Hawks work to build on momentous 2014-2015 season

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WBSK - ONLINE Heather Davidson File Photo
File Photo by Heather Davidson

The Wilfrid Laurier University women’s basketball team look to bounce back after suffering a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs last season when they were upset by the Queen’s Gaels in the Ontario University Athletics quarter-finals. This came after their strongest season to date with a 17-3 record and peaking at No. 6 in the country going into the playoffs.Head coach Paul Falco, who has led the Hawks to the playoffs in all of his seven years at the helm, hopes his team can bounce back and use the loss as motivation heading into the upcoming season.

“Tough losses are part of sports. The key to bouncing back is to learn from it, put it behind you, and use it to help motivate you on the court,” he said.

The Hawks have nine returning players from last year’s squad. Defence remains the priority with a team filled with a handful of pesky, speedy guards. The Hawks have had five different players record three or more steals in a game this preseason. But after a 3-5 preseason, the team’s defence still has some areas that need improving for the regular season, according to Falco.

“We were fortunate to play some top teams in the pre-season, which allows you to quickly see that we need better team defence and rebounding to be successful. We have to keep teaching the girls how to improve in these areas as it doesn’t just happen overnight,” he explained.

After losing 6’3” star center Whitney Ellenor to graduation, it’s no surprise that defence and rebounding are areas that need improvement. Ellenor was the Hawks’ leading rebounder and shot-blocker last year. However the Hawks may not necessarily need to replace her, but instead adjust their strategy to their current group of players’ skills and make alterations to defensive schemes.

After taking time to adjust to the next level, Falco hopes contributions from his first-year players can make the Hawks a deeper team with a handful of players ready to contribute when their number is called.

“Our first-year girls are adapting to the speed and intensity of the university game. If they work hard day in and day out, they will continue to improve and become more valuable as the season goes on,” Falco said.

One of the areas that could be a real strength and staple for the Hawks’ defence is how well they defend the three-point line. The Hawks have led the OUA in fewest opponent three-pointers made for two seasons, and coach Falco hopes to once again be strong in this area.

“There are so many good shooters in the OUA and we hope to again make it difficult on the opposition. It will require focus and good team defense to continue this trend,” he explained.

Laurier has carried their stellar three-point defence into the pre-season.The Hawks held Trine University to only one three-point shot made and Université de Québec à Montréal Citadins to two threes made.

The Hawks are in good hands with Falco, who has led the team to a winning record for five straight seasons, and Falco is excited to see how this group of players comes together.

“Having the opportunity to assist players as they work towards achieving personal and team goals while at the same time seeing them grow and mature throughout their time at Laurier, is very satisfying. Every year we have a different group as no two years are the same. I am excited to see how this team comes together and improves over the course of the season,” said Falco.

File Photo by Serena Gill
File Photo by Serena Gill

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