Thursday, January 16, 2014

Zag Watch: Game after a loss edition

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 3:05 PM

click to enlarge Coach Mark Few takes the boys in blue down to Malibu tonight to face Pepperdine. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Coach Mark Few takes the boys in blue down to Malibu tonight to face Pepperdine.
Are you still sitting your bathtub, lamenting the Zags' inexplicable loss a week ago to the University of Portland? First off, you shouldn't have electronics that close to water and secondly, get it together — it's game day. Sheesh.

After that loss, Gonzaga had the entire week off, during which they had plenty of time to come back to Spokane and think about what exactly went wrong down in the Rose City. One answer, among others, was that the Zags gave up a hell of a lot of three-pointers. Eight of them, to be exact. The Pilots shot a sizzling 57 percent from long range in a game that saw Gonzaga down by as many as 16 points during the contest. The Zags didn't play horrible (but it wasn't pretty) down in Portland, they just got beat by a team that was amped up for the game...and shot the lights out.

Now, they're heading back on the road, this time down to Malibu to play in the shoebox-sized gym on the campus of Pepperdine, who is much, much, better than preseason prognosticators expected. The Waves (not the Tide, the Tsunamis or the Swells, but the peaceful, rippling Waves) are 4-2 in conference with impressive wins over BYU, Santa Clara and San Diego (whom they beat twice). Pepperdine is led in scoring by sophomore Stacy Davis, who has 15.5 points per game, followed by Brendan Lane, a transfer from UCLA, with 15 points.

This one won't be easy, nor will the rest of the road contests in WCC play for the remainder of the season. As Coach Mark Few said earlier this week, whenever the Zags take to the road in this conference, they've got a big bullseye on their back. 

Tipoff is slated for 7 pm. If you're in Spokane, the game is on KHQ. Elsewhere in the region, you'll find it on Root Sports. 

On Saturday, they make the short trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to Loyola Marymount, where they'll face off against savvy guard Anthony Ireland and his unpredictable Lions. That game is at 1 pm and also on KHQ or Root, depending on your locale.

There won't be a little number next to Gonzaga's name on your TV screen during tonight's game for the first time in a long, long while. After the loss, the Zags fell out of the AP, but are still ranked No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll. This is the first time Gonzaga has not been listed among the AP's top 25 since January of 2011.

In terms of RPI — the metric by which you can sorta, kinda judge team's NCAA tournament worthiness — Gonzaga is still sitting pretty at 28, thanks in part to a strong nonconference performance by the rest of the WCC, making their wins worth more, and a loss like what happened in Portland less of an impact.

Gary Bell Jr. is one of those players you don't always notice during the course of the game. He seems to score in spurts, but the Zags have surely missed the Seattle-area guard over the past few weeks while he's been out with a broken hand. In today's game notes, the team says that Bell was X-rayed earlier in the week and the healing is progressing nicely. He's currently wearing a "light brace" and is shooting at practice.

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