It takes a total team effort to grow the way the Gonzaga Bulldogs did this season, and that means seeing improvement in each and every player on the squad. After achieving the best season in school history but not getting a chance to showcase it in the postseason, the Zags are still primed for something special next season.
Much of that is because despite losing seniors Katie Campbell and Jessie Loera, a clump of Gonzaga’s key players will be seniors next season, including Jenn Wirth. After operating in the shadow of Zykera Rice her sophomore season, Wirth took the step forward necessary this season.
She was third on the squad in scoring and led the team with 6.9 rebounds per game. Most importantly, she led the team in offensive rebounds, grabbing over two per game. This allowed Jill Townsend, a tenacious defender in her own right, to move her game more to the perimeter, a spot she was desperately needed for the team to win this season.
In 2018-19, Townsend shot a total of 52 threes. This season, she attempted 95. Townsend is not allowed to move her game outside without the development of Jenn Wirth in the post. The Zags need Wirth down low, bruising and grooving, to keep opposing defenses honest.
Jenn, alongside her sister LeeAnne, Townsend, and Louise Forsyth will all be seniors next season. For the Zags to continue to climb, everyone needs to continue to grow. For Wirth, that means getting even better at what she is already good at—finding those offensive rebounds, hitting those beautiful jumpers on the baseline. All around creating havoc within the halfcourt sets.
As a senior leader, those quiet games will also go more noticed next season. Wirth had an excellent season, no doubt. But in two games, the overtime loss to Stanford and the road loss to Saint Mary’s, she was virtually erased from the box score. Although both those games resulted in losses, the Zags are a deep enough team that no one player truly makes or breaks each night, but consistency will be the key for everyone next season.
Wirth led the squad with 313 field-goal attempts last season, nearly 10 per game. In five games last season, she attempted six or less field goals. Next season, that shouldn’t be happening. Wirth is going to be the focal point of the offense in the post, and she’ll need to figure out how do maximize her touches each game.
There is zero reason to suggest this will be an issue next season. Wirth’s growth throughout her time at Gonzaga has been on par with what we have come to expect from this program. Even with the hand injury in 2018-19, Wirth has not skipped a beat. That is what will make next year’s team so exciting. This year was just the beginning.