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Sports >  Gonzaga women

Gonzaga women focus on themselves, not NCAA guessing game

March 12, 2017 Updated Sun., March 12, 2017 at 5:57 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Jill Barta scored a WCC Championship record of 37-points against Saint Mary's last season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Jill Barta scored a WCC Championship record of 37-points against Saint Mary's last season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

That includes the uncertainties of the NCAA Tournament, including who, where and when the Zags will play this week.

Instead, her players are just working up a sweat preparing for Selection Monday.

“You can always work on yourself,” said Fortier, who led GU to a West Conference Tournament title last week in Las Vegas.

She gave her players two days off after the emotional high, but they were back at it this weekend. They’ll practice again on Monday, then settle into chairs at 4 p.m. for the selection show.

In the meantime, Fortier admits to checking out the various bracketology web sites. As of Sunday afternoon, GU was all over the board, and the map:

+++Charlie Creme, who works with, has GU has an 11 seed, playing in Seattle against Syracuse. predicts GU will have a 13 seed and play in Austin, Texas against No. 4 seed Texas. sends the Zags even farther afield, to Durham, N.C. Picked as an 11 seed, they would face No. 6 West Virginia in a foursome hosted by Duke.

Prior to that, the same sites had GU traveling to Los Angeles and Lexington, Kentucky.

One caveat for fans: the NCAA has moved the first- and second-round women’s dates up a day. Instead of running from Saturday through Tuesday, they will begin on Friday and end on Monday. That means less time to make travel plans.

Now in her third year as head coach, Fortier said she’s “not veteran enough” to accurately predict where GU will be seeded.

The Zags (26-6) are ranked 63rd by RPI but 38th according to Sagarin. A win over ninth-ranked Stanford is offset by losses to WCC also-rans Pepperdine and Pacific. Also, the WCC as a whole performed poorly in non-conference games, hurting GU’s strength of schedule.

Bottom line: Fortier expects a 10, 11 or 12 seed – typical spots for a mid-major winner.

“That’s not a terrible place to be,” said Fortier, who two years ago took a 10th-seeded at-large qualifier to Corvallis, Oregon, and knocked off seventh seed George Washington and No. 2 Oregon State to reach the Sweet 16.

Can this team repeat the feat?

Quite possibly. They’re peaking at the right time, having blown away their WCC tournament opponents by an average of 23 points a game. Forwards Kiara Kudron and WCC tournament MVP Jill Barta looked dominant last week.

“This is how you want it to happen – you want to play your best right now and we did in Las Vegas,” Fortier said.

In particular, Fortier liked her team’s strength on the boards, especially in the WCC final against Saint Mary’s – and in running the floor.

“They’re proud of themselves, but we still want to make some noise – the season is far from over,” Fortier said.

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