Volume 92, Issue 83
Wednesday, March 5, 1999
Women use the home advantage
© Geoff Robins/Gazette
By Ian Ross
Home is where the heart is for the Mustang women's basketball team.
As hosts of the Ontario University Athletics championships this weekend in Alumni Hall, the team plans to take full advantage of their familiar surroundings, said Western head coach Bob Delaney.
"Look at our record over the years here," he said, referring to only two home losses over the past three years. "It's pretty envious."
The frills of home court advantage extend further than supportive fans and a familiar playing surface, Delaney said. "The girls can sleep in their own beds and stay in their own routines. It's better for them to rest and relax in their own homes."
Forced to journey up and down Highway 401 to compete, Guelph head coach Angela Orton admitted Western's odds of winning increased with the venue in London.
"I would say that Western is the favourite playing in their own gym," Orton said. She added the team with the highest discipline and poise should take the Ontario West division title.
Orton's Gryphons will face the McMaster Marauders at 8 p.m. tonight in the west division semifinal while the Mustangs will take on Lakehead in the other match-up at 6 p.m..
While the actual distance to Alumni Hall for the Mustangs is a hop, skip and a jump, the mental road the team has taken to capture first place in the Ontario West division has been long and bumpy. The team struggled at Christmas and lost starting guard Sonya Doherty for personal reasons. This weekend, the squad will play with the seriously limited services of co-captain Nadia Pezzolo, the team's top post player.
Pezzolo is recovering from a serious inner-ear infection which has sidelined her for two weeks. Delaney said he expects her to contribute off the bench for a few minutes in each game.
"Hopefully I can be the spark off the bench the team needs," a thinner and paler Pezzolo said, after limiting herself in practice on Wednesday.
Delaney said he will be looking to post players Holli Clarkson and Adriana Pompa to continue to pick up the slack under the basket.
Another fact staring down at the Mustangs is the memories of defeats this season from the hands of Lakehead and McMaster both contenders for Ontario bragging rights.
Jenn Haylor, the team's other co-captain, said the season losses will not be a liability but rather an asset to the team.
"It serves the team as more of a motivator than anything else," she said.
The victors of Friday night's semifinal tilts will contest for the Ontario West title and an invitation to the national championships on Saturday at 4 p.m.. The Ontario finals will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m..
Copyright © The Gazette 1999