By Gabriel Rodrigues
Although Laurentian’s women’s basketball team is currently 2-7, their coach believes his squad will try its best to compete for the “home stretch” of the 2013-14 season.
“Looking back on it,” said Jason Hurley. “There were games I thought we could have won and we didn’t. Right now, I really don’t care about the record, but it’s how well we work in the game, and that has been somewhat disappointing so far.”
The Voyageurs started the season off with a relatively strong opening road win against the Waterloo Warriors 67-49.
But after Laurentian’s first game and win of the season, the Voyageurs began to slip losing seven straight games before finally winning their second game against the Algoma Thunderbirds 55-43 on Nov. 29, to close out the first-half of the 2013-14 campaign.
“In some games we came out afraid and scared,” said Hurley. “As a coach, you always have to think you can compete with anyone. When you look at our team this year, this has been a huge culture change.”
Hurley’s in his first year as a head coach at the CIS level, and said new systems “take time to adapt.”
“Our entire coaching staff, the defense that we play and all the offenses is new,” he said. “Everything has changed, so it’s hard for the girls to take that all in. But, they need to learn to trust in all the work they put in during practice, and just play and lose control.”
Currently, the Voyageurs are sixth in the OUA East standings ahead of Algoma (0-9) and York (1-8) for the last playoff spot in the conference.
Although Laurentian occupies the last playoff spot in the East, it will not be an easy task according to their coach, as the Voyageurs lead the OUA with an average of 24.9 turnovers a game and sit fourth with 64.9 points allowed per game.
On the bright side for Laurentian, Algoma and York are both last in the OUA in scoring with both teams averaging less than 46 points a game compared to Laurentian’s 50.9 points per- game during the first-half of the season.
Hurley is certain his team gets nervous during games and said his players “think too much” when they compete.
“We all want to be in control of our own destiny,” he said. “When we decide to play, we pass, shoot and rebound well. We are not thinking about it, we are just playing some basketball. I want the girls to allow their instincts to take over, but sometimes that’s hard for them to do.”
At the beginning of the season, Hurley gave every player a sheet with his expectations of the season, but after certain results of the first-half of the season, it proved to be “too much information” for his team to handle.
“I blame myself for that,” said Hurley. “So now, we are going down to the foundations and basically eye contact is everything. We are trying to simplify stuff that we are doing because it was just an overload. We turn the ball over a ton, so we are taking it down to a building block of eye contact.”
Hurley hopes if he simplifies things for his team that “it will give them a little more confidence behind the ball.”
“Hopefully we can portray a positive message to the girls,” he said. “I’m not easy on them and that is my fault because I’ve held them back as players. They want to do so well that they over think things. Again, I’m a rookie head coach, and my New Year’s resolution is to be a little more patient.”
According to Hurley, Danielle Harris has proven to be an on court leader, as the third-year guard sits twelfth in OUA scoring with an average of 12.7 points per-game.
However, Hurley still believes his team is missing “a vocal leader.”
“In my opinion, we don’t have a natural leader,” he said. “Our mental focus before a game is lacking and it’s clear since we’ve had many games where we have come out flat, and I think that comes from not having that vocal presence. The girls need to know that the second-half of the season will be far more intense, and players need to step-up to the challenge and fill that gap because this is will be the nuts and bolts of the year.”
The Voyageurs kick off the second-half of the season on the road when they travel to Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday, Jan. 8 to play against the Algoma Thunderbirds at 6 p.m. at the George Leach Centre.
Laurentian then travels back to Sudbury to play host against the Carleton Ravens on Friday, Jan. 10 and the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Saturday, Jan 11with both games starting at 6 p.m. at the Ben F. Avery Gymnasium.