Youth raise title hopes

'Time is now' coach Barrie says - OUA Women's Basketball

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

With his players training during the off-season to stay in form for next year, women’s basketball head coach Stephan Barrie and his staff have been busy as well, retooling for the upcoming season.

Barrie, whose contract was renewed at the end of last season, discussed the areas he is looking to improve on his promising roster.

“It was very obvious [to the coaching staff] that we had a lot of skilled, big players and we also had a very strong starting five that really maintained the load of what we had to do last year.

“However, we were not deep enough overall as a team. We were very short on athletic guards who could really defend and play the up-tempo style we wanted to.”

To address the team’s depth at guard, four recruits have been pursued and committed to Western: 5’10” Waterloo native Rebecca Moss, 5’8” Welland native Sarah Mallen, 5’11” Toronto native Brittany MacDonald, and 5’8” Guelph native Karen Bremner.

“These four kids are going to right away engage in what we do on the floor. They’re all going to get minutes and opportunities to play and they’re going to make us change the way we play completely from being big to being more athletic and pressing and running a lot,” Barrie said.

All four individuals possess different characteristics that will allow the team to play a more up-tempo style.

While Moss will be counted on primarily to defend, MacDonald’s athletic ability will allow her to play both guard and forward. Mallen, who Barrie has coached before, will be relied on to provide the team with a spark off the bench.

Bremner, the team’s latest recruit, has also been coached by Barrie, and is expected to make an immediate impact on the team.

“She’ll probably come in this year and be the best passer we have right away. She’s an excellent playmaker and she’s very good at handling the ball,” Barrie said.

Bremner, a two-time Ontario provincial team member, discussed her reason for attending Western.

“I thought Western had a really good chance to be competitive for the entire four years I was at university,” she said. “With the recruits coming in before me, it just looked like [the program] was going to get better.”

While the transition from high school to university level basketball can take time to adjust to, current Mustangs guard/forward Nadine Paron believes the four recruits should be able to adapt by the start of the season.

“They’re all very good players, and they’ve all played on good teams,” she said. “It’s always nice to have talented players come in [to the team]...you can count on them to step up during the season.”

Alongside the other recruits, Bremner is attending practice sessions with the team during the summer months in preparation for the enhanced level of play.

“All of the girls are a lot bigger, a lot faster and a lot smarter, so if I can at least stay as strong as them I think I can be competitive.”

With an already talented group of players and the new group of recruits, the future of the program looks promising. Nonetheless, Barrie has set more immediate expectations for his team.

“This is a group that really needs to establish itself this year, and the seniors coming back realize that this is their time now,” he said.

“[The attitude of the team] has shifted from ‘it’s going to be’ to ‘it has to be’ now. I think they understand the urgency [to win a championship] is no longer in the future but now.”

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