Lack of Success and a Team Named Gonzaga
This is sort of a consequence of having to learn new playing styles and having players transfer but even having one tough season can have a domino effect on the confidence of a team going forward. Unfortunately for the Cougars, not getting into the NCAA Tournament has been something that the Cougars can’t even relate to. To want something you have never tasted is tougher than fighting for something you’ve experienced before. On the current roster, only Luke Worthington has been to the NCAA Tournament (2013) and if you notice, he is probably the team leader as far as motivation goes.
All this team knows is the NIT, and as much as they want to make the Big Dance, they don’t know what it feels like. And who knows, maybe that makes a bit of a difference in those tight games against good teams.
Also, the WCC is appearing to be a one bid league with the exception of when Gonzaga loses in the WCC Championship game. How much motivation does that take from players when they know Gonzaga is on their own level of talent and know that unless they win 25+ games in a season they won’t make a the Big Dance? Suddenly the decision of Mika, Toolson, Bryant, Chapman, Colvert and other players makes more sense. Yes playing for UVU isn’t as good of a team or conference, but at least there is a realistic shot of making the NCAA Tourney.