#29 Gonzaga Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
#29 Gonzaga Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview
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Gonzaga lost only two non-conference games last season and followed it up with just a couple losses in West Coast Conference play. But the Bulldogs were upset the first round of the NCAA Tournament by James Madison and that was obviously a disappointment. This is still the team to beat in the WCC, but there are some major changes to the program. Longtime assistant Lisa Fortier is stepping into the head coaching job and the Zags will have to get along without longtime leaders Haiden Palmer and Jazmine Redmon.

2013-14 Record: 29-5, 16-2
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lisa Fortier
Coach Record: 0-0 at Gonzaga, 0-0 overall

Even though Gonzaga can score points, they win games with their defense and rebounding and that will continue even without Palmer and Redmon. Forward Sunny Greinacher and center Shleby Cheslek will spearhead the rebounding effort. Both averaged 5.4 rebounds per game last season and will be asked to do even more this time around. Both are also capable shot blockers and that is a big part of the Gonzaga defense. Greinacher, a 6-4 senior, is also the team’s top returning scorer with 11.8 points per game. She is ready for a massive senior season. The frontcourt depth will not be an issue with Kiara Kudron and Shaniqua Nilles. Kudron has been efficient when she can find the minutes.

Creating turnovers may be more of an issue for this team. Palmer and Redmon totaled 169 of the team’s 395 steals. But the real problem will likely come at point guard where Palmer and Redmon, who averaged a team high 3.5 assists, will be tough to replace. To make matters worse, backup point guard Danielle Walter is not returning for her senior season. Junior college transfer Georgia Stirton will be thrown into the mix, as will some other inexperienced players. As a result, Gonzaga will have to get good leadership out of the rest of the backcourt. Senior Keani Albanez can step into that role, but it remains to be seen if she is a viable point guard option. Albanez would be much more effective off of the ball where she can keep knocking down three-pointers. Lindsay Sherbert figures to start on the wing beside Albanez. Sherbert is a versatile scorer who can knock down shots and use her 6-0 frame to finish around the basket. It is Albanez and Sherbert who will do a bulk of the scoring for the backcourt.

Final Projection:
This team is a point guard away from being special. And there could be an inexperienced one hiding on the roster. With games against teams like Dayton and Iowa in November, the Bulldogs and Coach Fortier will not have much time to sort everything out. But by the time conference play rolls around, this will be the best team in the WCC and one with aspirations to win a game or two or three in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Georgia Stirton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Keani Albanez, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Lindsay Sherbert, Senior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Sunny Greinacher, Senior, Forward, 11.8 points per game
Shelby Cheslek, Junior, Center, 4.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.1 (45th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 56.5 (13, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.0 (60, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.4 (23, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (141, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.9 (143, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.6 (191, 8)
Rebound Margin: 6.7 (31, 3)
Assists Per Game: 16.1 (34, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (31, 1)


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