The Gonzaga Bulldogs women’s college basketball team has started their season on a historic pace. It’s safe to say as a result of such a start, the program is one of the top teams in the country. Technically, the Bulldogs (16-1, 5-0) are off to the best start in program history. After their 97-71 win over the Portland Pilots, Gonzaga is one of two teams (BYU) still undefeated in WCC play.
“I just hope the players are enjoying it a little bit,” head coach Lisa Fortier said to Jim Allen of The Spokesman-Review. “Coaches are always just looking to the next team and what we’re not doing well.”
First thing to remember is that Gonzaga is very talented. This is a team that has nine players that average 15+ minutes this season. Of those nine players, 7 players average 20+ minutes per game. Coach Fortier has a special mix of experience to work with this season.
Of course, this means you will always have fresh players, but they have to perform as well.
Certainly, Gonzaga has those players who are performing exceptionally. Under Fortier, the Bulldogs have seen the postseason every season. It is also important to notice that in three of those four seasons, Gonzaga has won the WCC championship.
With Fortier, Gonzaga will always
- Protect the basketball (13.8 turnovers per game)
- Cause turnovers (10.3 steals per game, 1st in WCC. 165 steals, 20th in NCAA)
- Rebound the basketball (36 rebounds per game, 2nd in WCC)
- Make it tough for teams to score (allowing 56.5 points per game and 36.6% FG percentage)
All of a sudden, Gonzaga is making some heavy noise in the NCAA.
Gonzaga is one of those teams that can turn to numerous players to lead on the court. Up to now, it starts with Zykera Rice. The 6-foot-1 forward from Tacoma is averaging 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and is shooting 51.6% from the field. She starts it all with her play. As long as she continues to bring her game, the Bulldogs will be a formidable opponent. Rice can stretch the floor with her mid range jumper and she is difficult to score on when she plays defense.
“I understood my role and just made sure that I did everything I could with the minutes I was given, and it got me here,” Rice stated to Jim Allen about her role early in her career.
Another key point to remember is that Rice is not the only option for Gonzaga. Chandler Smith and Jill Townsend are two key players for the Bulldogs. The guard combo is averaging a combined 19.1 points per game. The x-factor of the two is Townsend. The Okanogan product can spread the floor beyond the arc and is a willing rebounder.
To put it another way, Gonzaga is a team that is well balanced and disciplined.
Fortier is making sure the players are improving every practice. With attention to detail, she points out the mistakes that are made during the game in film.
“When I look at film and some of the mistakes we’re making, we still have some room for growth,” declared Fortier speaking to Allen. The players are taking the words of Fortier and becoming a more complete team because of it.
“There’s always room for improvement, in every game, any litte thing,” stated guard Katie Campbell to Allen.
“The coaches are always taking to us, don’t look past anyone,” Townsend spoke to Allen. “We really are trying to take it one game at a time.
Gonzaga is still one of the favorites to win the WCC this year. The Bulldogs still have matchups with Saint Mary’s and BYU in conference play. This team will be ready to go and it is time that the rest of country begin to pay attention to what is being molded in Spokane.
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