Basketball is a team effort, so if you are looking towards the success of a season, you can obviously point the fingers at multiple players. For the Zags, redshirt senior Anamaria Virjoghe was a big reason for the Zags maintaining NCAA Tournament relevancy.
Virjoghe’s size at 6’5 was always her biggest selling point. But for the bulk of her Gonzaga career, she was stuck behind the more athletic and agile forwards of Jill Townsend and the Wirth twins. When all three players departed, someone needed to step up in the frontcourt, and Virjoghe did exactly that.
She averaged 18.9 minutes per game this season, starting all but one game, and grabbed 5.5 rebounds and blocked 1.3 shots per game. Her per 40 minute averages put those numbers at 11.7 and 2.8, respectively, exactly the sort of defensive presence required for a stout defense like Gonzaga’s.
The big story for Virjoghe was a slow but steady unearthing of her offensive potential. Virjoghe always looked comfortable on the defensive end, bruising in the post, gathering rebounds, and blocking shots. However, she often looked tentative on offense. She would often times pass up shots to a different teammate.
Virjoghe only attempted five or more field goals in a game 10 times this season. However, seven of those games came in the final eight game. After a brutal showing against BYU in February (0-for-6 from the floor), Virjoghe rebounded with 12 points off of 6-of-9 shooting against Santa Clara.
All of this culminated in the Zags’ first round game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska dared Virjoghe to shoot all game, giving her endless amounts of room for mid range jump shots. The Gonzaga big obliged, repeatedly, scoring 10 points off 4-of-5 shooting.
Put together, it was a solid season for the Gonzaga forward in her final year. As one of the four starters head coach Lisa Fortier needs to replace next season, the Zags will definitely miss her defensive presence in the post.