By Gabriel Rodrigues, Assistant Editor
Despite Laurentian’s women’s basketball team losing in the first round of the OUA playoffs to the Queen`s Gaels on Feb. 25, their coach considers his squad’s campaign an “improvement” from last year.
“We played hard and didn’t quit,” said Jason Hurley. “We got better and had more success, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. We had players step up and it helped having more of a veteran presence, but it will still take some time for this team to transition into a contender.”
The Voyageurs finished their OUA season with an 8-11 record, which was good enough for third in the North Division just behind the Carleton Ravens (9-10) and Ottawa Gee-Gees (14-5).
However, throughout the entire year, Laurentian’s overall output including games against nonconference opponents, is an 11-17 record, which left the Voyageurs in eleventh within the CIS in winning percentage improvement (0.393) from last season’s basketball campaign (6-22).
For Hurley, this winning improvement compliments exactly “what we are trying to accomplish here.”
“Last year, we had six wins with four of them being against Algoma (2-24),” Hurley said. “We played hard this season and we beat teams like Carleton, Lakehead, York, U of T, Western, StFX and Acadia. It will not get better with one year, but it is a step in the right direction for us.”
With Laurentian’s North Division third place finish, the Voyageurs were granted their first OUA playoff appearance in four years, where they would take on and eventually lose 80-52 to the Queen’s Gaels (11-8) on Feb. 25.
Fourth-year player Devenae Bryce led the Voyageurs in scoring throughout the season with an average of 14.2 points-per-game, which was good enough for a top 10 finish within the OUA’s individual scoring leaders.
Following Bryce’s season output was Danielle Harris and Adrienne Moreau, as both fourth-year players contributed with an average of 12.5 and 9.1 points-per-game.
Even though Laurentian improved in a number of categories this season, Hurley believes his team is still lacking some consistency especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Voyageurs were fifteenth in the OUA with an average of 22.4 defensive rebounds per-game and fifteenth in points allowed per-game with 69.1.
“We are a poor rebounding team and poor defensively,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I thought we had a decent year, but the games we lost, we got beat by over 30 points. The one thing that should be constant within a top 10 program is defensive rebounding, which is not the case on our team. When you don’t commit to rebounding and don’t commit to defending that’s what will happen.”
While defense proved to be something the Voyageurs struggled with, Hurley sees Laurentian’s offense in need of some further development because “our shooting percentage was way too low.”
Although Laurentian shot the second most three-point attempts in the OUA with 25.4, the Voyageurs’ made three-point shots was an average of 23.7, which left them fourteenth in the province.
Also, the Voyageurs shot 32.3 per cent from field goal range, leaving Laurentian, once again, in fourteenth position within the OUA.
Hurley said despite having some trouble on both sides of the court, his team is capable of “getting better.”
“The games we won, our shots went in, and the games we didn`t win, we didn`t shoot the ball well,” he said. “If we can improve on our field goal percentage, three-point percentage and then our defensive rebounding, then we should be alright. You can’t have such low shooting and bad defensive rebounding and be one of the top teams.”
Laurentian has five graduating players this season, which includes fifth-year players Mary Scott and Rebecca Goodier, and fourth-year players Bryce, Moreau and Emily Case.
Hurley is certain these graduating players will be missed, but said his team will have to adjust moving forward, and it starts with gaining “chemistry and working hard” during the off season.
“Of course the more veteran player’s you have, the better you will be,” he said. “We will have good leaders in Danielle (Harris) and L’Ashante (Henry) next year, but unless some of our players actually stay here in the summer, we don’t have a chance. If you look at the best programs, their players stay in the summer and work hard. At minimum, I want players to commit to 10 months because that’s where you stand a chance to compete.”