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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
Dale Goodwin, Director
Peter Tormey, Associate Director
|Tracking the Zags-Women: Academics a Priority|
By Dale Goodwin
(SPOKANE, Wash – 3/14/07) – As Gonzaga prepares for the school’s first game in the women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, a study released today by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport reveals that the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) of the 64 teams in the women’s tournament were far better than the same rates for the 64 teams in the men’s tournament.
“Our female basketball players have done a fabulous job academically. There is so much good news for the women’s tournament teams,” said Richard Lapchick, author of the study.
Gonzaga is among the leaders. Not only did the Zag women’s basketball team post 24 wins against 9 losses, and win both the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, but the players also posted an average fall semester grade point average of 3.2, and a cumulative GPA of 3.23. Three players made the university’s President’s List and two made the Dean’s List. Three players, sophomore Jami Bjorklund, junior Michelle Elliott and senior Stephanie Hawk, were members of the Winter WCC All-Academic team.
The GSR for GU women’s basketball, when analyzing student-athletes who entered college between 1996 and 1999, is 92 percent. Only one player in that four-year stretch did not graduate from Gonzaga.
“Our players are very conscientious about their studies,” said Gonzaga assistant coach Jennifer Mountain. “They know that performance in the classroom is an expectation, just as performance is on the court.”
Mountain should know, from both the player and coach’s perspective. She came to Gonzaga as a student-athlete in fall 1987, was a three-time first-team All-WCC selection, and also was WCC All-Academic. She ranks fourth on Gonzaga’s career scoring chart. She has served as assistant coach for six years.
As a freshman, Mountain’s team won the WCC regular-season title. There was no conference tournament at that time, and the Bulldogs did not get a sniff from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
“It was a different environment back then,” Mountain said. “Everything is heightened now that the men’s team has enjoyed such remarkable success. I don’t remember any of us having any sour feelings about not being selected then, like we did two years back when Gonzaga went 28-4, but did not lure the selection committee.
“But it was sure nice sitting in that room on Monday knowing that our name would be called this time around.”
Now, Mountain and the other coaches are focused on preparing this year’s team for its first NCAA tournament encounter, Saturday, at 5 p.m. against Middle Tennessee State, a team that has won 26 straight and is 29-3 overall.
“We are taking this one like all the others,” Mountain said. “We are watching game film and practicing hard. Obviously, there is a great deal of excitement and this is a really big game.”
The team will practice Thursday morning, and fly to San Jose Thursday afternoon, in time to get to their hotel to watch the Gonzaga men take on Indiana in the NCAA Tournament at 6:55 p.m.
Early Friday afternoon, the women’s team will practice at an area university, then have a shoot-around from 4-4:50 p.m. at Stanford University’s Maples Pavilion, site of their first-round game. Coach Kelly Graves and a couple of his players will take part in the NCAA interviews at 3:30 p.m., also at Maples.
Saturday morning the team will have another tournament-mandated shoot-around at Maples from 8:40-9 a.m.
“We’re happy to be where we are at, but we don’t want to be complacent by just getting here,” Mountain said. “We want to win a couple of games and prove a point. We’re going to enjoy this, but we need to win a game or two to help our league get over the hump and gain some respect. Our guys have done that. Now we need to step up.”
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