Gonzaga women have to adjust rotations with players returning from injury
March 16, 2023 Updated Thu., March 16, 2023 at 8:25 p.m.
STANFORD, Calif. – Don’t get her wrong: Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier is grateful that she can field a healthy team going into the Zags’ first-round NCAA Tournament game Friday against Ole Miss.
But after three months of shorthanded lineups and long minutes for the starters, Fortier and her staff have had to make plenty of late-season adjustments.
“It is not an ideal time to have players come back,” Fortier said earlier this week. “But whether you would take them at this time or not at all, you would always take them back.”
When she took over the program in 2014, Fortier adopted a deep-bench rotation, with starters typically averaging 26 to 28 minutes a game.
But when starting guard Kayleigh Truong and reserve forward Maud Huijbens were lost to injury – for three months, as it turned out – it forced a drastic overhaul of Fortier’s choreographed rotations.
That meant more minutes for everyone, of course, but also changed how those players rotated in and out.
Based on the Zags’ 28-4 record, the players adjusted well to the changes.
“Twenty-five minutes or 35, it really doesn’t make a difference to me,” forward Yvonne Ejim said.
Likewise, the other starters seemed to handle fatigue, though it seemed to creep in during the West Coast Conference Tournament title game loss to Portland.
“The ones who don’t have to play 37 minutes a game anymore are grateful for that, but at the same time they’re used to doing that,” Fortier said.
Meanwhile, players who got heavy minutes have given way to former starters returning from injury.
“Usually, you’re doing this when the season starts, or when league starts figuring out combinations so that when you get to conference play you’ve got something pretty dialed in,” Fortier said.
“So it’s an adjustment. I don’t know that I feel comfortable.”
That was last Sunday. Four days later, Fortier talked about high-energy practices – “lots of practice against each other, lots of getting after each other, trying to get better and high energy.”
And with their last game 10 days in the rear-view mirror, the players are more than ready to get back on the court.
“I think we have had enough rest as a whole team,” guard Kaylynne Truong said. “And having players that haven’t played much of the season come back, it’s fresh legs, and then they bring the energy, so we feed off that energy, and I think we’re ready to go.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.