GU Women's Basketball Officially Underway - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

GU Women's Basketball Officially Underway

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SPOKANE, Wash. – (September 30, 2013 – It may have seemed a little early to Kelly Graves – it is still September – but the Gonzaga University women's basketball head coach, along with his players, were still excited to hit the court Sunday for their first official practice of the 2013-14 campaign.

"It did seem a little rushed, we are still in September," stated Graves after the Bulldogs practice Monday. "But you are always excited when your players are in their practice gear and you are on the floor for official practice."

Coming off a 27-6 campaign that saw the Zags win their ninth-straight West Coast Conference regular season title and advance to a fifth-straight NCAA Tournament, Graves has four starters and a total of 12 letterwinners returning.

The returning starters for the Bulldogs include senior guards Haiden Palmer (12.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.2 spg) and Jazmine Redmon (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.2 apg) who were named West Coast Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player and WCC Defensive Player of the Year, respectively; junior forward Sunny Greinacher (9.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 51.6 FG%) and redshirt sophomore center Shelby Cheslek (5.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg).  

Other returning letterwinners are senior center Stephanie Golden (5.4 ppg), junior guard Keani Albanez (6.6 ppg), junior guard Maiki Viela (1.2 ppg), junior guard Danielle Walter (1.8 ppg), sophomore guard/forward Chelsea Waters (1.8 ppg), redshirt sophomore forward Shaniqua Nilles (1.2 ppg), sophomore forward Kiara Kudron (3.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Elle Tinkle (2.5 ppg).

A lot of experienced depth for Gonzaga, who only welcomes one returning redshirt, one freshman and a walk-on to the squad.

"We have a lot of depth," explained Graves of his team this season. "I am really excited about this group; this has a chance to be a really, really special group."

Adding to the squad this season is University of California transfer Lindsay Sherbert who is eligible after sitting out the 2012-13 to NCAA transfer rules and freshman center Emma Wolfram.

 Sherbert, a guard from Temecula, Calif., averaged 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during her two-years at Cal and hit 87 3-pointers. Wolfram, 6-5 from Kamloops, British Columbia, led the Canadian Junior Women's National Team to a seventh place finish at this summer's FIBA U19 World Championship For Women.  

After sitting out a season, Sherbert had been eagerly awaiting official practice to begin this season.

"I'm so excited," stated Sherbert. "I had to redshirt last year, so being able to practice and have that feeling that I am going to get to play in front of 6,000 people is unbelievable. Being able to step on the court this year is going to be pretty exciting."

Gonzaga has to replace two players this season; Taelor Karr, the 2013 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, and sharpshooter Meghan Winters who hit 25 3-pointers last season, third most on the squad.

Palmer, one of three seniors on the squad this year, believes the team's depth will help in replacing Karr and Winters. 

"We have a deep bench, everyone on the bench can come in and contribute," Palmer said. "We are going to be really tough team to stop; if we get tired we can throw someone else in there." 

The Bulldogs are working towards their opening game of the season Nov. 8 against the University of Idaho at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  

Fans can get their first glimpse of the Bulldogs Saturday, Oct. 19 at Fan Fest at 4 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The event is free and open to the public.