Thunderwolves open OUA season with trip to Kingston
After a breakout 18-13 season in 2008-09, head coach Jon Kreiner’s Lakehead Thunderwolves women’s basketball team is looking to improve in all areas to ensure that their disappointing first round playoff exit is not repeated in 2009-10. The Wolves will start their OUA journey this weekend as they travel to Kingston, Ontario to challenge the Queen’s Gaels on Friday, before playing the RMC Paladins on Saturday. Both games start at 6:00pm.
The Thunderwolves enter the regular season after going 4-4 during a travel-heavy preseason during which the team played all their games on the road. After building a road-warrior mentality, Lakehead looks to live up to their lofty goals, and their billing as an OUA contender. The CIS Blog currently has the Wolves listed at No. 10 on their nationwide rankings, an accolade that a roster mixed with several veterans and promising freshmen seem ready to build on.
"After a busy preseason we've had a couple of weeks off to get better and prepare for a tough OUA schedule,” says coach Kreiner. “Our players are getting excited to get back on the road and play. We've healed up and for the most part and are battling through the sickness that is going around the country. I think we are starting to realize what needs to be done to be successful and we must now execute our game plan on the court.”
Coach Kreiner’s team loses forward Kathryn Verboom, their leading scorer and second leading rebounder from last season, and key role players, guard Amanda Nesbitt and forward Kendelle Kavanagh. In return, he has added a deep recruiting class featuring seven players.
Two-time NOSSA champion point guard Corina Bruni of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario leads the Wolves’ new pack of recruits and immediately becomes one of Lakehead’s top playmakers.
Laura Gini of Kelowna, BC and Erin Duhaime of Dorchester, Ontario are point guards looking to make the adjustment to CIS-level basketball, while Ayse Kalkan of Winnipeg, and Danarae Sommerville of Ottawa also join the team, bringing skills suited for the backcourt.
Local forward Chelsea Nekuliak transfers to her hometown university from Algoma College in Sault Ste. Marie where she was the school’s Female Athlete of the Year and an OCAA second team All-Star. Rounding out the Wolves’ recruits is wing Tamara Duncan of Dryden, Ontario.
The Thunderwolves will bring back a strong group of returning players, highlighted by senior point guard and captain Tasia McKenna. McKenna was an OUA All-Star in 2008-09 and is looking for bigger and better things this year. The team’s top ball-handler and perimeter defender, she will be counted on at both ends of the court.
Fifth-year senior post Shannon Vellinga, and junior forward Lindsay Druery will see their roles increase in 2009-10 as they join McKenna as team captains. Vellinga is a strong interior defender for the Wolves who has expanded her offensive abilities over her CIS career, while Druery is the team’s top rebounder and a major presence inside the paint.
Fourth-year guard Georgia Harvey started for the Thunderwolves last season and is poised to step up her play and contribute every game. Fellow fourth-years, wing Sarah Gordon, guard Lisa Styles and guard Chiaki Nakamura are key candidates to replace Verboom as the fifth starter, while third-year forward Emily Ross aims to translate a strong offseason and training camp into a big role this season.
Coach Kreiner has assembled a balance roster blending youth and experience, inside strength and outside finesse. With McKenna, Vellinga and Druery as the cornerstones, Lakehead is looking to not only qualify for the OUA playoffs for the third time in four seasons, but to clinch a home playoff game and push deep into the postseason.
The Gaels, led by head coach Dave Wilson are a sound team that will rely on good execution and balance between their shooters and interior players.
Leading the team is guard Brittany Moore who made 61 three-pointers in 2008-09, tied with Lakehead’s Tasia McKenna for second in the CIS.
Inside, Erin Skippon is a strong threat for the Gaels and brings a sound skill set to the post position.
Lakehead will also need to concern themselves with wing Katie Guthrie, a fifth-year senior and former OUA all-star who transfers to Queen’s from Guelph. She is a very aggressive and strong perimeter player.
Head coach Brad Schur leads a young team into battle that will test the Thunderwolves’ three-point defence. They have brought in a good recruiting class and will have a mix of experience and youth. RMC will mix it up defensively and will be in tremendous shape.
Last Edited: November 3rd, 2009
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