Gonzaga women’s basketball held its annual Fan Fest on Saturday to give fans a first look at this season’s squad.
The evening consisted of a game of knockout, a 3-point shoot out and a 20-minute scrimmage.
Here are our five biggest takeaways:
Welcome Back, Elle
After only a 10-game season last year due to knee injury, Elle Tinkle made her return to the Kennel. She participated in the 3-point contest and the scrimmage.
While she had a bit of a slow start, Tinkle found her groove in the scrimmage, where she scored seven points on 3-6 shooting in 18 minutes.
Students and fans undoubtedly missed Tinkle’s offensive presence on the floor, but the team also missed what they consider her greatest asset: her energy.
“The energy that she brings is something she does best,” head coach Lisa Fortier said. “She keeps this team alive and she changes games. It’s so great for her to get to come out here and play in from of the fans in the Kennel, and its really good for us to have a player of her caliber and versatility.”
After making the First Team All-West Coast Conference and WCC All-Freshman team last season, Jill Barta seems ready for another standout season, leading on the scoreboard with 14 points, three blocks and one steal in the full 20 minutes.
Laura Stockton took command of the floor, finishing with four points and three assists in 20 minutes.
Fellow backcourt partner Zhane Templeton had a quiet night, but made her presence known on defense with a lot of pressure on the ball, and one block.
All three sophomores were forced into challenging roles last season due to injuries that plagued the team. Although some of those injured players are back, Barta, Stockton and Templeton are expected to be key contributors.
Zag fans can expect to see a lot of fast paced offense and running the floor this season, which was apparent from the first three plays of the scrimmage.
While there were three turnovers, it was clear that quickness will be key for GU.
“We want to run fast and we want to play fast tempo,” Fortier said. “You have to take your lumps and bumps with that early if you want to up the ball with passing and the dribbles in a hurry.”
The quick pace will allow for some easy buckets and will spread the floor, creating opportunities for perimeter shooting.
“We have a lot of athletic players and we have a lot of people that can shoot the open 3,” Barta said. “I think when we get the ball going and we start running, they can’t stop us.”
The Bulldog’s sharp shooting was on full display, with Mackenlee Williams and Emma Stach making 18 and 17 3-pointers respectively, in the final round of the three-point shoot out.
After only having four true guards last season in Stockton, Templeton, Stach and Georgia Stirton, the Zags enter this season with a total of eight guards.
With the return of Tinkle (out with injury), Williams (redshirt) and Chandler Smith (redshirt), and the addition of freshmen Corryn Douglas and Jessie Loera, the quick offense Fortier is looking for is well within reach.
“[That depth] allows us to do things like pressure the ball on the full court and defense and it allows us to run the floor hard,” Fortier said. “We have three point guards that can take over fairly seamlessly so it just allows us to play a lot harder than we ever have and really get out and after people because we will have subs at that position.”
Replacing the Front Court
There was a hole in Gonzaga’s roster that needed to be filled after the entire starting front court graduated.
The Zags gained depth in the backcourt, but they lost some in the front.
With Wolfram still out, the Zags have no true center — only four forwards. Returners Barta, Kudron and Zykera Rice all had strong showings on Saturday with Rice tallying six points and four rebounds, and Kudron scoring nine points and getting seven boards.
Freshman Grace Collet did not score but pulled down two rebounds.