Women’s notebook: Zags memorize ‘the book’
For every game, Gonzaga women’s basketball players watch the condensed version of hours of video, sit through two team-scouting sessions and must memorize “the book” compiled by one assistant coach that lists the strengths and weaknesses of every player.
The Zags (16-3, 6-1), who re-entered the rankings this week at No. 25, travel to play Loyola Marymount (5-13, 2-5) on Thursday and Pepperdine (5-13, 1-6) on Saturday.
But starting today, the players will begin the process of getting to know their opponents down to the minutest of details.
“The assistant coaches really do a great job. They know how much they rebound, their best moves and study their defenses,” senior guard Haiden Palmer said. “They watch six or seven of their games and analyze their tendencies. Then they give us a little printout on it and they quiz us as they get us prepared to play.”
For the Jan. 11 game against San Diego, coaches prepared a six-double-sided booklet that listed all the Toreros’ players. It included statistics, game results and biographies – complete with photos – of all the players. The day before a game, the full team has a film session to “go through our defense and their players,” coach Kelly Graves said.
At that practice, Graves sometimes has players from the men’s team take a few minutes to learn his opponent’s plays so the women’s team can have a live team to go against. At other times, he simply splits his team into blue or red jerseys.
“I think it’s good for your team to run what the other team is running,” he said. “It kind of sears it in their brains.”
Then on the morning of the game, the players again meet for film and Graves quizzes them about the other team’s players.
“By then, they should have the scouting report memorized,” he said. “I’ll say, ‘(Washington State guard) Tia Presley, and how are we going to defend her?’”
Graves said he strives to have his coaches and players prepare for every game the same.
“All I can talk about is LMU on Thursday. We never overlook anybody,” Graves said. “Pepperdine will not be talked about until Friday morning.”
Graves continues to say that this is one of the best defensive teams he’s had at Gonzaga.
“We are top 10 or 20 in almost every defensive category,” he said. “I like that we are getting into some people. And, our defense is producing points, which is what you have to do when your offense is struggling.”
Cougs hit: After knocking off several ranked opponents en route to a 5-0 start in Pac-12 play, Washington State lost a 59-57 nail-biter Sunday to a Utah team seeking its first Pac-12 win.
The Cougars go on the road to take on Oregon (9-8, 0-6) on Friday and Oregon State (10-8, 2-4) on Sunday. WSU did not have star guard Lia Galdeira against Utah.
Coach June Daugherty said Galdeira took two vicious charges in the win over Colorado and was too sore.
“She might as well live in the training room right now,” Daugherty said. Galdeira “and our training staff are doing everything we can to get her muscles relaxed.”
It will be a game-time decision whether Galdeira, who averages 18.6 points a game, plays Friday. With the loss, the Cougars went from a tie for the conference lead to tied with California for third place behind USC and Stanford.
Asked if a healthy Galdeira would have changed the outcome, Daugherty gave credit to Utah (8-9, 1-6).
“Utah came in here really hungry. I give them the respect they’ve earned,” Daugherty said. “Look at the Pac-12. With all 12 teams, anything can happen. We hate to lose.
“But I can tell you when those Cougars walked into the gym (Tuesday) morning at 6:45, they were ready to go.”