HONOLULU – Even on island time, Gonzaga’s next game at the Maui Invitational is coming in a hurry.
The 11th-ranked Bulldogs won’t be able to stew on the 3-pointers they missed, the defensive coverages they blew or turnovers they committed during a 73-63 loss to second-ranked Purdue on Monday.
Aside from a few meals, treatment sessions and an abbreviated film session, the Bulldogs won’t have time for too much else before they face Syracuse at 11:30 a.m. (PST) on Tuesday in a second-round Maui Invitational matchup on the University of Hawaii’s campus.
“You have to put this one aside and go out and compete,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, adding the team’s next game is “like, I don’t know, 16 hours from now.”
Not too far off, actually.
The Bulldogs wrapped up against the Boilermakers at approximately 2 p.m. local time. After cooling off, debriefing in the locker room and visiting with reporters for a short postgame news conference, Gonzaga left SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sherriff Center just after 2:30.
A 9:30 a.m. (local time) tipoff on Tuesday against Syracuse means Gonzaga would be required to be back at the same gym approximately 17-18 hours later.
The Bulldogs (2-1) will do some quick scouting on the Orange (3-1) – assistant Stephen Gentry was in the stands Monday watching a Maui Invitational opener between Syracuse and Tennessee – but might have to rely more on things like competitive stamina and effort to pull off a win Tuesday morning.
“I don’t have much (on Syracuse), I’ve been focused on (Purdue), we’ll watch them tonight,” Few said. “It’s the quickest turnaround ever. It’s going to be the team that competes, man.”
Gonzaga’s longtime coach couldn’t reiterate those points enough to reporters in postgame comments on Monday, so one can only imagine how many times his players heard the same things once the Bulldogs turned the page from their first loss.
“Obviously the biggest one is just the quick turnaround and totally different style,” Few said. “It’s just kind of a team that, whoever competes the best usually wins this one. It’s not about really analyzing matchups and no practices or anything so it’s not going to be breaking down or anything. You’ve just got to go out and compete.”
Before the 2023-24 season, Gonzaga wouldn’t have needed to watch much Syracuse film to get an idea of what the Orange would try to do at both ends of the floor. For the first time since 1975-76, someone other than Jim Boeheim is leading Syracuse’s program, following a 44-year run from the man who ranks second in career wins by a Division I coach (1,116).
The Zags have history with Syracuse, losing 87-65 to Boeheim’s team in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and Few has even more history with the program’s now-retired coach. The two formed a relationship in the early 2000s while traveling to various Nike events, and Few credits Boeheim for welcoming him into a broader coaching circle at a point when Gonzaga still hadn’t achieved the national success it’s enjoyed over the last 10-15 years.
“He’s just a great guy and a great friend and he’s meant a lot to me during my career, too,” Few said “He’s one of those guys on those first Nike trips, I was intimidated walking around with (North Carolina coach) Roy Williams and coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) and Boeheim and P.J. (Carlesimo) and (Arizona coach) Lute (Olson) and all these guys. He took me under his wing, let me into the card game which was kind of legendary there. We’ve been buddies ever since.”
Boeheim’s supposed to be in Honolulu this week as a spectator and Few expects the two to catch up over dinner at some point, but don’t expect Syracuse’s last coach to spill any trade secrets about his successor, Adrian Autry, who’s been at his alma mater as an assistant and associate head coach since 2011.
“I’m excited to watch Adrian be able to take over for my crotchety old buddy,” Few said, unable to resist one final jab at Boeheim while speaking at a Maui Invitational press conference Sunday . “I’m surprised he’s not here getting some free cookies in the back or something.”
Autry has Syracuse off to a 3-1 start, including a tense come-from-behind win over Colgate in which the Orange overcame a 46-30 halftime deficit . The 51-year-old who played point guard for Boeheim in 1990-94 is doing things differently, scrapping the patented 2-3 zone his predecessor used and switching to a more traditional man-to-man scheme.
“I think it’s great that he’s putting his own stamp on it and doing it his own way and the way he wants to do,” Few said. “I think that’s super important. You can’t be somebody you aren’t, you’ve got to be authentic, so that’s the biggest thing.”
Syracuse led by as many as eight points against Tennessee on Monday, but the Orange weren’t able to gain much traction on the offensive end after falling into a 30-25 halftime hole. They lost 73-56 while shooting 21 of 60 (35%) from the field and conceding 13 offensive rebounds.
Syracuse didn’t know who it would be playing on Tuesday when its own game wrapped up, but Autry was asked about the challenge of facing another top-15 opponent less than 24 hours later.
“I don’t think we look at it as being another top-15 opponent,” he said. “We look at ourselves as some of those top teams in the country. Really just being ready to play, make shots, do the things we know we can do, don’t be stagnant.
“I feel like we play defense at a high level, and I feel like if we do that tomorrow we’re going to get a win, so I ain’t worried about none of that.”