Young squad takes game to next level

Consistency key to success

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western women's basketball

“In order to beat teams like McMaster, we just have to have it together for the whole game, the whole 40 minutes, not just on and off throughout the game.

“We haven’t been able to do that for a full game this year, so we just have to play tough defence the whole time, be in their face, and get the job done.”

Amanda Anderson’s assessment of the women’s basketball team reflects the sentiments of a team loaded with talent. After finishing the preseason, the Mustangs are looking to be one of the elite teams in Ontario University Athletics.

After being eliminated in the semi-finals last year to the Guelph Gryphons at home, the ’Stangs are ready to get back on the hardwood. With a strong core of returning players and new recruits, head coach Stephan Barrie is looking to play more up-tempo ball this year.

“The recruits have allowed us to play more aggressively defensively [in the preseason] and pick up the full-court press, which has really helped,” he said.

“The rookies have really done their job and they’ve adjusted pretty well. Karen Bremner [in particular] at the point guard spot has really helped our ball handling situations. Between her, Anderson and Deena Kurilsky, we feel really solid in terms of that.”

After losing to Laurentian in exhibition play, Western ended the pre-season on a high note, defeating Cape Breton, McGill and Queen’s universities to take the crown in their annual Purple and White Invitational Tournament.

“I think after this weekend, we won our home tournament, it was really great for us because we figured out what we needed to work on,” forward Nadine Paron said.

“Particularly on the defensive end, we’ve been working hard in practice. We are really figuring out what we need to do and things are really coming together.”

Despite ending the pre-season on a positive note, Barrie said the team must work on improving its consistency.

“Our experience together needs to improve, getting the younger [athletes] playing with the older [athletes]. That’s going to take a little bit of time, for all the players to get a feel for each other and know where they are and how they like to play.

“That just takes games together. It will unfold as the season progresses and our consistency just needs to be a little bit better.”

While the team practiced together during the summer, Anderson said they still need to solidify their defensive play.

“We’ve had some slips in games where we will let a team back in just because have a lapse on defence,” she said. “I think we just need to get our defence together and we’ll have a good chance [to win] this year.”

Offensively, Paron said teams should have a difficult time dealing with Western’s multi-faceted attack.

“We have a presence inside with Bess Lennox, Megan Lapointe and Lauren Parkes, so teams have to look out for that. We also have a presence on the perimeter. I feel like we have a lot of threats that teams are going to have to try and handle.”

Despite all the improvements the Mustangs have made, Barrie said McMaster is still the team to beat in the OUA.

“They are probably going to be ranked in the top five in the country to start off this pre-season. They are going to be the best team in Ontario,” he said.

“We feel we are right there. We’re going to have to be consistent to beat them, but if we are consistent, we feel we have a very good chance.”

Western took on McMaster in its first regular season game of the year yesterday. Unfortunately, we were not able to report the score of the game by press time. Read next week’s Gazette to find out about the home opener, as well a preview of the men’s basketball team.

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