Women's basketball expects big boost from top recruits

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Take notice, hoops fans; the future of the Mustangs women’s basketball program is bright.

Western recently announced the commitment of four top high-school prospects for the 2007-08 season.

Guard/forward Brittany MacDonald, guards Sarah Mallen and Rebecca Moss and forward Sandra Cers join an already potent Western team.

With new recruits comes new strategy, meaning a complete schematic overhaul for head coach Stephan Barrie. He hopes to move from a relaxed man-to-man defence to a more aggressive game that will wreak havoc with newly implemented international rules that give teams only eight seconds to clear the half-court line.

Adding athletic forwards MacDonald and Cers will ease the change.

“Most teams don’t have 10 kids who can play at this level. We do,” Barrie said.“[Our scheme] may combine a bunch of different looks, but mostly it will rely on heavy pressure.

“There’s no point in conserving energy, so we’re going to continuously move girls in and out of the game to keep pressure on teams constantly to wear them down.”

Barrie understands young players need to develop, especially when adjusting to the speed and complexity of an Ontario University Athletics offence.

He said the women will need time to get their legs under them while they learn the finer details of his pick-and-roll offence.

The young players’ real value will be on the defensive end of the floor for what will be a revamped pressure defence. The recruits say they already feel right at home with their new coach’s scheme.

“I love an up-tempo, transition game,” said Moss, a three-time Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association All-Star who averaged 23 points and six rebounds a game with Bluevale Collegiate Institute.

Mallen seems equally eager to play her first game in Alumni Hall under Barrie’s new system.

“I can’t wait,” Mallen said. “This type of defence fits right into the style of basketball that I play.”

Mallen can handle pressure; she played on the Canada Drive under-17 team that competed at the U.S. junior nationals.

For the new recruits, being on the bottom rung will be a foreign experience. There will be more off-the-ball play for athletes used to carrying their team’s offensive load.

More notably, it also lets veteran Lauren Parkes return to her natural position at power forward.

Barrie is thrilled with his squad’s potential.

“These girls could have gone anywhere and been starters, logging heavy minutes, but they chose to come here and be role players,” he said.

“‘Team above self’" we have that motto in the dressing room right now.”

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