Tonight's matchup against San Francisco (6 pm tipoff, televised locally on KHQ) marks the last Gonzaga men's basketball game of a memorable (mostly) 2013 for the Zags. They went to No. 1 back in March, then a few weeks later, this happened. And now they've won 11 games to finish out the 2013 portion of the 2013-14 campaign.
But here's how things stand in Zagland at the end of the calendar year. Warning — there's some bad news ahead.
Compared to other successful basketball programs, I've always felt like Gonzaga has been shockingly immune to injuries. This year, that is hardly true.
Sam Dower Jr. missed Saturday night's game after falling on his back super hard against Kansas St. He's been positive about the injury, but it's uncertain whether or not he'll be playing tonight. He's not listed as a starter — that much is sure.
Speaking of pain, Gary Bell, Jr. injured his hand on Saturday night. And now the news has gotten worse — the hand is broken and it looks like the fiery guard will be out for a while.
Kevin Pangos hasn't missed any games, but his toe is bothering him. Don't laugh. Go try to jump if your big toe hurts. It's incredibly hard and you could tell that Pangos was in pain against Santa Clara on Saturday night. After getting some medical attention, though, he returned to the game to help the Zags pull it out against the Broncos.
There was something missing from Saturday night's game in the McCarthey Center against Santa Clara. What was it? Oh yeah, the 1,200 bonkers-to-quite-bonkers undergraduates you see bouncing gleefully on one entire side of the court. It's still Christmas Break and the students won't be back for another week. And their absence is hard to miss.
Damn, was it quiet in the Kennel last week and that may have contributed to an uncharacteristically slow start for the Zags, who struggled to pull away from Santa Clara.
If you're going to the game, you might want to down a Red Bull or something before taking your seat. They need some energy. I mean, I think the loudest people in my section on Saturday were the nuns who cheered on the squad while wearing habits and everything.
THE WOMEN'S TURN
The men's team has the luxury of playing its first four conference games of the season at home. That's not the case with the women Zags, who have to play their first three games on the road.
And the time away from the Kennel didn't start off well. The Zags fell 78-79 to Saint Mary's in overtime on Friday, despite 31 points from Haiden Palmer.