Coaches Kelly Graves, Jennifer Mountain, J.R. Payne and Toriano Towns have brought Gonzaga's women's basketball a long way in a short time and the intimate gathering in downtown Spokane drove that point home, particularly by the two seniors who bid farewell.
When Cheyenne Brown and Anne Bickelhaupt came to Gonzaga, the team didn't win a single game in WCC action. In fact, four years ago, it really wasn't even close. The Zags simply were not competitive, no matter how hard they played. And they were not on TV once.
Fast forward to 2004, and through multiple injuries, and Anne and Cheyenne were a part of a team that came within three points of the NCAA Tournament, and earned a bid to the WNIT. And Fox Sports Net carried some games.
Ashley Burke, left, gives Anne Bickelhaupt and Cheyenne Brown gifts from the team during the women's basketball banquet.
April 18, 2004, nearly a month after the final game in postseason, the staff, team, families and fans gathered to watch highlights and reflect on the season that just ended.
That meant awards as well:
Most Valuable Player went to Ashley Burke who earned 1st-team WCC honors by posting consistent double-doubles and just being totally versatile in the paint, on the break or bombing outside.
Defensive Player went to Raeanne Jewell who epitomizes what a Gonzaga Bulldog is all about, a tough, physical leader on the court, a fearless player on both ends.
The Hustle Award went to Ashley Anderson based on taking charges, blocking shots, making steals, diving for loose balls, all the stats that don't show up in box scores.
Katie Prichard earned a well-deserved honor for sacrificing her redshirt 3/4 through the season for the good of the team, stepping in after super frosh Rachel Kane went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Shannon Mathews was recognized for her 1st-team WCC honor as well.
Front Row, Left to Right: Juliann Laney, Katy Ridenour, Chandra McCormick, Raeanne Jewell, Ashley Burke. Back Row, Left to Right: Katie Prichard, Anne Bickelhaupt, Stephanie Hawk, Shannon Mathews, Anne Bailey, Rachel Kane, Ashley Anderson, Cheyenne Brown, Monica Uhrig, Delphine LeCoultre, Ashley Shearer.
With everybody but Anne and Cheyenne returning, the women will likely be 2004-05 preseason WCC favorites.
Zags, you've come a long way, but fans have seen nothing yet.
ZagsHoops.com would like to thank the coaching staff, administration, team and families.