Texas Basketball: Chris Beard downplays significance of Gonzaga game

The biggest game of the non-conference slate lies ahead for head coach Chris Beard and No. 11 ranked Texas basketball on Nov. 16. Texas is set to host head coach Mark Few and the No. 2 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs at home at the brand new Moody Center in front of a national television audience on the night of Nov. 16.

Beard and the Longhorns will be looking to make a statement to the entire college hoops landscape if they can take care of business against Gonzaga in the third game of the season.

But this obviously won’t come easy for the Longhorns. Gonzaga already beat Texas in convincing fashion last season, when the Longhorns fell short on the road on the west coast by a dozen-point margin to the Bulldogs.

From hearing his tone regarding the game, you can tell that Beard is not just focused on the task ahead on this night against the Zags, but also on the entire non-conference schedule.

In his weekly press conference on Nov. 15, Beard downplayed the significance of the Gonzaga game compared with the rest of the tough opponents that remain on the non-conference slate. He essentially implied that Gonzaga was just another difficult task as this team will get against the likes of the Tennessee Volunteers, Illinois Fighting Illini, etc.

Chris Beard says Gonzaga is “the next game on the schedule” for Texas basketball

Here’s more on what Beard had to say on the matter of the Gonzaga game and how it fits into focus for the rest of the non-conference schedule this season.

“Every game’s an opportunity. It’s the next game on the schedule. We certainly understand that a lot of the hype on this game revolves around the opponent and their success in basketball, the consistency in their program. We welcome that. To our guys, though, the reality is this is one of many. We’ve got Illinois and Tennessee and Creighton coming up, and then our league, most every night, is like the game we play tomorrow night. That’s an exciting thing. That’s why you come to Texas. We certainly have to be up to play the game. We understand that. But I think a big part of this is we can’t be too up either.”

Beard clearly wants his team to prepare each game as the previous one. He wants this team to be extremely prepared and carry a high level of energy and motivation into every game, regardless if the opponent is Gonzaga or the Houston Christian Huskies.

It’s worth noting, though, that Beard did give credence to the quality of a team that Gonzaga has this season in this press conference. He noted that while “this is the next game on the schedule for Texas” his squad will still “have to play well against one of the best teams in the country”.

This approach to pregame preparation and mindset is nothing new for a head coach such as Beard. He doesn’t want this team to get too high, or too low, no matter who they are playing, especially during the non-conference slate.

But the fact of the matter is that this is the highest-ranked game not just on the non-conference schedule, but for the entire regular season for the Longhorns. With the Baylor Bears and Kansas Jayhawks both tied for No. 5 in this week’s AP Poll, those are the next-highest-rated opponents on the regular season schedule for the Longhorns at the moment.

Texas heads into this highly-anticipated matchup against the Zags with a record of 2-0 (0-0 Big 12) following a dominant 51-point win at home over Houston Christian on Nov. 10. The tipoff time between Gonzaga and Texas is set for 8:30 p.m. CT on Nov. 16.