Back on the court
Head coach Paul Falco and the Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball program are no strangers to adversity since claiming the consolation title at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships back in 2010-11.
The rookies from that edition of the Hawks—Doreen Bonsu, Bree Chaput, Laura Doyle and Kimberley Yeldon — have formed a leadership core and battled through the graduation of stars like Renata Adamczyk, the transfer of Felicia Mazerolle to Fanshawe College and Bonsu’s lingering concussion symptoms since competing at nationals in Windsor, Ont.
Falco remains optimistic that the Hawks can improve on their 11-8 regular season record and first-round exit against the Western Mustangs in the playoffs last season.
“As a team, we know we need to out work the opponent to be successful this year. The [Ontario University Athletics] OUA and specifically the OUA West has been the toughest division in the country the past couple of years. I expect this year to be no different,” said Falco.
The Hawks will have to compensate in terms of rebounding and scoring down low with injuries to centre Whitney Ellenor and forwards Courtney Bruce, Bonsu and Yeldon to begin the campaign.
Ellenor, the team’s leading scorer and blocker last season, will be sidelined with a broken foot for a minimum of six weeks. Yeldon, a veteran scorer and rebounder, will be shelved with an ankle injury for a couple weeks.
And both Bruce and Bonsu are suffering from lingering concussion symptoms and are postponing their season debuts for the Hawks.
“Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game and we will need other players to step up and fill the holes. It may require us to play a slightly different style of basketball,” explained Falco.
“With [fellow captains] Bonsu and Yeldon both being out of the lineup, Chaput has taken on a larger ‘in game’ leadership role.”
In addition, third-year guard Samantha Jacobs scored a game-high sixteen points against the Bishop Gaiters on Oct. 6th, and has raised her game throughout the preseason.
Through four preseason games the Hawks are 2-2 against non-conference opponents.
The team will travel to Victoria, B.C. for three games before their season opener at Laurier on Nov. 1.
Rookies Melissa Dally, Sarah Dillon, Nicole Morrison and Alexandra Spadaro have experienced increased playing time due to injuries and are adapting to CIS-level competition.
Falco acknowledged the strong contributions of his rookies, most notably Spadaro, as she held her own against stronger and more experienced post players through this preseason.
“Despite the injuries that have impacted our overall development, we have a strong rookie class and depth on the bench,” said Chaput.
“Our run-and-gun pace will make it difficult for the opposition to keep up.”
Chaput ranked amongst the top five in several statistical categories last season and is expected to provide leadership on and off the court for the Hawks.
“Overall, it has been a productive training camp and we are all looking forward to the home opener,” said Falco.
The women’s basketball team will host the Algoma University Thunderbirds on Friday Nov. 1 at the Athletic Complex. This is Algoma’s first regular season game in the OUA after joining the league earlier in the year.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.