By Ron Guillet
The Laurentian Lady Vees’ basketball team won’t have its two star players on the roster next season, but head coach Mike Clarke is confident the new squad can compete in the Eastern Conference.
The Lady Vees have lost six players from last year’s roster, which includes Katie Goggins, Lisa Furchner, Carley Blaseg, Lyndi Meloche, Kyla Csumrik and Lindsay Hocevar. The departures of Goggins and Furchner will have the most significant impact on the team, which finished with a 5-17 record last season. Furchner ranked third in the Ontario University Athletics in the points-per-game category with 16.59, while Goggins ranked 12th in the OUA with13.65 PPG.
Clarke said the departure of Goggins and Furchner will change the team dynamics.
“We will adjust our style as the bulk of our team fits a physically similar mold as in they were tall and athletic,” Clarke said. “Also, we will have to simplify our game to counter our huge lack of experience.”
While the roster overhaul will alter the Lady Vees’ core, Clarke is hopeful the acquisitions to the team will build a solid foundation for the present and future.
“CIS basketball is not a game for 17 to19 year olds to be wildly successful,” Clarke said. “But we can be competitive now and a force to be reckoned with in the future. I am excited about our chemistry as I think our returnees will mesh very well with the newcomers.”
The Lady Vees’ recruits are:
Amanda McDonald, guard: McDonald is a former Junior Provincial team captain and OUA West All-Rookie Team member. She sat out last season with the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks due to injury, but is excited to get back on the court and contribute to the Lady Vees’ young squad.
“I think this is a very exciting time to be apart of the Lady Vees,” McDonald said. “The coaching staff is dedicated to their vision and it is a great group of talented young ladies with loads of potential.”
Clarke said McDonald will add new dimensions to the defense and play a key role on the team due to her leadership abilities.
“Amanda is an elite defender and will bring toughness and experience to our young squad,” Clarke said. “She is a perfect fit for our style of play and where we want to go. She adds confidence, toughness and maturity.”
Devenae Bryce, forward: Bryce was recruited from the Innisdale Invaders as the team’s MVP and captain for her final three years. She has had a successful tenure in basketball thus far, which she hopes to translate at the OUA level.
“I hope my aggressiveness and quickness on the court will be an asset to the team,” Bryce said. “I also tend to find ways to beat defenders, and I’m always working on my dribbling, so hopefully my skills there will help as well.”
Clarke said Bryce is the type of player the Lady Vees required to improve and she may thrive at Laurentian.
“Devenae is a real diamond in the rough,” Clarke said. “She is very athletic and has improved tremendously the last year. She can really run and can be a real impact maker in the passing lanes and O boards. She really fits with what we are trying to build here.”
Rachel McLean, forward: McLean won a gold medal with the St.Basil Saints at the 2010 OFSAA AA Championship game.
McLean hopes her time with the Lady Vees will shorten her development curve as a basketball player and help her mature as a young adult.
“I love being part of a team because I think having the presence of other people pushing me makes me push myself even harder,” McLean said. “I like to help my teammates with achieving their goals too. Basketball also offers me a chance to grow as a person as well as a player.”
Clarke said McLean possesses a skill set that could make her an integral part of the Lady Vees’ future.
“I have been watching Rachel for the last three years and have always liked her,” Clarke said. “She is a tenacious rebounder and that is something that is hard to teach. She has been very well coached at St. Basil and has high-level championship experience. With her intelligence, toughness and work ethic, Rachel can really help us going forward.”
Adrienne Moreau, guard/forward: Moreau played for the St. Joseph’s Jaguars last year and played at the GBSSA ‘AAAA’ championship. Despite only being 18 years old, Moreau has lots of experience in basketball, as she played for the Barrie Royals for nine years.
Moreau is excited to be apart of the rebuild for the next few years.
“I look forward to playing with a young team that has great potential and growing together to be a strong unit by my third and fourth year,” Moreau said. “I am excited to be a part of this team.”
Clarke said Moreau still needs to develop, but she has to potential to be a leader on the Lady Vees squad.
“Adrienne is long, runs well and can really shoot the ball with range,” Clarke said. “When she gets a little stronger and adjusts to the CIS game she has the chance to make a big impact.”
Kat Shwabe, point guard: Shwabe was captain of her Lo-Ellen Park high school team the last three seasons and was also selected to the city All-Star Team twice.
Clarke is hopeful Shwabe can bolster the Lady Vees’ defensive game.
“Kat is a true point guard who has steadily improved every year,” Clarke said. “She has worked with coaches that I really respect, Jen Bourget at LoEllen Park and Scott MacWhirter and Bill Gordon with Sudbury Selects, and her basketball IQ is high. Kat is a good athlete, a hard worker and she brings an edge defensively. I think she has the chance to develop into an effective CIS player.”
Mandy Consentino, forward: Standing at six foot four, Consentino will bring some size to the Lady Vees. She played four years of highschool basketball with the Strathroy District Collegiate Institute in Strathroy, Ontario.
Consentino hopes her versatility on the court will ensure her a roster spot.
“I hope to add my aggressive playing style with both offensive and defensive rebounding being a focus of my game as well as setting my teammates up for open shots,” Consentino said.
Danielle Harris, guard: Harris has a decorated career in basketball thus far, having won an OFSAA ‘AAA’ Consolation Championship and had two appearances in the Ontario Summer Games. Clarke said Harris’ two-way ability is what makes her an effective player.
“I knew she was an explosive athlete and being able to see her play both the point-guard spot and off the ball convinced me she’d be a great fit,” Clarke said. “We’ve had some really athletic point-guards here over the years and she definitely fits that mould.”
Despite the loss of key players to the Lady Vees and the focus on a young, developing squad, Clarke is confident the team can be a dark horse heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
“I think we will be an upstart team that will challenge everyone and back down from no one,” Clarke said.