If there is anyone out there who doesn’t think that last year’s loss to Laval in the QSSF final game is still on the minds of the Concordia Stingers’ women’s basketball team, then they need to speak to co-captain and fifth year starting guard Rosie Mendez-Douglas.
She’ll be glad to set them straight.
“We are thirsty and ready to start competing,” she said. “Over the summer we have been practicing and we have been training hard the last two weeks.”
What is clearly on the minds of head coach Keith Pruden and the players is a return to the finals.
Stingers’ basketball fans have plenty to be excited about this season.
A team that came within six points of becoming champions last year returns a solid nucleus of veterans.
The Lady Bees are a veteran team led by co-captains, fifth year guard Jennifer Neil and Mendez-Douglas.
Pascale Morin, Tanya Moinuna, M.J Raposa, Alison Neil, Sonia Martini and Nicole Demetris round up the rest of the roster.
Leaving the 2001 finalists are graduates 6-foot-2 centre Kristina Steinfort and 5-foot-9 forward Marie-Pier Veilleux, the team’s leading scorers.
Veilleux made a name for herself last year when she drained 197 points and
complimented that by hauling in 71 rebounds. Steinfort’s 231 points and team leading 118 rebounds last year drew double coverage from opposing teams. Anne Catherine-Leduc, who transferred in last year and sat out due to ineligibility, will replace Steinfort at centre.
Pruden, in his eighth year as head coach, is very confident that Catherine-Leduc can fill Steinfort’s shoes.
“Anne is a tall, strong centre with good post moves and excellent rebounding skills,” Pruden pointed out. “She’s very athletic and runs the floor much better than most players her size.”
Size is a key issue for the Stingers. When stacked up against other teams in the league, they can go toe to toe when it comes to height. That situation is true for every team except for Laval, who has a definite size advantage.
“This is where Catherine-Leduc’s skills will help us,” Pruden said.
Fans can also expect the Concordia squad to play a very aggressive style when it comes to defence. The team has quickness and can score in a variety of ways from different positions.
Although the Stingers should have no problem scoring points, the team’s real strengths are defence and depth.
Mendez-Douglas also feels that the team’s defensive threat and overall conditioning can be decisive when it comes to shutting down Laval and other opponents.
On offence, Mendez-Douglas expects the team to be patient and swing the ball and take advantage of turnovers.
“Winning against a bigger team is also all about the rotations,” she said. “Our biggest challenge is rotating off our doubles on the back side.”
Pruden, who was named QSSF coach of the year in 2002 agreed.
“This is where our team stands out. We are very athletic and defensive minded,” he said.
Pruden was pleased with training camp and is optimistic about the season.
The QSSF division will once again be strong with Laval, who in 2001 posted a 14-1 record to the Stingers’ 9-6 record. McGill and Bishop’s round out the rest of the league.
The Stingers will begin their quest for a return trip to the QSSF finals on the road Saturday, Nov. 16 against Laval, and Pruden cannot wait.
He said that everyone on the team has been looking forward to competing again.
The Lady Stingers first home game is Nov. 22 versus McGill.