Keith Pruden, Concordia women’s basketball head coach, had a smile on his face. He said he was happy. He looked happy. He was happy.
Sure the team has had a 0-6 record in two preseason tournaments. Sure the team is coming off of a season where it lost all but one conference game. But the preseason tournaments were against teams that very well might find themselves in the National top-10 by the end of the year, and the season from a year ago is all but forgotten with a talented group of rookies coming in.
“We should have won two games,” Pruden said, with the statistics at his disposal as if they were playoff games. “We made some mistakes, rookie mistakes. Last year I was concerned with the mistakes we were making because we were a veteran team. Everything that is wrong is fixable,” he said.
This team is going to look to the few returning players for leadership, including fifth-year captain Melanie Larocque.
“Mel’s job is show the younger players how everything is done properly,” Pruden said. “She has to be a role model.”
Pruden also mentioned that returning veterans Shannah Ernest and Steffanie Ramonas will have leadership roles this year. He pointed out that although the role is new to both of them, they have been doing a good job “keeping the rookies focused.”
Also returning from last year’s team is Ebony Morris, a second-year player who Pruden used at the point this preseason. Pruden said he was impressed with the “huge improvement” in her play from last season.
The fact that the team has played teams like Memorial, Alberta and Victoria who Pruden said could be in the top-10 at some point this season makes the team know what it takes to play with the big teams when their conference schedule begins in November.
“We’re in a tough league, and it hasn’t gotten any easier,” Pruden said. “But I feel we’re in a better position now then we were a year ago.”
“I believe we will be competitive in league play this season,” he continued.
Turnovers were a big problem for the Stingers last season, and when they committed low amounts of turnovers, the game was closer, and in their favour. So far in the preseason, Pruden has been happy with the responsibility his players have shown with the ball.
The team committed 14 turnovers against Acadia and 12 against Memorial, games they lost by three points each. Their worst showing was a 26-turnover performance against Alberta.
Something that makes Pruden even happier is the fact that the CIS went with FIBA rules, which big changes include a 24-second shot clock and gives teams eight seconds to get to the half-court line.
“If we had these rules last year,” Pruden said. “We would have turned the ball over even more times.”
The team faces off against Laurentian in their first pre-season game at home on Saturday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.