Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Lady Zag Season in Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default Lady Zag Season in Review

    From the Slipper Still Fits:

    Year in Review: Women’s Historic Season
    What will next season look like?
    By Steven Karr
    Apr 17, 2019, 9:00am PDT

    The Gonzaga Bulldog women won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2015. They started the season with a program best 16-1 record, including a win over 8th-ranked Stanford (who made the Elite Eight). They shot up to number 12 in the AP Poll at the start of March, the best ranking in school history. They earned themselves a number five seed in the NCAA Tournament, also the best mark in program history. By all accounts, it was one of the most successful seasons we’ve ever seen. But because of how it all ended, it felt a little bittersweet.

    Gonzaga won a thrilling, double-overtime WCC semi-final over Saint Mary’s when Zykera Rice nailed a buzzer beater. But they lost Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend to gruesome leg injuries. The emotional tole and some hot shooting from BYU gave the Cougars the WCC Title a day later. Coach Lisa Fortier left the bench in the fourth quarter, and we later learned her brother passed away.

    Despite all the turmoil, the injuries, and the emotion, Gonzaga was still able to beat Little Rock in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They went toe-to-toe with Oregon State on their home court in Corvallis, and had Stockton and/or Townsend been healthy, the result may have been different. But the fact they competed at such a high level given the circumstances says a lot about the program Lisa Fortier has built in Spokane.

    This Season

    Gonzaga used a nine-player rotation all year. Eight of the nine played between 20-29 minutes. The ninth, Melody Kempton, played 14 minutes, and was second on the team in blocks. Seniors Laura Stockton, Chandler Smith, and Zykera Rice were named All-WCC players. Rice led the team in scoring, Stockton led the team in assists, and Smith led the team in minutes played while doing a little bit of everything.

    Jessie Loera really came on at the end of the season and led the team in steals in conference play. Katie Campbell shot 45 percent from deep, and at one point was third in the country in three-point percentage. Jill Townsend was the perfect energizer bunny off the bench and consistently hit big shots in crunch time. The Wirth twins, Jenn and LeeAnne, both took a step forward in their development in year two.

    They built the team on defense and depth. Teams scored just 58 points per game and only shot 37.7 percent from the field. Gonzaga forced 16.7 turnovers a game and scored 18 points off them. They out-rebounded teams, had a better assist/turnover margin, and rarely got their shots blocked. Their one big weakness is that they hit fewer than five threes per game, which came back to haunt them against Oregon State in the tournament, when they hit no threes until the final two minutes.

    Next Season

    The nice thing about having a ton of depth is that you have players ready to go the following season. Stockton, Smith, and Rice are gone, but six of the nine rotation players will be back and Lou Forsyth, the 10th player in the rotation who got minutes after Stockton and Townsend went down, will also be back. That’s seven players right off the bat. They also welcome three freshmen and two redshirts to the fold. Junior College transfer AnaMarie Virjoghe will slide into the front court. The 6’5 center from Romania averaged 15.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in her one season at Northwest Christian. She was named Cascade Collegiate Conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-CCC. She was also the MVP of the u18 National Championships as part of Romania’s national team. She is going to fill the void left behind by Rice.

    Kylee Griffen was a top 100 recruit coming into this past season, but an early season injury forced the decision to redshirt her. She is a 6’2 wing with incredible scoring and rebounding ability. She averaged 20 and 10 her senior year of high school and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee. She can provide the stat-stuffing ability that Chandler Smith leaves behind, but with a little more scoring ability.

    Then come the trio of freshmen. Eliza Hollingsworth is a 6’2 forward from Australia. With a crowded front court, she’s going to be fighting for minutes. She may not be a huge factor next year, but she has the ability to be a huge factor in the future when she adapts to the college game. She’s a versatile forward who rebounds well and has a ton of Australian national team experience.

    Last but not least, the Truong Twins. Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong are a pair of 5’8 guards from Texas. Kayleigh is more of a natural point guard who plays off ball screens really well, something Gonzaga does a lot of. Kaylynne is more of a “3-and-D” off-guard. In other words, she’s a good defender and can shoot from deep fairly well. There’s a need at the back-up point guard spot next year so I imagine Kayleigh may get minutes right away.

    There are a couple ways Coach Fortier can go with her starting lineup. She can just start all of her returners, including Jill Townsend, who is supposed to be ready for the season, despite having a metal plate inserted in her leg. Or she can keep Townsend in her sixth man role where she excelled last year and insert someone else at the wing. Lou Forsyth could start if she takes the next step in her development. Will both Wirth twins start or will Virjoghe take the center spot?

    Projected Lineup (10 player rotation)

    Point Guard: Jessie Loera
    Wing: Katie Campbell
    Wing: Jill Townsend
    Post: Jenn Wirth
    Post: AnaMarie Virjoghe

    6th: LeeAnne Wirth (post)
    7th: Lou Forsyth (wing)
    8th: Melody Kempton (post)
    9th: Kylee Griffen (wing)
    10: Kayleigh Truong (PG)
    Limited minutes: Hollingsworth, Kaylynne Truong, Gillian Barfield

    Final Word:

    There’s no reason that Gonzaga can’t get back to the Big Dance next season. They have plenty of experience coming back and some talented redshirts hitting the court. Lisa Fortier and her staff have this program operating at an incredibly high level, and if they continue their excellent player development, they will be a perennial top 25 team for years to come. Next year’s success will come down to Lou Forsyth taking the next step, AnaMarie Virjoghe becoming an instant force down low, and someone stepping up as the back-up point guard.
    Article Link: https://www.slipperstillfits.com/201...istoric-season

    What do you think of Steven Karr's proposed line-up?

    Do you think JW will supplant LW in the starting line-up? Will Anna start instead of one of the Wirth's? JT to start or come off the bench?

    ZagDad

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default

    If you click on the link above they have embedded the video of Zee's last second shot for the victory over St. Mary's.

    I have complained all year about players not following middle school basketball 101, stop the ball. Watch the video of Zee's shot, #21 of St. Mary's (6'2" Sam Simons) is right in Zee's path when Zee is passed the ball. When Zee starts to dribble across the top of the key, Simons does not hold her position, which would have forced Zee to dribble around her, she in fact, takes a step out of the key towards Chandler leaving the lane wide open for Zee to drive past and hit the leaning lay-up for the win.

    Had Simons just stayed where she was with her hands up, she would have forced Zee to drive a step or two wider, either making Zee's already difficult shot that much harder, having the clock runout before Zee took her shot or forcing a pass to CS for a hurried 3. In any case, stopping the ball, at the very least, would have forced a more difficult shot (by either ZR or CS) and at the best, the more difficult shot would have missed or the clock would have run out leading to a St. Mary's win.

    When a ball handler is driving the key, middle school basketball 101 says stop the ball, force the extra pass, do not give them a lay-up. It applies in the preseason games the first of November and applies in the post season come March.

    ZagDad

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,200

    Default

    thx for the breakdown......almost better then Zee's shot going in at that very last second was the stunned St. Marys players.......hand it to Megan M....she was trying to be proactive and ask for a timeout......

    that whole long weekend in Las Vegas was a lesson in life.....I was not as upset as I would have thought on the way home.....this was a picture of life....the good, the bad, and the ugly and we got to see it all.....the Zags men losing, the Zag women losing, the injuries and CLF's brother....I think all involved true character in how they responded....

    but Zee's last second shot in double OT will go down as a true classic Zag gem....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    383

    Default

    Next year is still in question. We have seven players with a ton of experience but from there... young and/or inexperienced.

    Lou, Ana and Kylee have a year of good practice time but little to no time under the bright lights. How they respond will answer some of my questions.

    Time on the court will be needed and a lot of players will need some time.
    I don’t see next year being like this one due to the inexperience of the bench... but that doesn’t go to say it will be bad. It will mean how they respond to the time they get.

    As for starters... as in years past, look for both Wirths to start. They have earned it. The question is who will be in for Jill while she is on a slow mend. Sorry, but I still think Lou needs more time off the bench and hopefully it will come. I also think the Truongs will get meaningful time on the court. They appear to be gamers. Also think that Mel will need to get better at the ten footer if she is to get more time on the court.

    As in every year there will be surprises...

    Go Zags!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default

    We all know CLF's tendency to start players who have "earned" (as in time spent on the court previously) their starter's position. As such, you can pretty much take it to the bank that come the first week of November, assuming no injuries and JT is ready to go, the line-up will be: #1-JL, #2-KC, #3-JT, #4-JW & #5-LW. Even non-bettors can go to Vegas and be assured of a winning ticket on this one.

    However, let's assume that we have a clean slate, and we need to put our best "team" on the court the 1st week of November, with no consideration to upsetting the team chemistry and without consideration to who may have "earned" (in CLF vernacular) the starting positions, who do you start?

    This is meant as no disrespect to LW and JW, as we have noticed that they got much better over the year and frequently were the more physical player(s) later in the year, but they do not have the fleetest of feet and simply cannot guard quick guards or wings. In addition they have had trouble constantly trying to front physically bigger/faster players (they get shoved out of the key leaving too much space for a pass "over the top") and/or guarding from behind by much taller and/or much more physical players (get pushed under the basket leaving the opponent wide open for a quick spin and lay-up). They also have had the ball knocked out of their hands much more often than the other players on the Lady Zags team. If you are going to play a high-low offense and do not want a bunch of help defense on the other end of the court, can you afford to have two players who have had trouble guarding taller/physical players, playing big minutes?

    This year, when either (or both) of the Wirths was constantly getting moved out of position, CLF frequently brought in either ZR, JT or MK to straighten things out. Sometimes you just need a cowgirl to wrangle the opponent out of position. Both JT and MK have that nasty streak and refuse to lose attitude that you can't teach. Both of these young ladies play far above their height, but neither is a long term solution at the post. I am in agreement with Skip, that Melody, is not quite ready for prime time just yet at the post position. She has great hops, great instincts and dogged determination, but not enough experience (particularly on the offensive side of the ball) yet to supplement starting over a Wirth at the post position. The post is not JT's position. She should play a #3 or a #4 in a pinch, but she is not tall enough to play the post for any serious number of minutes.

    Not having seen Anna or Eliza play yet, it is hard to make any informed choices, but we do know that Anna is taller than the Wirths, was conference player of the year (in NAIA) and has spent a year going against ZR and the Wirth's in practice. Eliza is a big body 6'2" international player and has spent time with the U-17 Australian national team. If she plays anything like Grace (A previous 6'2" Australian that played for the lady zags) did in her short time with us (she was an aggressive rebounder, could not be moved off the block and may have been the best passer on the team), would Eliza merit starting even though she is only a freshman and has not put in any time with the team?

    I think that team chemistry probably plays a bigger part of the team dynamics that we sometimes give it credit for and as such, the tried and true will probably be the best players to start. I hope that CLF shows more willingness to change her strategy when the game plan she put together is obviously failing. I hope that she is sometimes even quicker with the hook when a starter is simply not performing that day. Take her out, let her watch what is going on from the bench, then put her back in. I hope that LF gets the minutes she needs to become a valuable member of the team. I saw very few defensive lapses the last several games and she was one of our better 3 point shooters. Why CLF left her on the bench as frequently as she did is confusing. Finally, I hope that CLF will put players on the court that best match up with the opposing team. If this means Anna in the post with 4 guards, so be it. If it means Anna and both Wirths on the court at the same time, why not? Think outside the box and be willing to try things that put your team in the best position to win.

    Only six more months and a week of re-runs and left-overs,

    GoZags,

    ZagDad

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    383

    Default

    ZD... agree with a lot of what you are saying but the Wirths and their defense. As they may not be the fastest, their first first few steps and their reaction can be very good. Put with their height and length and with the right angles can give the player with the ball some challenges. As I recall, CLF had LW cover the “WCC player of the year” when she was playing in Spokane. And as I recall she was held to around 10 points below her average... and a lot of that was because LW did a great job of defending her. Her height and length stopped her in the first half and she didn’t start scoring until the last part of the game when others including Zee were covering her.

    As a So. I don’t see a whole game of playing their best... but as a Jr. and Sr. I will expect more.

    Every player will have things to work on over the summer to better themselves...

    Again it will be like two years ago where we will have a young bench that will need to be brought along. And pg will need to have a sub that will play well.

    Always fun helping the coaches

    Go Zags!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,200

    Default

    positive polly here....

    I think the team will do well..

    we need ELiza so I hope CLF doesn't even think about redshirting.....

    we have to believe, and hope, that the Truongs are as advertised...fast, quick and good shooters, and since they made their own video , confidence will not be a problem..

    the thing with lou from what I've heard is that getting the plays down pat is a problem.....but to me, the more time she gets to play, the confidence just soars.....we've seen her drive, we've seen her shoot 3's and can hit her FT's.......so I too want to see her play more.....CLF always talks highly of her....


    Next season really rests on getting our shooters open....

    Jill T stated that she will be back for this upcoming season....don't know if that means oct/nov.....she had a small plate placed, it does not need to be removed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    383

    Default

    I really have my concerns that starting Jill out to early isn’t the best for her or the team. Healing for day to day activity is one thing. To be put into high intense play is another. That’s why I would give her a year to heal and be 100% the following year. I’m not a doctor but have been around sports for many years and know how long it takes to properly heal for this type of intense play.

    I wish her nothing but the best.

    Go Zags!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,200

    Default

    this is Jill Townsend we're talking about........I doubt whether she'd want to stay out for a whole year......but time will tell..

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SkipZag View Post
    ZD... agree with a lot of what you are saying but the Wirths and their defense. As they may not be the fastest, their first first few steps and their reaction can be very good. Put with their height and length and with the right angles can give the player with the ball some challenges. As I recall, CLF had LW cover the “WCC player of the year” when she was playing in Spokane. And as I recall she was held to around 10 points below her average... and a lot of that was because LW did a great job of defending her. Her height and length stopped her in the first half and she didn’t start scoring until the last part of the game when others including Zee were covering her.

    As a So. I don’t see a whole game of playing their best... but as a Jr. and Sr. I will expect more....

    Go Zags!!
    Yeah I was afraid somebody would take my comments on the Wirths that way. Granted that there are games (or portions of a game), and maybe even the majority of games this past year where LW and JW were the superior or at least equal forwards and/or posts on the floor. We obviously know which games where LW and JW were definitely "not" the best solution to the players the opposition had on the floor.

    In our game against Oregon State, Head Coach Scott Rueck realized that his starting 6'8" center, Joanna Grymek, was a very poor match-up against 6'1" ZR, so he replaced Grymek with a much faster and more athletic 6'1" Madison Washington. Washington responded by scoring 12 points on 6-9 shooting and 6 rebounds (including 3 offensive) in 20 minutes. Grymek also played 20 minutes against GU and had 7 points (3-7 shooting) and also 6 rebounds. Rueck's decision to start Washington over Grymek made the Beavers a better team when matching up against the Lady Zags.

    In my obviously poorly worded, roundabout fashion, the question I was trying to convey was will CLF have the courage to look at the opposing team's line-up, recognize that her "standard" starting line-up is not our best match-up with the starting line-up of the opposition and be willing to make the changes in the starting line-up to achieve an advantage?

    Historically, CLF has steadfastly refused to change her starting line-up or change her game plan to provide a better match-up against the opposition. Has she learned from her experiences against BYU this year and will she be willing to alter the starting line-up to provide a better match-up against the opposition or is she going to continue to force that square peg in a round hole? IMO, what sets Paul Thomas, Jeff Judkins, KG, etc. apart from CLF is that the aforementioned coaches are willing to make changes to their line-ups and/or game plan to improve their chances of winning while CLF tends to leave the staff and game plan alone and just wants her players to execute her game plan better.

    As our league gets stronger, there will be times (and it happened several times this year) that the lady zags will not have the best 5 players on the court and may not even have the best "team" on the court. As you noted above, the players are expected to learn from their experiences, increase their strength over the summer and grow as players from their freshman year through senior year. The question is, like the players, will CLF continue to grow from her experiences this year or will it be more of the same next year?

    ZagDad

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    383

    Default

    We have seem CLF improve over the years as a game coach... which I believe to be the one individual responsibility of a head coach. Was she out coached a few times this year... yes. Will she learn from it... hope so.
    I thought she started the year very confident in her decision making during the game... but after the first BYU lose, I feel she may have started questioning some of her calls... hence slow on making some calls during the game. Reaction time can be a killer in a close game.
    As more experiences pass, I think CLF and her coaching staff will become even better....

    Go Zags!!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    9,331

    Default

    It's a good point ZagDad, but Rueck juggled his starting lineup all year. Tried Washington, Thropay and Grymek all as the starting 5. Even went w/ a 4 guard lineup and Corosdale as the only front court player for a couple games.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by seacatfan View Post
    It's a good point ZagDad, but Rueck juggled his starting lineup all year. Tried Washington, Thropay and Grymek all as the starting 5. Even went w/ a 4 guard lineup and Corosdale as the only front court player for a couple games.
    But that's the point, correct?

    Rueck continuously juggled his starting lineup, as you said, numerous times throughout the year. Whether that was in response to the opponent he was facing that day or in an effort to find the 5 which play the best together really does not matter. What matters is that Scott Rueck is willing to examine alternatives to his initial starting 5, to improve his team. Conversely, CLF has a history of establishing a starting lineup very early in the year, and, exclusive of injuries, essentially staying with that same starting 5 all year, regardless of the opposition, the opposition's starting 5 and/or the current level of play of her own starting 5.

    That does not mean the CLF is wrong in any way, shape or form. However, we have seen more and more coaches adjusting their starting line-ups either as a defensive response to today's opponent or to present a different offensive look to today's opponent. If your starting line-up does not match up well with today's opponent, why not be proactive instead of reactive and put a different team on the floor either to improve your defense, or your offense or both. Rarely, does the same 5 person lineup provide the best match-ups on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball for all 30+ games. If it really is, as CLF has said, not about who is starting, it is about the minutes you play (I somewhat disagree with her on this issue), why would you not revise your starting line-up to create the best match-ups for your team and force the opponent to respond to your changes instead of the other way around?

    ZagDad
    Last edited by ZagDad84; 04-23-2019 at 03:19 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    9,331

    Default

    To be fair to CLF, I think many coaches like to establish their starting 5 fairly early in the season and then stick with it barring injury or completely ineffective play from one of those starters. A few coaches are more likely to shake things up. VanDerveer doesn't seem to have a problem shifting her rotation around. I think this year was unusual for OSU because there was no Hamblin/Gulich to anchor the middle, so he just kept trying different options.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    383

    Default

    Lots of good points...

    I like what CLF does... to me it’s the reload philosophy. Put your time in and a chance to start... as the season goes on it isn’t about who starts as much as a game plan to take it to your opponent. The players understand that who is having a game will probably get the minutes... if you want more minutes, you work at getting better and having a game.

    I understand the match ups... but are you changing to match them because you don’t think your player can play against them? That’s what you said about OSU. If so, what kind of message are you sending? To me, I want my player to think they are better than their opponent.
    LW covering the “WCC player of the Year”...

    Just food for thought...

    Go Zags!!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    2,724

    Default

    I understand the match ups... but are you changing to match them because you don’t think your player can play against them? That’s what you said about OSU. If so, what kind of message are you sending? To me, I want my player to think they are better than their opponent.
    LW covering the “WCC player of the Year”...
    While there is some obvious differences between ZR, LW, JW & MK, the reality is that we can run our standard offense and standard defense with little drop off between the four aforementioned players. Some may be better on defense, some better on rebounding and some better on offense, but there is not a significant drop off when running our standard offense or defense.

    In the case of OSU, there is a significant difference between what Joanna Grymek could do (and how she would do it) and what Madison Washington could do (and how she would do it). Grymek could not follow ZR out to the 10' line (or further) because she would risk Zee driving right by her. But if Grymek does not follow Zee out, then Zee simply stops and pops an uncontested 10-12 foot shot. Rueck saw the problem matchup before the game and his solution was to give up 7" and put a player with similar speed and height on Zee to take away this big advantage that Zee would have had over Grymek.

    Yes, LW/JW and others did a fine job on YRB, a very good 5'11" forward. YRB is a very fine player, but she is considerably shorter than the Wirth's and her supporting guards did not shoot lights out from 3 which would have significantly reduced the help defense our guards and wings were able to provide on YRB. A better representation where we did not match up with the opposition was when BYU ran a 4-guard + 1 forward/post offense in the 2nd and 3rd games against GU. In these cases, BYU was shooting lights out from long 2 and from the 3 pt line forcing GU to move their guards, wing and forward out to cover them reducing the amount of help defense available. As BYU quickly moved the ball around and across the key, the GU switches became further and further behind, until the cougars got an open shot. LW/JW simply could not consistently keep up with the BYU guards and with the BYU guards hitting their long-range shots, the standard GU defense did not adequately match up with the BYU offense. The option, particularly in the 2nd game, was to run a similar offense (4-guard, + 1 forward/post) where we could have used LS, KC, JL, JT, CS, & LF to cover the 4 BYU guards and have used LW/JW/ZR in the post to guard Hamson/Moody/Salmon. Yet we never saw this line-up on offense or defense.

    After the success of the 4-guard offense in the 2nd game, and particularly with our loss of LS and JT, you could be more than sure that BYU would run the 4-guard offense again in the WCC Championship. GU still had 4 guards and we could have run a 4-guard offense at least to start the game or during the game, but CLF elected to run the same offense and defense that had not proved successful in the first couple of games.

    I am not advocating that CLF change her starting line-up weekly or even monthly. It is hard to argue with a coach who goes 29-5 with one of the losses to the #2 team in the nation and another loss to an elite 8 team. It is the three (3) losses to the same team with no changes in line-up or apparent changes in tactics after each loss to BYU which bothered me. IMO, CLF needs, at those rare times, to expand her thinking beyond her pre-planned game plan and starting line-up and instead of reacting to the changes made by the opposing coaches, think about making them react to changes that CLF could make.

    ZagDad

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •