Veronika Lavergne makes big jump in second season

Women's basketball post sheds light on her sophomore year  

Veronika Lavergne averages an OUA-high 2.1 blocks per game.
Veronika Lavergne averages an OUA-high 2.1 blocks per game.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Women’s basketball’s Veronika Lavergne has made a name for herself in more ways than one this season.

The second-year post player — who transferred to Queen’s from the University of Albany in 2016 — has taken a leap that’s been hard to ignore. She currently leads the nationally ranked Gaels in points, free throw attempts, field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. 

Queen’s head coach Dave Wilson has often preached unity and cohesion — not individual skill — as the backbones to a team’s success. But beyond the notion of collective play yielding greater results, Lavergne’s individual development warrants notice. 

In her first season with the team, Lavergne started just two of 19 games, posting averages of eight points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. This season she has started all but one game, averaging 14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and an OUA-leading 2.1 blocks per game.

“I think just some of the way our plays are set up and the way that teams are guarding us … it’s complementary to my personal skill set,” Lavergne said of her growth this season.  “We have shooters, we have players who drive into the key — when you have players who can do that kind of stuff, it keeps the other team’s defense honest.” 

What could be further credited to Lavergne’s improved play are the increased opportunities she’s seen on the floor. The departures of seniors Emily Hazlett and Robyn Pearson — who last season started every game while averaging 24.2 and 22.7 minutes per game respectively — have been a gateway for Lavergne to find more open lanes on offense. 

“Those were two players and two positions we kind of had to fill,” she said of her former teammates. Lavergne added that Wilson — particularly since his recruitment of her from Albany in 2016 — has talked to her about her potential as an inside post-up player. 

“[Wilson] said that just because of my height and the league that we play in, I have a lot of potential in that I can score a lot or get rebounds,” Lavergne explained of the head coach’s message regarding her skillset. “Within the structure of our plays, they’d kind of be set up more for my position [to] get the ball.” 

And it has been evident this year. 

Lavergne checks in the top-10 of the OUA’s leaders in points (ninth), free throws made (sixth), field goal percentage (second) and blocks per game (first). Most impressive, however, may be her efficiency. 

Of the top 15 scorers per game in the conference, Lavergne averages the least minutes — in fact, she doesn’t even crack the OUA’s top-50 among leaders in minutes per game this season.  Despite her jump in numbers across the board compared to last season, Lavergne is only averaging six minutes more per game while doubling her on-court production. 

“It’s because I’m so close to the net and getting good looks,” Lavergne said. “During practice, we usually work on physicality. So we’ll have players, like, slap our arms while we’re finishing layups so we get used to it in a game.” 

Despite being in a groove, Lavergne said she has goals which extend beyond personal achievements during her career at Queen’s. 

She wants to win on the big stage — and then do it a second, hopefully third, time over.

“[O]ur goal this year is go to Nationals and bring back a medal for sure. And over the next few years we want to win again.”

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