The Conestoga women’s basketball team has improved upon last season and is well prepared for the fast-approaching regular season, its coaches say.
The Condors finished last season with a 5-15 record, which was enough to earn them a playoff spot but they are aiming to do better.
“Last season we managed to make playoffs, so we came eighth out of 11 teams in the West Division,” said head coach Dee Channer. She believes that the team has developed immensely and is looking much better this year.
The team has a few players who are in their second season, which is a major factor in being successful, she says. It is a huge plus to have experienced players on the court as they can serve as mentors and team captains. Veteran players add depth and chemistry to the roster, which is crucial.
The Condors have also had various new additions to the roster, which has complemented the team’s talent and skill.
“We have three returning players and all the rest are brand new, but a lot of them are top recruits, which is amazing,” said Channer.
Todd Erskin, the assistant manager of athletics and recreation, believes last year the team was developing and making the playoffs was a major success.
“Coming off last year was their first year back in the OCAA, so definitely as an “expansion team,” it was really good that we made the playoffs,” said Erskin. ”This was a good confidence booster for the program. That helped Coach Dee with her recruiting, so she has a vision and had a long-term plan.”
Erskin praised Channer as a coach, and described how she worked hard over the off season to recruit new players. He explained that the success of the team last season attracted new players.
“Along with the returning players and the recruits she brought in, she was very active in getting the first-year players in,” said Erskin.
Erskin believes there is a lot of positive components to build off last season, and that the team will be much more of a legitimate contender this season.
“I think it’s a good core that they have, and it’s going to build off that success from last year that I think they are going to further — [they’ll] vault up in the standings and be a playoff contender.”
The Condors have played three pre-season games so far and have fared quite well, going 2-1. Conestoga its their first match to the University of Waterloo, but they went on to win two in a row, defeating both Centennial and Georgian.
“They won their pre-season games. which is good. They’ve defeated Centennial and Georgian, so that’s great because that’s two OCAA teams,” said Erskin: “It’s good to go up against that competition and to see that they are building off last year and that they’ve definitely improved from last year.”
“There are a lot of high expectations —you know, buzz around the conferences. I think they know that we have good players,” said Channer. “They’ve worked hard. They started in the summer working hard, training every day.”
Asked what expectations he has for the season, Erskin said: “Just keep supporting Coach Dee with what she’s set out to do with the team and she has a deeper roster this year.”
Erskin talked about the importance of team chemistry and having a strong core bench.
“In basketball you have five players on the court at a time but it’s important to have a good bench, and I think she has a much-improved bench this year,” said Erskin. “That’s going to help them late in games for sure.”
Channer also talked about other things the team worked on during the off-season.
“We hired a skills coach, an old university coach that specializes in skills. We’ve been doing that about twice a week. They have their strength and conditioning going on; they have their team scrimmages going on.”
When Channer was asked how the team will do this season she said: “If we do what were capable of, we work hard and we play, I think we can do pretty well and be up there.”
Channer said that the expectations of the team are to make the championship tournament.
The new season kicks off away against Lambton College tonight.
The 2018-2019 schedule can be found here.