February 28, 2014 in Sports

End of Jaz era: GU’s Redmon, other seniors, play final home game

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tyler Tjomsland photo

Gonzaga guard Jazmine Redmon (34) drives against Iowa State during the first half of the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2013, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
(Full-size photo)

With her team’s offense struggling and Gonzaga up only six points Thursday night against Saint Mary’s, senior guard Jazmine Redmon started driving to the basket.

Gaels guard Kate Gaze hammered Redmon, who threw up a prayer as her body flew toward the hardwood. The shot hit the rim and bounced in. As she lay on the floor amid a roar from the crowd, Redmon didn’t wince in pain or complain to the referees.

She shot a smile that stretched from Mead to the McCarthey Athletic Center.

“I knew we needed to attack,” Redmon said after the game. “The ball went in. It was pretty exciting.”

She and fellow senior guard Haiden Palmer and senior center Stephanie Golden will don their Gonzaga uniforms on their home court for the last time today as the Bulldogs complete their regular season at 2 p.m. against Pacific (17-10, 12-5 WCC). The Tigers are riding a six-game winning streak and sit in third place in the West Coast Conference.

With the 75-65 win over Saint Mary’s, the Bulldogs won their 10th straight West Coast Conference title, of which Golden and Redmon contributed to four. Palmer played for three championship teams after transferring in from Oregon State.

“We are blessed to have two senior guards,” Graves said. “They show the young kids the way. They have been great teachers.”

Born to lead

After the Gonzaga women’s basketball team’s offense laid an egg in the road loss Feb. 15 at BYU, one voice ended the silence in the locker room.

It was Redmon, who, along with Golden, were the only two current players who saw action during the Bulldogs’ run in 2011 to the Elite Eight.

Asked why she felt like she needed to speak up after the BYU loss, Redmon said it was just second nature.

“Growing up, I was always in the leadership role. I didn’t want it when I was younger. I just didn’t want all that pressure,” she said. “But as I’ve grown up, I’ve seen it as something I’m good at.”

Before she became a Zag, Redmon willed her Mead High School basketball team that wasn’t even supposed to win the Greater Spokane League to the State 4A championship game in 2010. However, the Panthers fell 56-52 in overtime to Auburn Riverside.

That year, Redmon was named the GSL’s basketball most valuable player and was also the league’s defensive MVP for soccer. She completed her triple feat by running a leg on the Panthers’ state-champion 1,600-meter relay team.

“I’ve been here 15 years and followed the area even before that when I was a coach elsewhere,” Graves said. “I would say she’s one of the top five athletes to come out of here.”

The coach said that Spokane-native group includes Briann January, who starred at Arizona State and plays for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, and former Gonzaga basketball greats Katelan Redmon and Heather Bowman.

“They were all really good in basketball. But Jazmine may be the best all-around athlete,” he said.

For four years, Redmon excelled at those unseen things that don’t necessarily end up on the stat sheet but tend to bind a bunch of talented athletes into a team.

“What I appreciate the most is that she has all the intangibles. She’s competitive, unselfish, she’s a leader. She’s a great defender. She is our most vocal player,” Graves said. “Her name isn’t going to appear on our (all-time) top-scorers list. She keeps us organized. That is critical. You need players like that.”

Redmon focuses her efforts to getting other players the basketball. She has 380 career assists, currently ranking her fifth in program history. That means Redmon’s passes led to at least 760 points for her teammates.

“If I could pick one teammate I’m most proud of, it’s Jazy,” Palmer said. “Against BYU, we didn’t win, but she carried us. No matter what you ask her to do, she’ll do it.”

“In practice, she is the one who gets us together,” sophomore forward Kiara Kudron said of Redmon. “When we get on the floor, it’s her defensive energy that leads us. With her and Haiden and Stephanie leading us, we can go far.”

Winding down

Redmon said she can’t believe her run as a Zag is coming to an end.

“I still feel like a freshman sometimes,” Redmon said. “I looked at the calendar. It kind of blew my mind knowing how fast time goes.”

While her chase of the state title came up short for Mead, Redmon said she hopes to write a happier ending at the end for the finale of her collegiate career.

“Sometimes I try to remember what it felt like to be in the Elite Eight. I can’t put it into words, just the excitement and happiness to get to that milestone,” she said. “Our goal is to get back to the Elite Eight, so this team can experience what it was like.”

What Redmon lacks in numbers, Palmer more than makes up. She leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points a game and the 5-foot-8 guard also leads in rebounds (5.7 a game) on a roster that has 10 players who stand 6 feet or taller.

“Nobody plays harder than her,” Graves said. “She’s one of the toughest kids I have ever coached. In the big games, she tends to step up.”

Palmer was the West Coast Conference’s newcomer of the year in 2011 while averaging 12.4 points per game.

Last year, she was named the WCC tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and she led Gonzaga in scoring with 12.5 points per game. With 272 career steals, Palmer will finish her career with the second-most steals in team history after only three years with the program.

“It’s tough,” Palmer said, when asked to reflect on the end. “Just thinking about not playing in the Kennel in front of these fans is going to be hard … it’s sad.”

Redmon, a physical education major who is on track to graduate this spring, said she relies on Palmer.

“She keeps me calm when I’m super, super nervous,” Redmon said. “She’s an amazing basketball player and a great friend. It’s even cooler to have her as a teammate.”


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