need to harp on what went wrong (lots) and what went right (not very much), but instead the focus of the coaching staff should be on what changes can be made to ensure improvement and growth before the trip to Provo.I'm not going to pretend to know what exactly is wrong with Robert Sacre. I'm hard pressed to believe that the only ailment he is currently suffering from is a thumb injury, because he is playing with none of the emotion and fire that he has always exuded. Frankly, when Rob isn't playing with energy, he is a below average basketball player. If he is suffering from a physical injury, I sure hope the coaching staff takes the time to consider resting him until he is healthy, because right now there is no reason not to start Sam Dower.
The other change that must be considered is starting either Marquise Carter or Guy Landry-Edi at the small forward position. You simply can't play 4 vs. 5 against the elite teams on the schedule. Mike Hart has a role on this team, but he can't be on the court against the starters for elite teams. When you have a guy on the court that is no threat whatsoever to create offense. it impacts how everyone else must play and takes guys out of a comfort zone. My personal belief is that after rolling with some of the freshman mistakes of GBJ and Kevin Pangos early in the season, it's time to let Landry-Edi make some mistakes and learn through them.
There is right around two months until the start of the NCAA Tournament, which means there is plenty of time for this young Gonzaga team to grow. The last thing you want to see is a team peak in November and December, which certainly was the case for some Gonzaga teams in recent years. However, this team still has a very high ceiling, and if the coaching staff can continue to grow and develop the talent at its disposal, this group will be a tough out in March. By the way, I do expect the Zags to bounce back with a mentally tough performance and pick up the 71-64 win over LMU.