Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Mustangs women's basketball made in the Chehade

By Ryan Hickman
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette
GEORGE GERVIN, SERVED ON ICE. Mustang Joanne Chehade tickles the twine with this finger roll in the Mustangs 71-66 victory over Waterloo last weekend.

If you think women's basketball is dainty and meek, you haven't seen Joanne Chehade play.

Western's fourth-year forward has banged, spun and fought her way to being one of the best players in Ontario women's basketball.

Heading into this past weekend, Chehade was fourth in the province and 12th in the country in scoring, with 16.3 points per contest.

Chehade, a London Regina Mundi College graduate, is a complementary combination of size and quickness who can go out around the arc to cover a small forward and bang underneath with the power forwards and centres. It's Chehade's feistiness that makes her a force.

"You have to intimidate and always play tough," Chehade says, concerning her rough and tumble style of play on both sides of the ball. "If you're physical with them, they will think twice before trying a move again."

Chehade is the kind of player who would elbow you in the chest in a pick-up game at a family picnic just to get position in the post. It's down on the block where Chehade does most of her damage, and where Western head coach Bob Delaney says she's most comfortable.

"Her strength is with her back to the basket," Delaney said. "When the ball is in her hands, that's when Joanne goes to work."

"I've always been quick," Chehade said, adding she tests her leaping ability every night at practice by trying to dunk the ball, but she can only muster up enough hops to touch rim.

Delaney attests to the physical fleetness of Chehade, and the advantage it gives her with players larger than her.

"She is such a good leaper that she can play with the six footers, and she's got tremendous moves," he said.

Chehade's toughness, physical skill and the intangible of watching the NBA since she was young, are some of the reasons why she has been droppin' it like it's hot on the rest of the OUA. However, Delaney explained that Chehade needs to get into a game early to be truly effective.

"If Joanne hits early, it's contagious," Delaney said. "It goes through the team and the other kids feed off her and get confidence. When she's on her game, there are very few kids in the league this year that can excel at the level that she excels."

Chehade's confidence shows most when asked about having the ball in her hands during a tight game, when there are a precious few ticks left on the clock.

"I definitely want the ball," Chehade replied. "I want my team to rely on me in that situation."

Delaney clearly believes in Chehade. He detailed the events of a game last year when he drew up a play specifically for Chehade and she went on to hit the shot and send the game into overtime, where the Mustangs eventually won by five points.

"If we are in a situation late in the game and we need a basket, she's certainly one of the two or three people that we would like to think of as being pretty reliable to make a basket," Delaney said.

When Chehade is not on the hardwood banging and scoring, she has her nose in the books. The fourth-year kinesiology student has always wanted to be a doctor and has already completed the MCAT.

She's looking to come back to Western in the physiology masters program so she can play another year for the Mustangs, before she trades in her high-tops for a stethoscope.

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