With Laura Stockton, Chandler Smith, and Zykera Rice all graduated, the Gonzaga women have to fill three spots in their starting line-up. Luckily, their depth last season was so good that there are ready-made solutions at Lisa Fortier’s disposal. They also got a head start by going to Europe for a successful 4-0 foreign tour this summer.
Last season, the Bulldogs were two brutal late-season injuries away from a potential Sweet 16 berth. Their last minute loss to Oregon State in Corvallis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament highlighted their need for perimeter shooting that they sorely lacked all season.
Jill Townsend, one of their more capable shooters, was injured in the WCC semi-finals and could not play. She’s back and approaching 100 percent as the 2019-20 season gets going. Katie Campbell, the team’s leading shooter, is also back. Jessie Loera, who played both alongside and in place of Laura Stockton, is ready to take over the point guard position full time. She won the three-point contest at FanFest last weekend.
All of that is to say the backcourt seems pretty much set. The front court might be where there is a question. The Wirth twins are back for their junior seasons, and seem like the logical choice to take both forward spots, but AnaMaria Virjoghe is a legit center and could steal a starting spot. Either way, all three players will hold down the paint. The Wirth twins, especially Jenn Wirth, have started to expand their range to the three-point line. If they can hit deeper shots consistently, whoever is playing post will end up get easier shots.
Point – Jessie Loera (senior)
Guard – Katie Campbell (senior)
Wing – Jill Townsend (junior)
Forward – Jenn Wirth (junior)
Forward – LeeAnne Wirth (junior)
6th – AnaMaria Virjoghe (center)
7th – Louise Forsyth (wing)
8th – Kayleigh Truong (point)
9th – Melody Kempton (forward)
Fight for minutes: Kylee Griffen, Eliza Hollingsworth, Kaylynne Truong, Gillian Barfield
Kayleigh Truong is the more natural point guard of the Truong twins. She is expected to play right away to help alleviate Loera before taking over full time next season. Kempton received “fourth big” minutes last season and does a lot of little things well and should slot into that same role this year.
The back-up wing spot is the interesting battle. Lou Forsyth is in her third year in the program and was one of the highest rated recruits in program history coming from Canada. She’s a fantastic three-point shooter, but hasn’t quite put it all together yet. Kylee Griffen missed all of last season with an injury, but has great size at 6’2 and great rebounding and slashing ability. Eliza Hollingsworth is a wild card as a true freshman. She has the ability to play at the wing or as a forward inside, but seems like a player to watch next season more so than this year.
Last season, eight players averaged at least 20 minutes. There’s a good chance Gonzaga gets eight players to that mark again this campaign. Depth and versatility led them to their highest ranking in program history last year and they’re hoping a similar formula leads to more success this winter.