SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Few’s Gonzaga team is very much a stranger to losing.
For only the second time this season, the Zags (27-2, 13-1 West Conference) were on the losing end Saturday, this time 91-78 to BYU (23-7, 12-3) in a contest that serves as the crowning achievement on the Cougars’ NCAA Tournament resume.
Few, who’s in his 21st season as head coach at Gonzaga, sees the opportunity to learn from the defeat for his national powerhouse program — a lesson that’s universal at any level of sports.
“It’s a great message for me, it’s a great message for the rest of our staff,” Few said during a TV segment posted on Twitter by KHQ-TV’s Jordan Caskey. “It’s certainly a very strong message to the players and I hope they understand and heed that … and it’s a message to our fans.
“You’re not gifted anything.”
"It's a great message for me, it's a great message for the rest of our staff. It's certainly a very strong message to the players... and it's a message to our fans. You're not gifted anything." - Coach Few to @SeasonsOnTheFly following the loss at BYU. pic.twitter.com/W6MRSIc42q— Jordan Caskey (@jordancaskey) February 24, 2020
The loss snapped several impressive streaks for Gonzaga — a 19-game winning streak, the country’s longest road winning streak (18 games), 40 straight WCC regular-season wins and six straight victories against BYU.
“The strength of this team, and they’ve done a wonderful job with this all year, is how we play together — how we move the ball and make the right decisions,” Few said of his No. 3 Gonzaga squad.
Few also explained what can happen if teams don’t play together, especially this late in the season with postseason play quickly approaching.
“We didn’t have that (against BYU). If you don’t have that, if you’re not the toughest team on that particular night and you’re not dialed into your assignments, we’ll get beat,” he said.