WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: 2014-15 SEASON PREVIEW

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LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western women’s basketball team is a group on the rise and one with a bright future. With a veteran core missed with a pair of highly-touted recruits, the Spartans enter this year as optimistic as they’ve ever been under coach Cheryl Jean-Paul and are aiming to make a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Spartans open their season this weekend, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, when they travel to play Manitoba. They return to Langley for their home-opening weekend Nov. 7-8 against Alberta at the Langley Events Centre.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

Trinity Western University Spartans
Key Returnees: Chantelle Martin G, Luca Schmidt G, Laurissa Weigl F, Kayla Gordon F, Kristin Ford F
Key Additions: Jessie Brown G, Tessa Ratzlaff F
Key Departures: Holly Strom F, Janelle Traber G
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: #11
CIS Ranking: NR
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 5-17
2013-14 Regular Season Pacific Division Standings: 6th
2013-14 Playoff Record: N/A
2013-14 Playoff Result: N/A
Last CW Championship: N/A
Last CIS Championship: N/A

This year’s Trinity Western women’s basketball team will be young, energetic and will play an up-tempo style that is sure to win over fans.

With only three players – Chantelle Martin (5th year – Surrey, B.C.), Laurissa Weigl (5th year – Stony Plain, Alta.) and Kristin Ford (4th year – Okotoks, Alta.) – playing beyond their third of eligibility, the Spartans have youth on their side and a bright future, both immediately and down the road.

The departure of Holly Strom, who is arguably the best player in Spartans history, the Spartans will have a nearly large gap to fill. However, the injuries that limited Strom to just four games in the second semester might prove to be a silver lining as the Spartans already have an idea of what life is like without her.

Along with Strom, TWU will also have to replace Janelle Traber, who averaged 10.3 points per game last year. Expect those roles to be filled by committee.

With second-year forward Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.), who was named to last year’s Canada West All-Rookie team, taking the next step in her development and veterans Weigl and Ford coming into their own as senior members of the squad, the Spartans will have a dynamic front court.

In the back court, third-year Luca Schmidt (Langley) will run the offence for the second straight year while Martin will be contributing scorer from the outside.

Coming off the bench, the Spartans have a pair of highly-regarded first-year players in guard Jessie Brown (Langley) and forward Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.), who will certainly make an impact, along with third-year guards Jamie Andrews-Stobart (Edmonton) and Natalie Carkner (Port Coquitlam, B.C.).

The Spartans will be a dangerous team in transition and, with the likes of Brown, Schmidt and Carkner, will have a much-improved 3-point shooting game.

Similarly to last year, the Spartans aren’t big, so playing with an up-tempo pace and using their depth will be key to their success.

After a five-win season last year, the Spartans have their sights set on a much improved 2014-15 campaign. Playing in the Pioneers Division, the Spartans will be challenged to make the post-season, but if TWU can get off to a quick start, coach Cheryl Jean-Paul could have her team in a position to make a playoff appearance.

University of Alberta Pandas
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 2nd overall, 2nd in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 6th
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 3rd (Bronze)
2013-14 CW Record: 20-2
Last CIS Title: 1999
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Sally Hillier, Saskia Van Ginhoven, Jessilyn Fairbanks, Kendra Asleson, Renee Byrne, Maddie Rogers, Megan Van de Kraats

Key additions: Sydney Kumar, Megan Tywoniuk, Tess Heinricks

Key departures: Andria Carlyon, Kelly Lyons

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Pandas basketball team will be looking to pick up where it left off last season, with another appearance in the Canada West championship, as well as a trip to the Bronze Baby tournament.

Alberta, which earned a 20-2 record in conference play last year, and recorded a team record 19-game consecutive win streak, went on to the capture Canada West bronze last season, as well as sixth place at the CIS championship tournament.

The Pandas return 11 players from last season, including three starters and seven of their top eight scorers. Key returning players include Saskia Van Ginhoven, Kendra Aselson, Renee Bryne, Megan Van de Kraats, Jessilyn Fairbanks, Sally Hillier, and Maddie Rogers.

Alberta opens the regular season on October 31st at home against Saskatchewan.

UBC Thunderbirds
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 1st overall, 1st in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals
2013-14 CW Record: 16-6
Last CIS Title: 2008
Last CW Title: 2012
Key returnees: Kris Young, Cassandra Knievel, Adrienne Parkin, Harleen Sidhu

Key additions: Diana Lee, Kara Spotton

Key departures: Maggie Sundberg, Jaime Hills

VANCOUVER – Deb Huband enters her 20th season as the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds. For the 2014-15 campaign, Huband brought in a small but impactful recruiting class of two NCAA Division I transfers to bolster an already solid lineup.

Guard Kris Young, the 2012-13 Canada West Most Valuable Player and the team’s leading scorer, is reunited with her high school teammate Diana Lee, who spent three seasons as the starting point guard at Boise State University.

Fourth-year player Cassandra Knievel was the team’s third-leading scorer last season while Cherub Lum will back up Lee at point guard. Both Knievel and Lum have started during UBC’s perfect seven-game pre-season run.

In the front court, the T-Birds got more depth with the addition of Colorado State University transfer Kara Spotton, a member of Team Canada at the 2013 Universiade in Russia. Harleen Sidhu, an all-around threat, was one of two T-Birds last year to average more than 15 points a game last year. Adrienne Parkin, who was third on the roster in rebounds and blocks in 2013-14, will also figure prominently in the starting rotation.

Coach Huband will have many good options off the bench with Steph Bell, Andrea Strujic, Lauren Seabrook, Susan Thompson and Kamila Wojciechowski.

On the weekend of November 7-8, UBC will play its first two games of the Canada West regular season against the University of Victoria Vikes.

UBC Okanagan Heat
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 15th overall, 4th in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 3-19
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Sarah Allison, Claire Elliott, Jessica Jazdarehee, Olivia Johnson, Emily Kanester, Kayla McFadden, Tia Sadler, Shenelle Tamminen, Angela White

Key additions: Vanessa Botteselle, Michaela England, Haylie Gibb, Racheal Knoll

Key departures: Krystal Schouten, Julia Reichert

KELOWNA – Prior to entering her 21st season as the head women’s basketball coach at UBC Okanagan, Heather Semeniuk has decided to say this will be her last year on the bench for the Heat.

The 2014-15 season will be the first for UBC Okanagan in the Explorers Division of Canada West and will see a much different schedule format for the Heat, facing each of the six teams in the Explorers four times – doubleheaders at home and on the road versus each school. The six schools are Fraser Valley, MacEwan, Mount Royal, UNBC, Thompson Rivers, and UBC Okanagan.

Returning 85 percent of their minutes from last season, the roster, although still mainly composed of second and their year players, will be quite experienced.

Leading the way in experience will be Semeniuk’s trio of guards, Angela White (North Vancouver, BC) in her fifth year and the two fourth year’s Emily Kanester (Vernon, BC) and Sarah Allison (Surrey, BC). The triad has been consistent starters for the past two seasons, averaging close to 30 minutes a game in that time.

Kanester and Allison are both combo guards that score consistent double-digits and both have a knack for getting to the free-throw line. White has been assigned the toughest defensive task the last four seasons, and has excelled in that role. This season, as a fifth year leader, Angela has embraced a leadership role with the young team.

White will mentor a pair of young guards in Olivia Johnson (Kelowna, BC) and Claire Elliott, both strong defenders, and Claire is a true point guard from North Vancouver who loves to get her teammates involved.

One of Semeniuk’s rookies is also a North Vancouver point guard who makes their teammates better. Vanessa Botteselle from Saint Thomas Aquinas is in the same mold as Elliott, excelling at defense and distributing the ball.

A pair of versatile players in Haylie Gibb and Michaela England (Chilliwack, BC) have also made the roster, and both can play multiple positions with length. Haylie showed a propensity for scoring at Salmon Arm Secondary and will soon add that dimension to her game for UBC Okanagan.

Two players have really stepped up their offense in the preseason so far as third year guard Jessica Jazdarehee (Coquitlam, BC) and second year wing Shenelle Tamminen (Calgary, BC) both have put up impressive stat lines this fall.

Tamminen and third year forward Kayla McFadden (Pitt Meadows, BC) will both log a fair amount of minutes in the post with Schouten and Reichert not returning for this season.

The new schedule in the new Explorers Division in coach Semeniuk’s final year begins on November 7-8 when the Heat open up at home against the Fraser Valley Cascades.

Brandon University Bobcats
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 13th overall, 10th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 6-16
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Aleah Bridges, Kaela Cranston, Stephanie Haynes, Keegan Robinson, Stephanie Hunter, Ambrea McDonald-Okoro, Kinsley Ransom, Amy Williams

Key additions: Kylee Howard, Alyssa Montgomery, Mikaela Stanton, Shayna Mathison, Kira Tufts

Key departures: Cassie Cooke, Jaynell Gillett

BRANDON – The Bobcats women’s basketball team is coming off its most successful season in 30 years, and this year’s squad hopes to continue that trend of improving and moving up the Canada West standings.

Following a tough three-year conference winless stretch, last year’s version of the ‘Cats snapped a couple of dubious skids, beginning with the team’s first road win against UNBC which also led to the team’s first winning streak in years thanks to a 80-72 double OT win over Mount Royal.

Coach Novell Thomas and his team followed that up with big wins over Manitoba, UBC Okanagan and Lethbridge, and some real close games to Thompson Rivers, Winnipeg and Calgary. The improvement from the past few seasons was in the team’s record, and now the Bobcats will look to roll that into 2014-15.

Last year’s conference leading scorer Cassie Cooke left the team to pursue professional opportunities, and last year’s starting centre in Jaynell Gillett will not return after exhausting her eligibility.

Returning starters Aleah Bridges, Kaela Cranston and Stephanie Haynes will log a lot of playing time as younger players and newcomers adapt to the speed and skill of the CIS game, but the Bobcats feature the deepest bench the team has seen in years.

Bridges and Cranston both finished in the top 10 in the conference in minutes played last year, and will likely see the floor often again this year. Bridges’ ability to move the ball up the court was evident last year, and the Berkeley, Calif. product continues to impress in the preseason. Cranston has proven to be a serious three-point threat for the Bobcats, as her ability to shoot from downtown had her finish fourth in the conference in three-pointers made last year.

American imports Alyssa Montgomery and Mikaela Stanton have impressed in the preseason. Montgomery is a bruising power forward with a soft touch on offense while Stanton, a shooting guard from Palomar College, has shown range from different areas on the floor. College transfers Kylee Howard and Kira Tufts both come to BU from Medicine Hat College while Hamiota Collegiate product Shayna Mathison is the only high school recruit to join this year’s active roster.

The Bobcats open the 2014-15 Canada West regular season with a pair of home games against the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Halloween weekend.

University of Calgary Dinos
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 7th overall, 7th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals
2013-14 CW Record: 7-15
Last CIS Title: 1989
Last CW Title: 2001
Key returnees: Kristie Sheils, Ashley Hirons, Jessica Thielen

Key additions: Shinelle Handzuik, Kelsey Lund

Key departures: Tamara Jarrett

CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos women’s basketball team enters the 2014-15 season with a strong mix of veterans and several new recruits, as they look to return to the playoffs. Despite the loss of fifth-year all-star Tamara Jarrett, who led the team in scoring and steals last year, Head Coach Damian Jennings is looking to veteran players Kristie Sheils, Ashley Hirons and Jessica Thielen to fill the role of senior leadership, as well as to lead the team to another winning season.

“We have made sound progress this off-season and pre-season and it has been as comprehensive a preparation phase as we could have created,” Jennings said. “There are no weak teams in Canada West, this is going to be a very tough season, highly competitive with I’m sure results people did not expect on paper.”

The Dinos went 13-9 last year and were sixth in the conference in points allowed, giving up just 61.3 points per game and fourth in defensive field goal percentage at 35 percent. Along with key returning players Sheils, Hirons and Thielen, the team also brings in some fresh faces highlighted by the highly sought-after recruit Shinelle Handzuik out of Regina. In her senior year of high school, she led her team to an undefeated regular season, as well as city and provincial titles. She also developed her skills with Doggpound Elite at their basketball academy in Regina and has played on Team Saskatchewan. The Dinos will also look to newcomer Kelsey Lund to be a force inside, after transferring from the University of Alberta-Augustana.

Sheils was second on the team in scoring last year behind Jarrett at 11.7 points per game, and led the team in assists while also leading the conference in free throw percentage at 84 percent. Hirons was in the Canada West top 10 in three-point field goals made, while also being effective at the defensive end by being second on the team in steals. Thielen also returns as the team’s leading rebounder from last season, and was 11th overall with 7.3 per game.

Along with Handzuik and Lund, the Dinos also welcome five other new faces, including Chloe Campbell out of Victoria and international recruit Freya Szmidt out of England. Transfers include Emma Nieuwenhuizen from Western, and Claire Colbourne and Vanessa Wesolowski, both from UNB.

“The new recruits are exciting because they offer something different, but are without doubt, already excellent character representations of what it is to be a Dino,” Jennings said, adding he’s also looking to other players entering their second years with the program to contribute such as Brianna Ghali, Aimee Wilson and Clarise Jennings, who all saw significant time on the floor last season.

This will also be the last run for fifth-year forward Lawrie Saunders, who led the team in blocks last year. After sitting out their first years to injury last year, Emily Morales and Anmol Mattu will also make their Dino debuts this season.

The team also goes into the 2014-15 season after a thorough preseason, which included a win over the Fraser Valley Cascades, the team that defeated them in the first-round best-of-three series in the Canada West playoffs last year.

Jennings enters his third season as head coach, with assistants Katherine Adams and Matthew Spencer.

For the second straight season, the Dinos open the season against Winnipeg when they visit the Wesmen on Halloween night. The teams also opened the last year in Calgary, where the Dinos won both games, 64-59 and 63-56.

The team’s home opener is Friday, November 7 against the Brandon Bobcats.

University of Fraser Valley Cascades
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 8th overall, 1st in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 3rd (Bronze)
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 2nd (Silver)
2013-14 CW Record: 17-5
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Sarah Wierks, Nataliia Gavryliuk, Celeste Dyck, Katie Brink, Shayna Litman

Key additions: Jenika Bannerman, Danielle Vanbergen

Key departures: Aieisha Luyken, Nicole Wierks, Courtney Bartel

ABBOTSFORD – The Cascades are a far different team from the one that won the Canada West silver medal and the CIS bronze last spring, but the 2014-15 edition of the squad still has the type of talent and experience to be a contender once again.

The Cascades waved goodbye to six key players after their deep playoff run last season, including starting point guard Aieisha Luyken, lockdown defender Nicole Wierks and three-point shooting ace Courtney Bartel.

But they bring back a number of key veterans, led by fifth-year centre Sarah Wierks. The Chilliwack, B.C. native was the team’s leading scorer in 2013-14, averaging 11.9 points per game, and her 8.1 rebounds per game ranked sixth-best in Canada West. Between Wierks and third-year forwards Katie Brink and Shayna Litman, the Cascades’ frontcourt figures to shoulder an increased share of the team’s scoring load.

In the backcourt, fifth-year point guard Celeste Dyck takes over the starting job, and Hailey Kendall and Kaitlyn McDonald will take on larger roles as sophomores. Nataliia Gavryliuk, a third-year guard/forward from Kiev, Ukraine, brings a playmaking flair and will be among the team’s scoring leaders.

University of Lethbridge Pronghorns
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 12th overall, 9th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 6-16
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: 1993
Key returnees: Kim Veldman, Mariah Miller, Sara Simovic, Zoe Dahl

Key additions: Allexia Barros, Kaitlin Bracko, Courtney Kwasney, Kylie Mazutinec

Key departures: Kaitlyn Olsen, Ali Cameron

LETHBRIDGE – With increased expectations heading into the 2013-14 season, the Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team took a slight stumble last season, missing the post-season for the fourth consecutive year with a 6-16 record, after narrowly missing the playoff dance a year earlier.

Returning for her final season, superstar post Kim Veldman will be once again be leaned on heavily this season. In only four seasons, Veldman became the Pronghorns all-time leading rebounder last season and was named a Canada West second team all-star.

During her all-star season, Veldman recorded nine double-doubles en route to being the conference’s third leading scorer (18.7 ppg) and second leading rebounder (9.8 rpg).

Outside of Veldman, the Pronghorns will be one of the youngest teams in the conference and have limited experience at the CIS level, but the outlook for the sophomores and college transfers are bright.

American junior college transfer Allexia Barros joins the ‘Horns from Rhode Island Community College and looks to bring the Pronghorns a dynamic guard with the ability to take some of the scoring pressure off Veldman. In two seasons in Rhode Island the New Bedford, Massachusetts native poured in 988 points, becoming the programs second all-time leading scorer.

After seeing significant playing time as freshmen, the expectations on Mariah Miller and Sara Simovic will be increased. The progression of Zoe Dahl has been a pleasant surprise, while ACAC transfer Kaitlin Bracko will be counted on to make a quick transition to the CIS game.

The Pronghorns will open the 2014-15 Canada West season on the road, traveling to Brandon to face the Bobcats.

MacEwan University Griffins
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 10th overall, 3rd in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: N/A
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Megan Wood, Kelly Fagan, Kendall Lydon

Key additions: Kelly O’Hallahan, Kari Kubinec

Key departures: Bayan Kurd

EDMONTON – Last season the MacEwan University Griffins finished the season with a national bronze medal around their necks, albeit in a different league. This season, the Griffins will face a much tougher task with the move into the Canada West league, but appear to be up to the challenge.

Megan Wood, the ACAC Player of the Year in 2014, is back for her third season in the maroon and white. A dynamic player, Wood has the ability to shoot the ball from nearly anywhere, inside or out, creating numerous matchup issues.

The returning cast will also include veteran starters Kelly Fagan and Kendall Lydon. Fagan heads into her fourth year with the Griffins, while Lydon enters her second year after previously transferring from the University of Alberta. With a short bench this season, both Fagan, a post player, and Lydon, a guard, will be counted on to be workhorses this season along with Wood.

Understanding the upcoming landscape, head coach Rob Poole recruited several key players to immediately fill key roles, including a pair of guards in Kelly O’Hallahan and Kari Kubinec. O’Hallahan, a former All-Canadian and Grande Prairie Regional College transfer, and Kubinec, a University of Alberta at Augustana transfer, bring pedigree and experience to a Griffins squad that will require stability as they make their league transition. The pair will also help fill the void left by fifth year graduate Bayan Kurd.

The Griffins will open their season when they host the Mount Royal Cougars on November 7 at 6:00 p.m.

University of Manitoba Bisons
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 14th overall, 11th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 5-17
Last CIS Title: 1997
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Robyn Eyer, Sheree Carmona-Galdamez, Stephanie Gill, Vanessa DeVries

Key additions: Montana Kinzel

Key departures: Christiane Fischer, Morgan Cross

WINNIPEG – For this season, the Bisons women’s basketball team will have a familiar face at head coach. Michele Hynes takes over permanently at the helm after two years as co-coach with Randy Kusano and looks to improve the culture for the BIsons.

Her goal early in her coaching career is to mold a team that will grow over the year and stick with the game plan. The squad might not win every time out but Hynes is placing emphasis also on development and experience playing at the conference level for the young squad in 2014-15.

The Bisons have a core group that returns from last season, which saw them improve on the win total from the previous season. The core starts with fifth year guard and team captain Robyn Eyer (second in Canada West in three-point percentage), fifth year guard Sheree Carmona-Galdamez (top Bison in scoring at 10.8 points per game), fifth year guard Stephanie Gill (T-12th in Canada West in three-pointers made) and fifth year forward Vanessa DeVries (second on Bisons in rebounding at 5.0 per game). In addition, fifth year forwards Samantha Pyke and Allison Balasko plus third year forward Rebecca Potter and sophomores Jenilyn Monton, Christina Posthumus and Claire Harvey will add depth to a lineup that can be versatile depending on the opponent.

A rookie that should make an immediate impact at Manitoba is 6’0” forward Montana Kinzel. Kinzel was the fourth ranked player in the province in the 2013-14 season playing for Linden Christian High School. Coming off a AAA provincial championship in 2012-2013, the AAA school competed in the AAAA division and Kinzel averaged 24 points, ten rebounds, three steals and three blocks per game as she guided her squad to a 26-5 record. She was selected as an AAAA Female All-Manitoba Team selection and Graduating All-Star Team MVP.

Hynes is looking for the team to control the tempo and have better shot selection on offence (more shots from inside than three-pointers) while playing tough defence and keeping the scores in the 55-60 point range. She likes the mix of veterans and enthusiasm of the young players that are focused on the process of being a better program with a competitiveness that will create a new culture.

This is a start of a new cycle for the Bison women’s basketball. They will be a tough team to play in the ultra-competitive new Pioneers Division in Canada West this season.

Mount Royal University Cougars
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 17th overall, 6th in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 2-20
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Candice Duckett, Angela Driscoll, Melissa Moore, Brooke Lister

Key additions: Jayla Verney, Tyleigha Nelson, Desiree Oakley, Abby Gibb

Key departures: Danica Rybachuk, Nikki Golding, Carrie Campbell, Alicia Tan

CALGARY – The women’s basketball team may have had the largest team overhaul in Mount Royal history this past off-season. Only six of last season’s 15 player roster will be returning. Seven freshman recruits will be joining the Cougars in 2014-15 and will likely play a vital role in the team’s success this year.

The Cougars will be without their four top scorers from last season. Danica Rybachuk, Jordan MacLean, Alicia Tan and Carrie Campbell have all moved on from the Cougars. Combined, those four players averaged 41.7 of the team’s 56.6 points per game in 2013-14.

With so much change in their lineup, the senior leadership on the squad will fall on three third year players; Angela Driscoll, Cassidy Taal and Candice Duckett. Calgary native Angela Driscoll is one of the team’s best leaders on and off the court. On the court she is as fierce a competitor as there is, while outside of basketball, her hard work and dedication set the standard for her teammates and other athletes within the department.

Coming all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia are a trio of athletes that Coach Len Harvey recruited from his time as the provincial team head coach in the summer of 2013. Jayla Verney, Desiree Oakley and Tyleigha Nelson are slated to be three of the top players for the Cougars.

“Desi [Oakley] has worked hard to become a serious offensive threat, especially from behind the three point line and in transition, but no one can take anything away from her defensive abilities,” Coach Harvey said of his latest recruit. “A relentless defender, she has given her opponents fits in high school, nationally, and internationally.”

“Ty [Nelson] is an explosive player and a passionate competitor with an impressive level of athleticism. With her athletic ability and strength, she is one of the few players I’ve seen that is able to truly defend most positions on the floor at any given time. This makes her a huge asset to any team,” explained Coach Harvey.

“Jayla [Verney] is one of the best all-around players to come out of Atlantic Canada. With her slashing ability, as well as her outside shooting touch, Jay has the potential to score in bunches at any level,” Harvey noted about his first year guard.

UNBC Timberwolves
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 16th overall, 5th in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 6-16
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Sarah Robin, Cassie Rerick, Mavia Nijjer

Key additions: Vasiliki Louka, Hannah Pudlas, Stacey Graham

Key departures: Mercedes VanKoughnett, Jen Bruce, Emily Kaehn, Chelsey Thorne

PRINCE GEORGE – After losing the core of their starting line-up, the Timberwolves are looking at a building year. Led by lone veteran Sarah Robin, the Timberwolves will look to build the experience of their young squad.

Four senior players graduated out of the Timberwolves program last year, among the group was star guard Mercedes VanKoughnett. VanKoughnett ranked among the top 10 in multiple Canada West stat categories and led the Timberwolves in points, rebounds, and assists last season. Other notable departures include Jen Bruce, Emily Kaehn and Chelsey Thorne. Bruce provided the Timberwolves with points from the field while Kaehn was able to battle inside the key against players who consistently outsized her.

The Timberwolves will be led by lone fifth year Sarah Robin. Robin has been a staple in UNBC’s starting line-up for the last three seasons and will continue to lead her team during her final year. Second year guard Cassie Rerick will take on a major role with the Timberwolves, filling in for VanKoughnett, controlling the backcourt and ball.

Trying to fill some of the gaps for the Timberwolves will be rookie forward Vasiliki Louka and local recruit Hannah Pudlas. Louka has already shown to be dominant on the boards during the preseason. Pudlas, a local Prince George recruit, is going to be a talented ball-handler for the Timberwolves, providing the depth they will need off the bench against some of the tougher teams.

The Timberwolves open their 2014-15 season in Kamloops, BC November 7-8 against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. UNBC’s home opener will be held November 21-22 against the Mount Royal Cougars.

University of Regina Cougars
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 4th overall, 4th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 4th
2013-14 CW Record: 20-2
Last CIS Title: 2001
Last CW Title: 2013
Key returnees: Jennilea Coppola, Kehlsie Crone, Alyssia Kajati, Charlotte Kot, Katie Polischuk

Key additions: Britton Belyk, Christina McCusker

Key departures: Megan Chamberlin, Nicole Clarke, Madi Docherty, Janine Guijt

REGINA – After losing two starters including All-Canadian guard Nicole Clarke and two key reserves, the University of Regina’s women’s basketball team will have a different look this year but the No. 8-ranked Cougars should still have enough returning talent for another strong Canada West season.

Fourth-year guard Kehlsie Crone will run the point for the Cougars as she enters her third season as a starter for the U of R. Fifth-year post Jennilea Coppola and third-year forward Charlotte Kot also reclaim their starting positions from a year ago, while Katie Polischuk and Alyssia Kajati will both transition to the starting lineup after seeing heavy minutes off the bench last season.

With Clarke and Janine Guijt both gone, much of the Cougars’ scoring will come from different sources. Polischuk is the team’s leading returning scorer, as she averaged 12.4 points per game last year while being one of only three Canada West players to shoot in excess of 40% from three-point range. Kot averaged 10.7 points per game last year while leading the team in rebounding but if the non-conference schedule is any indication, Kajati is poised to enjoy a breakout season for this U of R team.

Taylor Pelletier has seen the most dramatic increase in playing time so far this season, breaking into the starting lineup for much of the non-conference schedule while leading the team in minutes played. The Cougars will also look for contributions from second-year players Sara Hubenig and Caitlin Zacharias as well as rookies Britton Belyk and Christina McCusker.

The Cougars went 8-3 against CIS competition in their 11 non-conference games and begin the Canada West schedule this weekend with a pair of away games at Victoria.

University of Saskatchewan Huskies
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 3rd overall, 3rd in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 4th
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: 1st (Gold)
2013-14 CW Record: 17-5
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: 2014
Key returnees: Dalyce Emmerson, Kabree Howard, Kelsey Trulsrud, Riley Humbert

Key additions: Laura Dally, Maya Olynyk, Sascha Lichtenwald, Vera Crooks

Key departures: Kiera Lyons

SASKATOON – Returning four of five starters for the 2014-15 season, the reigning Canada West champion University of Saskatchewan Huskie women’s basketball will look to defend its title.

Leading the lineup is 2013-14 Canada West MVP and Canada West Defensive Player of the Year Dalyce Emmerson and veteran guards Kabree Howard, Riley Humbert and Kelsey Trulsrud. In addition, the Huskies add CIS-transfer Laura Dally, B.C. native Maya Olynyk and Saskatchewan high school recruits Sascha Lichtenwald and Vera Crooks.

Emmerson, a 6-3 post, finished 2013-14 second in the Canada West in scoring with 19.2 points per game and first in rebounds with 11.6 per game. The fourth-year also had the second-best field goal percentage in the conference and led the nation in blocks with 63. Fifth-year point guard Howard will continue to quarterback the offence after averaging 9 points and tallying 89 assists in the previous season. Trulsrud chipped in another 7.5 points per game and averaged five rebounds per game. Humbert started all 22 games in 2013-14, averaging 6.6 points per game.

Hoping to fill the void left by the graduation of Kiera Lyons and her 12.6 points per game is CIS-transfer Dally. Dally, a 6-0 guard from Bright’s Grove, Ont., spent three seasons with the Western Mustangs in the OUA. A two-time OUA All-Star, Dally finished the 2012-13 OUA season among the Top 20 scorers after averaging 12 points per game, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals. B.C.’s Olynyk will finally step on the court after missing the 2013-14 season with an injury. A highly-sought after recruit, Olynyk led her high school squad to two provincial championships, where she was named MVP. She was also a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

High school recruit Lichtenwald was a potent scorer in high school and has the potential to contribute in the backcourt rotation. Vera Crooks is a 6-2 freshman and will be adjusting to the speed and physicality of the Canada West. She is the sister to Canada West all-time leading scorer Sarah Crooks.

Saskatchewan finished third in the conference’s Prairies Division with a 17-5 record in 2013-14, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds in three games on the road to advance to the Canada West Final Four. The Huskies took the Canada West crown after wins over the Regina Cougars in the semifinal and Fraser Valley Cascades in the final. At the CIS Championship, Saskatchewan finished fourth. It was the sixth appearance in seven seasons for the Huskies at the national tournament.

The Huskies open the season on the road against rival the Alberta Pandas on October 31. Saskatchewan returns home November 14-15 to host the Winnipeg Wesmen.

Thompson Rivers University WolfPack
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 9th overall, 2nd in Explorers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals
2013-14 CW Record: 13-9
Last CIS Title: N/A
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Jorri Duxbury, Taiysa Worsfold, Kassie Colonna, Sarah Malate

Key additions: Michelle Bos, Emma Piggin

Key departures: Rae-Maryise Laljee

KAMLOOPS – The WolfPack qualified for the Canada West playoffs for the third straight season in 2013-14 and they are hoping to continue that streak this year.

Four time CIS Scholar Athlete Jorri Duxbury will again be the main offensive cog along with Taiysa Worsfold. Kassie Colonna emerged as a force under the basket as she returned to the court after a redshirt year.

The 2013-14 Canada West Rookie of the Year-Sydney Williams will be counted on more heavily and coach Scott Reeves has a number of talented players coming off bench to contribute. These players include guards Sarah Malate and Jenna Quinton along with forward Shenise Sigsworth.

Fresh faces this year include highly touted guard Michelle Bos of Surrey, BC.

University of Victoria Vikes
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 5th overall, 5th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: Lost in quarterfinals
2013-14 CW Record: 15-7
Last CIS Title: 2003
Last CW Title: 2000
Key returnees: Cassandra Goodis, Jessica Renfrew, Jenna Bugiardini, Shaylyn Crisp, Jenna Krug, Nicole Karstein

Key additions: Amira Giannattasio, Sherrie Errico, Amy Sprangers, Kristy Gallagher, Paige Thomson

Key departures: Jenny Lewis, Sarah Semeniuk, Allison Mulock

VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team are still on the hunt for their first CIS national championship appearance since 2005. With six players from last year’s squad not returning, including six-foot-three forward Sarah Semeniuk, guard Jenny Lewis and senior Allison Mulock, the Vikes will be poised to make a big entrance into the Canada West this year. Seven freshmen suit up for the Vikes but several of those players have already shown their capability to play like veterans.

Among the rookie class is guard Amira Giannattasio, who, despite her five-foot-five status, has logged critical pre-season minutes and shown her ability to defend and score from all over the floor. Giannattasio joins former high school teammate and forward Jenna Bugiardini. Bugiardini is easily the team’s consistent leading scorer and was a 2011-12 CIS All-Rookie team member and conference Rookie of the Year.

Point guard and fifth year Cassandra Goodis will return to command the floor. Last season Goodis led the Canada West in assists, averaging 5.4 per game, and the Vikes in steals, averaging 2.3 per game. Goodis and Renfrew are the lone seniors on the team and are expected to find their post-secondary peak this season. Guards Jenna Krug and Shaylyn Crisp will also be pivotal in the Vikes’ success this year, as the pair have both shown their ability to provide critical two-way play.

The Vikes have only two players over six-feet, Nicole Karstein and rookie Amy Sprangers both at six-foot-one, but where the team may lack in height, they make up for in speed and versatility.

Former Vike and CIS national champion, Dani Sinclair, enters her second season as head coach of the Vikes. Sinclair had six pre-season games in hopes of finding her winning combination of players on the court, while giving experience to her many newcomers. The Vikes finished with a 4-2 pre-season record. Joining Sinclair on the pine are assistant coaches Leanne Evans, a former UBC standout and two-time CIS national champion, as well as Brett Westcott, known for his long-time coaching commitments to Camosun College and island high school basketball.

The Vikes women went 4-2 in their 2014 pre-season campaign including wins over Guelph, Vancouver Island University and Western, while conceding losses to McMaster and Ryerson. The Vikes will open their Canada West season with a doubleheader against Regina at UVic’s McKinnon Gym on October 31 and November 1.

University of Winnipeg Wesmen
CW Preseason Coaches’ Poll Ranking: 6th overall, 6th in Pioneers Division
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Tournament Placing: N/A
2013-14 CW Record: 12-10
Last CIS Title: 1995
Last CW Title: N/A
Key returnees: Stephanie Kleysen, Megan Noonan, Kerri Kuzbyt, Taylor Thorkelsson, Skylar Boulanger, Brittania Brown

Key additions: Samantha Donald, Shawn Pallister, Katie Hastings Van, Paige Hastings Van, Jasmine Ibrahim, Payton Gomes

Key departures: Alyssa Grant, Danielle Baril

WINNIPEG – Head coach Tanya McKay, entering her 19th season with the Winnipeg Wesmen, has once again assembled a group of players with a variety of playing experience.

The team will led by fifth year guard and Canada West all-star Stephanie Kleysen. Kleysen had her best season in 2013-2014 averaging 16.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Third year guard Megan Noonan was second in team scoring with 16.4 points per game and is a constant threat from outside. Fellow third year guard Kerri Kuzbyt is another threat who can score from anywhere on the floor.

Up front third year forward Taylor Thorkelsson and second year post Skylar Boulanger are both capable of crashing the boards and providing inside scoring. Second year guard Brittania Brown will get minutes off the bench and will look to capitalize on expanded minutes this season.

Six new faces will join the team for the 2014-2015 season. Guard Samantha Donald, from Melbourne, Australia has made an immediate impact in preseason play, adding both a scoring and playmaking touch. Shawn Pallister, a 6-1 post, will provide added depth up front. Twin sisters Katie and Paige Hastings Van both have the size to make an impact at the forward positions. Jasmine Ibrahim, a 5-11 guard, will come off the bench along with 5-10 forward Payton Gomes, and both will look to capitalize on court time this season.

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