The Gonzaga Women’s Basketball team was not among the top 25 in the first AP preseason poll of the 2023-24 college basketball season. Lisa Fortier’s team did receive 15 votes, sixth most among teams not in the poll which unofficially givies them the ranking of 31st.
Gonzaga went 28-5 last year and 17-1 in WCC play, but a weak conference and a pair of losses at the end of the season, first to Portland in the WCC Championship and then to Ole Miss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, resulted in a 49th place finish in the NET.
However, the Lady Zags return basically everyone from last year’s squad, including the Truong Twins Kayleigh and Kaylynne, sharpshooter Brynna Maxwell, post star Yvonne Ejim, as well as Eliza Hollingsworth, Calli Stokes, and Esther Little.
The team also has plenty of opportunities to pick up marquee victories during the non-conference slate, which is much needed thanks to a WCC that got even weaker with the departure of BYU this offseason. Gonzaga will face No. 15 Stanford, No. 17 Louisville, No. 24 Washington State on the road, and No. 25 Mississippi State – as well as quality programs in Wyoming, South Dakota State, New Mexico and both Arizona and Cal in the Pac-12.
No doubt the team was hoping to be in the preseason poll, but a surprise visit from comedy legend Adam Sandler likely eased some of the sting. Sandler was in Spokane for the first time, performing a show at the Spokane Arena on Monday evening. Prior to the show, which was attended by coach Fortier, Sandler stopped by the women’s practice and met with the team and players.
The star of Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, 50 First Dates, and countless other comedy blockbusters is a known basketball fanatic, and his recent movie Hustle even mentions Gonzaga in passing.
Whether Sandler will be the team’s good luck charm this year remains to be seen, but considering nearby foe Washington State rallied behind Shania Twain last year, it sure seems like a possibility.
Gonzaga tips off the season in an exhibition matchup against Warner Pacific on November 2, with the regular season starting on November 6 in Missoula against Montana.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.