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Volume 91, Issue 27

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Bored of Governors


Hoopsters Numero Uno: Women's basketball team atop rankings

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
IF I COULD FLY HIGHER THAN A SEAGULL. Mustand co-captain Jen Haylor shows off her Jordanesque move to the hole in last season's hardcourt action.

By Alex Chiang
Gazette Staff

For the second year in a row, the Western women's basketball team is the pre-season favourite to win the national championships according to the CIAU national rankings released Tuesday. However, as last year's team can testify, measuring talent and achieving objectives are a whole different story.

Last season, Western held the top spot in the rankings for virtually the entire duration of the schedule and finished first in the Ontario West division. Unfortunately, their regular season success was virtually erased when Western was unable to win the provincial title, finishing a disappointing third.

But it was the merit of their high national ranking that won them a wild-card berth in the national championship, where the Mustangs performed much closer to expectations for the bronze medal. Last season some critics pointed out the lack of tough opposition in the Western division allowed them to cruise the regular season without facing the York Yeoman or Toronto Blues and hold onto the number-one ranking, but when it came time to play more worthy opponents, the team fell short.

"Maybe the West division isn't as strong, but we do play a lot of the stronger teams in our preseason tournaments," said second-year guard, Sonya Doherty. "The preseason is important because we can gage our opponents and it allows the team to come together and build experience."

Doherty had a strong showing in Western's first preseason game on Tuesday night in a 73-52 win over Guelph.

It's obvious the coaches around the league still hold a high level of respect for the Mustangs and with almost all of the team returning from last year, including Western's female athlete of the year Angela Nobes and starters Jennifer Haylor, Nadia Pezzollo and Cindy Scott, there is plenty of reason for optimism.

Mustang head coach Bob Delaney said his team of only one key player, forward Lori Bartolotta, "She brought a great spirit to the team, but we're fortunate to have all of our starters returning. Everyone is a year maturer and more experienced now."

Delaney has been very happy with the team's progress thus far however he recognizes the perils of being ranked the No.1 team in the country.

"Being ranked No.1 is where we want to be," Delaney said. "But we know we have to be careful because everyone will be gunning for you."

"We have an extremely talented team and nobody has their starting position etched in stone. Everyone has a chance to start."

The championship tournament will be held at Lakehead University on the weekend of March 13th.

"We really want to win the provincials, but winning nationals is our real aim," Delaney said. "We have nine or 10 quality players every team would like to have and two or three untested rookies we brought in because we feel they can play at our level."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997