Women putting last year behind

It is so much easier to talk about the previous year when it was a winning season, but in some cases it’s probably better to forget it all together.

The dismal 2-11 record of 2002-03 season was a big surprise given that the Concordia Stingers’ women’s basketball team had reached the conference finals the year before.

The team had high ambitions about taking it all in 2002-03, but a third place finish in a four-team division was mostly at the expense of an injury-plagued McGill Martlet team. The Stingers took four of the five Martlett games but could not accomplish anything else against the rest of the league. When the Bishop’s Gaiters knocked them out of the first round of the play-offs there was a perpetual silence in the locker room.

“We definitely have to win more games against the other teams,” returning guard Pascale Morin said. Morin, who was named co-captain along with guard and spark plug Marie-Jose Raposo, won’t look back any more than that. “We are back and ready for the new season. Last year was last year,” she said.

“Those of us returning from last year are already looking ahead,” Raposo said.

One might think that last year would be stapled on the minds of the team.

“There is no point in discussing last year at all,” said Head Coach Keith Pruden. “We have to work on this year.”

That’s probably the best thinking because the women’s team might be asking themselves this year is the cup half full or half empty.

The team is without five of its regular players. Moving on is veteran forward and team leader Jennifer Neil, forward Nirmala Bains, guard and fan favourite Rosie Douglas, and fellow guards Kelly-Anne Weir and Sonia Martini. Tanya Monuma also left the team but may be returning after Christmas.

These changes could suggest that Concordia might have to become basement dwellers as they refurnish the house. What with half a team returning, five new players, and other teams gunning for them there may just be too many stairs to climb this year.

“I don’t think the other teams in the league are thinking about us like that,” says Pruden. “In fact, they know we still have our back court threat in Pascale Morin and Marie-Jose Raposo.”

Guards Allison Neill and Melanie Larocque will be returning to the hardwood and sophomore Anne-Catherine Leduc will be posting up again. The team picks up two post players in 6-foot-2 Emilie Ruel and 6-foot-2 Fanie Ruel, both from CEGEP Montmerency.

It is a bigger team and Pruden is confident that a bigger team will make opponents think twice. “They know we are bigger and that is what they will have to prepare for.”

Also joining the team are five-foot-seven guard Graziella Charles, five-foot-eight guard Jodi Rolland, five-foot-six guard Helene Tshimbalanga, and five-foot-five guard Alexander Roy.

Last season, the Stingers could not hold off any last minute offensive drives by most of the teams with the exception of the McGill Martletts.

This lack of concentration often nullified good, sometimes even great performances, and only served to reinforce the idea that basketball is a full forty-minute game.

But Pruden cannot comment on how his team will perform until he sees his new team in action. “I don’t know what roles to assign to players,” he says. “This group is one of the best groups I have worked with in a long time.”


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