The Gonzaga women spent Wednesday afternoon working on a few fine points.
They certainly have the time – perhaps too much.
By the time they take the floor on Monday in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals, the 14th-ranked Zags will have gone nine days playing without a game.
“Now we’re trying to figure out how to get their legs back because after two days, their conditioning goes,” said head coach Lisa Fortier, who gave her players Sunday and Monday off after winning the WCC regular-season championship last weekend.
“So we’re just trying to do some fun things, refine some things and work on some new sets, timing – and not get rusty,” Fortier said.
That’s the biggest challenge, thanks a new WCC Tournament format that gives double byes to top seeds Gonzaga and BYU.
The tournament begins Thursday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, with eighth-seeded Portland taking on No. 9 San Francisco, and No. 7 Santa Clara against No. 10 San Diego.
The Portland-USF winner advances to play fifth-seeded Loyola Marymout on Friday. The winner plays No. 4 seed Saint Mary’s in Saturday’s quarterfinals for a chance to play GU.
In the meantime, the Zags will arrive in Vegas on Saturday, extremely well rested and ready to take care of business.
“We’re rarin’ to go,” sophomore guard Jill Townsend said after Wednesday’s practice. “But it’s tough to wait around to find out who we draw.”
Odds are it will be LMU or Saint Mary’s, both of whom have given the Zags tough games in what has been a strong year for the conference.
Saturday’s home game against LMU went down to the wire, while Saint Mary’s gave the Zags all they wanted in both meetings, falling 74-62 in Spokane on Jan. 3 and 66-52 in Moraga, California, on Feb. 2.
Should the Zags advance to Tuesday’s final, they could face BYU for the third time, with the opportunity to avenge a pair of two-point losses to the Cougars.
Fortier and her players didn’t embrace the idea of a third game against BYU, but they didn’t shrink from it either.
“It would be really nice. We want that rematch,” said Townsend.
Fortier was more circumspect.
“I actually don’t care, but I’m certainly not afraid of it,” Fortier said. “We talk about it recruiting – we want a recruit to go out and see everybody, and see that we’re the best.”
A rematch with BYU isn’t a given; neither is the Zags’ seed in the NCAA Tournament. With a 27-3 overall record and No. 13 ranking in RPI, they still have a solid chance of earning a 4 seed and hosting tournament games at the Kennel.
Fortier brought up the subject with her players before practice. “I don’t know that they even knew about it,” she said.
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