Women's basketball flush with young talent ahead of new season

Gaels looking to bounce back after quarterfinal exit last year

Head coach Dave Wilson said the women’s team is appearing more offensively-oriented to start this season.

After falling early in the playoffs last season, a new batch of young players may pick the women’s basketball team back up this season.

“We’re very talented, but very young,” head coach Dave Wilson told The Journal earlier this week. It’s setting up to be a transition season for the Gaels, who lost a number of key veteran players after last season to graduation.

The result is an influx of young athletes: the Gaels’ 17-woman roster is comprised of 10 first and second-year players. Wilson acknowledged the limitations of lacking experience, but trusts his group, who’s had their fair share of floor time on big stages.

“They’re used to winning so that’s a really positive sign,” Wilson said of his team. “They have a winning attitude.”

Of the new faces gracing the ARC’s hardwood this season, first-year Laura Donovan will be one of the most prominent. Donovan was a member of A.B. Lucas SS’ Women’s A OFSAA-winning team in 2016 and was recently invited to Team Canada’s under-18 national tryouts. Wilson said her athleticism will be one of many characteristics that’ll fill in some of the gaps left by graduated seniors.

“She’s athletic, she can shoot the three and she’s long—almost six feet tall,” he said. “We’re happy to have her.”

Of the Gaels’ returning players, post Veronika Lavergne and guard Marianne Alarie are expected to be two of the most familiar faces on the floor this season. The two players led the team in points per game last season with 13.5 and 12.3, respectively.

Last season, Wilson noted the Gaels had difficulty meshing as the season progressed. He felt his offensive and defensive systems didn’t click until late in the season.

Yet even with a younger squad, Wilson said he sees his team already coming together—and perhaps at a quicker pace than expected.

“They’ve actually played well together and started to learn each other’s habits so I actually think we’re slightly ahead of the curve to where I expected to be at this time,” he said.

While Wilson has touted the team’s reputation for having a strong and steady defensive core in the past, he feels the Gaels are currently lacking there. Nonetheless, he said he’s seeing a team with stronger offensive tendencies than years past.

“[Defence is] something that takes time to learn, so I actually consider it a little weaker than I expect but that’s … basic youth,” Wilson said. “We can score from a variety of positions … we can shoot better than we did last year.”

And while a young team often provides coaches with a sense of uncertainty, Wilson believes the Gaels will sit firmly in the top three of the OUA East, most likely behind UOttawa and Ryerson.

“We’re probably top three in the East,” he said. “It’s going to take us a little time to get mature as a team, but I’m feeling pretty good.”

The team opens their season on Friday in Toronto against the York Lions. They’ll host their first pair of home games on Nov. 9 and 10 against Guelph and Algoma.

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