April 17, 2014 in Sports

Two GU women’s basketball assistants resign

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Two assistant coaches have resigned from the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, meaning new coach Lisa Fortier will be looking to hire three assistants to replace herself and two others.

Fortier was named the new Bulldogs coach on Monday to replace Kelly Graves, who left April 7 to coach at Oregon.

While they were offered positions, longtime assistant Jodie Kaczor Berry and one-year assistant Nicole Powell have instead turned in their resignations, Fortier said.

“Nicole is going to play in the WNBA this summer. She was planning to do that,” Fortier said.

Powell, a former star at Stanford, coached this fall under Graves. She was named to the WNBA All-Star team in 2009 and won a title in 2005 with the Sacramento Monarchs.

“I’m not sure what (Powell) is going to do after the WNBA, but both have put in their resignations,” Fortier said.

While Oregon hasn’t made an official announcement, Graves confirmed Wednesday night that both coaches will eventually join his staff. Attempts to reach Berry were not successful.

Berry leaves after 11 years at Gonzaga and six years as the top assistant after Jennifer Mountain left in 2008 to become the head coach at Santa Clara.

Under Graves, Berry coordinated the Gonzaga offense while Fortier focused on the defense of the team that finished 29-5. The Zags also won their 10th consecutive regular-season West Coast Conference championship and earned their sixth straight appearance to the NCAA tournament.

“We have a large pool of very qualified people,” Fortier said. “We hope to get them sometime next week.”

Letters of intent

The coaching news came on a day when most universities announced new signed recruits. But Gonzaga put off that announcement after one recruit was vacationing with her family and the other was waiting to sign after school, Fortier said. A third hopeful is injured.

“We won’t make the announcement until we get their letters,” Fortier said. “We’ll wait for the group.”

The Bulldogs signed three players last fall: guard Georgia Stirton of Melbourne, Australia, who is transferring in from North Idaho College, 6-foot-3 forward Jill Barta from Fairfield, Mont., and Lexi Bando, a 5-9 guard from Willamette High School in Eugene.

Bando’s coach, Paul Brothers, said earlier this week that she and her family were having a conversation about how to proceed.

Fortier said she hasn’t heard anything different from Bando.

“A release has not been requested. I’ve talked to her a lot. I know it’s a hard time for her and her family. It’s confusing,” she said.

Fortier said she’s unsure how Gonzaga will proceed if Bando asks to be released from her commitment.

“We really haven’t dealt with this before,” Fortier said. “We are trying to figure it out ourselves, to be honest.”

Washington State

Washington State announced the signing of 6-2 forward Louise Brown of Park Orchards, Victoria, Australia. Brown helped her state team earn a gold medal in the Under 16 Nationals in 2010 and the Under 18 Nationals in 2011.

“Louise is a very versatile athlete with a tremendous ability to rebound and run the floor,” coach June Daugherty said in a news release.

She joins a previously signed class that includes 6-2 guard Ashley Bolston of Medford, Ore; 5-9 guard Caila Hailey of Inglewood, Calif.; 6-3 forward Nike McClure of Tenino, Wash.; and 5-8 guard Pinelopi Pavlopoulou of Athens, Greece.

Last year Washington State made the postseason for the first time in 23 years before falling to Montana in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Cougars finished the season with a record of 17-17.

Idaho

Fresh off a 25-9 season, Idaho coach Jon Newlee announced the addition of 6-4 post Tayla Corrigan from Adelaide, Australia.

Corrigan joins early signees Bethany Krause, a 5-9 guard from Centerville, Ohio; Renae Mokrzycki, a 6-foot forward from Melbourne, Australia, who is transferring in from North Idaho College; and 6-1 post player Geraldine McCorkell, also of Melbourne.

Eastern Washington

The Eastern Washington Eagles did not sign any additional players, but coach Wendy Schuller signed three high school seniors last November.

The class includes 6-foot forward Mariah Cunningham, of Central Valley; Kiana Brown, a 5-8 guard from Triangle Lake, Ore.; and Delaney Hodgins, a 6-foot guard from Pasco.

Hodgins is the younger sister of Hayley Hodgins, who averaged 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds last year for the Eagles. Hayley Hodgins, who will be a junior next fall, was named honorable mention to the All-Big Sky team for EWU, which finished 16-14.


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