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Gonzaga’s Few doesn’t have one-track mind when it comes to rankings

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams, right, and center Przemek Karnowski have helped the undefeated Zags to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released on Monday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams, right, and center Przemek Karnowski have helped the undefeated Zags to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released on Monday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga coach Mark Few has plans Monday.

No, he’s not going to be refreshing Twitter every three seconds to see if the Zags are ranked No. 1 in the nation. He’s not going to be glued to ESPN’s bottom-line ticker seeking poll updates.

“I won’t (be checking the polls),” said Few, after the third-ranked Zags crushed Pepperdine 96-49 on Saturday in Malibu. “I’m sure somebody will alert me. My kids are into it.

“No, I’ll be checking our ball-screen coverage and our rebounding effort and our offensive execution.”

That should keep him busy for about five minutes. The Zags didn’t have many breakdowns against the Waves.

Ball-screen coverage? Lamond Murray Jr. managed just 12 points, nine below his WCC-leading average, and the Waves shot just 30.2 percent.

Rebounding? Gonzaga cleaned up, 44-32. Offensive execution? The Zags made 58.6 percent of their shots, Throw out 3-pointers and Gonzaga was 36 of 49 (73.4 percent).

But you get Few’s drift. He’s not going to do cartwheels on Jan. 30th if the Zags (22-0) vault past AP No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Kansas. He will be appreciative of the recognition.

And he’s probably not going to stand in front of the media and complain if the Zags are ranked No. 2 or stay put at No. 3.

Few has mentioned several times that Gonzaga has reached No. 1 before, spending three weeks at the top late in the 2013 season.

“I think you have to understand the only poll we really want to be No. 1 in is the one at the end of the year,” he said. “These things just kind of track who is winning and losing. I will say as we get deeper into the season the polls get more accurate because everybody gets a better feel for everybody’s schedule.

“It’d be nice, nice to be recognized for the school and the program and even for Spokane, but we’re just focused on going out and hopefully playing better Thursday (against BYU) than we did (Saturday), which will be hard to do.”

The polls were split last week with Kansas ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll, followed by Villanova and Gonzaga. No. 4 Kentucky dropped two games last week, including a home loss to the Jayhawks on Saturday that keeps Kansas in the No. 1 discussion. Villanova is in a similar position after beating Virginia at the buzzer on Sunday.

Few’s thoughts have filtered down to his players. At least, it sounds like it.

“I honestly do not care,” senior guard Jordan Mathews said. “I know we’re supposed to say that. The numbers are going to change, your ranking is going to change. You have to get better week by week; that’s all that matters.”

“It’s all about big discussions, discussions about Gonzaga and stuff like that,” senior center Przemek Karnowski said. “I don’t even look” at the polls.

Still, eyeballs across the country will be fixated Monday morning on those very rankings. They will be debated and/or celebrated, but they are largely ceremonial.

But they matter to the masses, and perhaps deep down, to the players.

“I feel like we’re doing our jobs, we’re playing really well as a team,” freshman Zach Collins said. “If that means we’re No. 1, that means we’re No. 1. But that’s not what we’re worried about right now.”

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