Courtney Vandersloot graduated in May as the only Division 1 men or women’s player to have over 2,000 points and 1,000 assists. She was drafted third overall in the WNBA draft. Anyone following the GU women’s basketball program knows that and understands that the team this year will definitely be different than the past four years with the all-start point guard on the court.
However, it is time to move on for the Lady Zags, and use this new season to strut their new team. Several key players from last years’ Elite Eight team return to the MAC for the 2011-2012 season, and a few new faces joined the squad, who are expected to make an impact.
Haiden Palmer, a transfer last year from Oregon State, will play her redshirt sophomore season after sitting out last year. Palmer has a great reputation as a point guard, and will likely fill in the role for Courtney with her new style of play. At OSU, she started every single game (31), averaged over 10 points per game, and made the PAC-10 All-Freshman team.
Taelor Karr is a junior transfer from Kansas State University, and has been declared eligible by the NCAA, and is also predicted to be a major asset to the Bulldogs’ roster. Karr played in all 32 games at K-State last year, and started 29 of them. The 5’8” guard will bring valuable experience of high level basketball to GU, as the Big 12 is one of the toughest women’s basketball conferences in the NCAA.
The group of freshmen coming to Gonzaga bring some great height to the roster. There are seven first year players, five of whom are 6’0” or taller. Sunny Grienacher, from Germany is 6’4” and Shelby Chelsek of Pullman, Washington is 6’5”—capping of the height as the tallest player on the squad. Megan Benedict is 6’1” and a guard, which is a nice combination. Danielle Walters, a redshirt freshman, and Shaniqua Nilles of Spokane Valley, are each 6’0” tall.
The other two freshmen, Maikai Viela (5’6”) and Keani Abanez (5’10”) round out the new group of faces earning spots on the roster.
Last season was a one that definitely made history in women’s basketball at Gonzaga, but this team of ladies is ready for the challenge of a new year. The team may look different than the 2010-2011 squad, but the goals are the same, and hopefully the results will be too.