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In search of an identity: Kansas State punishes Gonzaga

Frank Martin was ready for everything Gonzaga had tonight. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Frank Martin was ready for everything Gonzaga had tonight. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Often times in press conferences you hear coaches say "We were out-coached, out-manned, out-schemed, out-everythinged".  This would be an ideal time for Mark Few to use that phrase.  What we saw tonight was a complete butt-whupping handed down by the Wildcats of Kansas State. 

Like we have seen so many times, in so many big games in the past few years, each and every one of Gonzaga's flaws was exposed on national TV.  Poor perimeter defense? Check, K-State shot 46% from three.  Lousy offensive execution?  Check, Zags shot 33% from the floor.  Abysmal rebounding?  Triple check, Gonzaga out-rebounded 36-23 unofficially. 

Tons of credit goes to Kansas State.  They are third for a reason.  What Frank Martin has done with that program after Bob Huggins left is remarkable.  Many other programs in that situation have simply faded from national discussion.  While it is insanely premature to write a team off in November, what I saw tonight was the difference between a potential final four team and a team that will scrape through the season and limp into the NCAA Tournament, at best.

a bit more after the jump...

Bare with me as I discuss another common sports cliche.  We often hear analysts and commentators say "If a team can't get up for this game, then something is wrong".  Tonight's was one of those games.  Not only that, but the Zags had NOTHING to lose in this one.  How do they respond?  Come out of the gates wide-eyed and flat, get down early, and virtually flat line the rest of the game.  Sure there were blips of life...but did anyone really believe this team ever had a chance.  More importantly, did anyone believe Gonzaga thought they had a chance to win?

Many people are rubbed the wrong way by a guy like Frank Martin.  Sure, he's constantly in the face of his players and can become overzealous, but does any coach get any more out of his players than Frank?  Short answer, hell no.  Before I get criticized for bashing Mark Few, this is not an attack on him.  This is a discussion about leadership and I did not see an ounce of it in a Gonzaga uniform tonight.  Plain and simple, end of story.

We can discuss Elias Harris' regression all we want this season, we can talk about Gonzaga' need to volleyball rebounds, and we can talk about David Stockton getting more minutes but until this team shows any kind of passion, it will all be for nothing.

While it is November and there is a ton of basketball yet to be played, Mark Few needs to take his team and do a little soul-searching.  With a schedule like this and in a conference where everyone is gunning for you, Gonzaga is nearing a very slippery slope.