The old saying in basketball is that you can’t teach seven feet. Granted, in women’s basketball, the height has to drop a bit, but it still applies in the situation of 6’5 Romanian center Anamaria Virjoghe.
Virjoghe saw few minutes this season, and it was rather clear why. The redshirt sophomore shot just 28.1 percent from the floor, and impossible number to try and keep a low post player on the court with. That, behind the value of the Wirth twins up front, is much of the reason Virjoghe only played 7.7 minutes per game last season.
It was hardly all bad, however. In those 7.7 minutes, she averaged two rebounds per game. She also swatted 12 shots, good for fourth on the squad, in those limited minutes. You can’t teach 6’5 here, and if Virjoghe is able to find her offensive groove, those 7.7 minutes should expand next season.
That is largely because the Zags don’t have a player of her size anywhere else on the squad. Few teams do. But it is up to Virjoghe to earn those minutes, because the balanced Zags have plenty of bigs in line for minutes.
With the Wirth twins expected to eat up a majority of the starting minutes and Melody Kempton serving as a key bench piece, Virjoghe will also have to compete with 6’1 forward Eliza Hollingsworth and 6’2 forward Kylee Griffen. Both of those players did not see time last season due to injury.
If Virjoghe can establish herself as a suitable big body down low with consistent enough offense, that should be enough to carve out some minutes. Head coach Lisa Fortier loves to run a deep rotation, and Virjoghe’s value as a rebounder, shot blocker, and overall shot alterer is something few other players on the squad can rally around.
When Virjoghe arrived at Gonzaga after transferring from Northwest Christian College, there was no secret amongst the coaching staff that she would take some time to mold into an efficient player. Player development is exactly what Gonzaga does best and we might see that come to fruition next season with Virjoghe.