There are several reasons to expect the Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s basketball squad will perform a little better than a .500 team this Atlantic University Sport season, according to coach Doug Partridge.
“We’re are more athletic and a little deeper in terms of talent,” said Partridge. “We play good inside-out basketball and we are much improved defensively.”
Memorial, which finished in fourth place last season on a 10-10 record, opens its new season on the road this weekend with a pair of four-point games against Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax. The Huskies were third last season, four points ahead of the Sea-Hawks.
The Lady Hawks return the team’s top scorer and AUS first-team all-star Ally Forsey and strong three-point shooter Kim Devison along with guard Megan Robinson, who made the conference all-rookie team.
The Sea-Hawks also anticipate a healthy captain Grace Fishbein this season. Fishbein, along with Forsey and Devison, is in her fifth year.
The MUN coach lists the team’s strengths as bench play, depth of talent, post play and good shooting.
The weaknesses heading into the season: Lack of consistent rebounding and the dreaded turnovers.
In terms of the rookie crop this year, Partridge is “really happy” with Sandra Amoah, “who has been very good for us.”
There is a roster setback.
Ottawa’s Carolyn Adams, whose mom and dad went to Memorial, has been out with post-concussion syndrome.
“This is a blow as I feel she had something to add as a pure point guard,” noted Partridge.
Partridge also knew rookies Katherine Vanden Elzen and Nancy Hernandez Basurto would need work before contributing.
Asked to describe the competitiveness of the AUS conference this season, Partridge was to the point: “Very tough. It’s a very deep and talented league. Every game will be a battle.”
So just how competitive will the Lady Hawks, who have been knocked out of the quarter-finals last year and the semifinals three years in a row previous to that, be this time around?
“We have the depth and talent to play in the upper half of the league,”’ said Partridge.
“If our ball control improves over the course of the season, I think we could definitely be in contention at the end of the year.”
Opening on the road isn’t a bad thing according to Partridge.
“My old coach always said start on the road. That way, if you’re no good, it won't hurt the first home crowd and you have a chance to get some kinks out.”
Meanwhile, the team’s identity is a work in progress, according to Partridge.
He did say, “For the first time in about four years, we can guard and I’m very happy about that because it will be the backbone of our team.
“We’re not quite sure what we are offensively yet with Ally and Grace working through ankle injuries,” he said.
The Sea-Hawks’ first home games are scheduled for Nov. 10,11 against long-time rivals Cape Breton Capers.
Partridge’s help on the sidelines this year will come from Caitlin Sparks.
Sparks, who played at Carleton University is the new assistant coach. Her dad, Andy Sparks, is the current head coach of the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team at Ottawa University
PARTRIDGE’E PARTRIDGE’S TAKE
A look at the Sea-Hawks’ full roster with coach Doug Partridge’s comments:
Amanda Martret, 5-5, Guard, St. John’s
Entering her third year, Amanda has worked very hard on her game and body and seems poised to grab a bigger role this year. A solid attacking point guard with good instincts. A strong on-the-ball defender as well.
Samantha Kavanagh,5-6, Guard, Calvert
Returning for her fourth year, Sam is in the best shape of her career. An outstanding shooter, Sam led the team last year with a 57 per cent three-point percentage. She is a solid defender and can play both guard spots.
Kim Devison, 5-10, Guard, Waterloo, Ont.
Kim has shot better than 40 per cent from three-point range each of the last two years. She is entering her fifth and final year and will be a force. she has an improved off the dribble game and should provide a consistent offensive threat.
Grace Fishbein, 5-11, Wing, Waterloo, Ont.
Finally healthy, this fifth year captain is ready to show her full arsenal this year. She can score in a variety of ways and is a solid defender and rebounder who will provide the key leadership as the Sea-Hawks attack in the AUS this season.
Ally Forsey, 6-2, post, St. John’s
After a first-team AUS all-star nod last year, Ally returns in her best shape yet and looks to build on her career year last season. The main low-post threat, she combines excellent rebounding with accurate scoring from a variety of post moves, making her the top returning post in the AUS. In her final year of eligibility fans should expect more of the same.
Megan Robinson, 5-5, Guard, Waterloo, Ont.
Megan’s coming off a solid rookie campaign in which she was a starter all season. She returns prepared for Year 2. She is a solid shooter and a crafty off the dribble player. She looks to improve her pure point skills and show a steady hand running the team this year.
Rebecca Amo Mensah, 5-4, Guard, Toronto, Ont.
After gaining some experience last year, Becky returns this year physically prepared and with improved skills. An outstanding athlete, she is prepared this season to unleash her potential and wow fans with her passing and ball-handling skills as well as her defensive impact.
Emily Jameson, 5-10, Guard, St. John’s
Emily has worked hard this off season to improve her scoring skills and has been flashing a consistent outside shot and improved left hand. An already solid defender, Emily looks to emerge in her fourth season as not just a player who plays minutes, but a player who impacts games in a variety of ways.
Kelia Pond: 5-9, Wing, Goulds
After a couple seasons of finding her way, Kelia spent this off season renewing her dedication to basketball and working unbelievably hard. In fantastic shape with a consistent outside shot and more explosive off the dribble game she will be looking to punish defenses this year and emerge as the impact player we have been waiting for.
Sandra Amoah, 5-9, Guard, Toronto, Ont.
The best of this year’s rookie crop, Sandra is an explosive rookie who can impact the game in a number of ways. A tough defender, outstanding rebounder and improving offensive player, Sandra is sure to impress the local fans with her effort and determination.
Marika Vanden Elzen, 5-10, Post, Mount Brydges, Ont.
Marika returns for her second season as a tough post defender and rebounder. She will be looking to be more consistent of offense and show a more efficient game around the basket.
Katherine Vanden Elzen, 5-11, Forward, Mount Brydges, Ont.
Katherine joins her older sister at Memorial. A tall wing she has a solid outside shot and is a good help side defender. She will be working to improve her strength and lateral mobility this year.
Carolyn Adams, 5-6, Guard, Ottawa , Ont.
This rookie from Ottawa is a pure point guard who has great poise and control. She makes good decisions with the basketball and is a capable finisher and shooter. Carolyn was forced to miss last season with shoulder surgery, but once she shakes off the rust she has a promising future with the team.
Nancy Hernandez Basurto, 5-8, Forward, Almonte, Ont.
A graduate student at Memorial, Nancy’s university career was almost derailed by two knee injuries. Given a second chance to play at an elite level, she is hoping to make the most of her situation at MUN. In a season of high hopes, she helps bring a maturity and stability to what is happening with the ’Hawks.
MUN’s 2012-13 AUS SCHEDULE
Today, Memorial at SMU
Sunday, Memorial at SMU
Nov. 10, CBU at Memorial
Nov. 11, CBU at Memorial
Nov. 17, Memorial at Acadia
Nov. 18, Memorial at Acadia
Nov. 24, UNB at Memorial
Nov. 25, UNB at Memorial
Jan. 12, Memorial at CBU
Jan. 13, Memorial at CBU
Jan. 19, Dal at Memorial
Jan. 20, Dal at Memorial
Jan. 26, Memorial at St. FX
Jan. 27, Memorial at St. FX
Feb. 2, Acadia at MUN
Feb. 3, Acadia at MUN
Feb. 16, Memorial at UNB
Feb. 17, Memorial at UNB
Feb. 22, UPEI at Memorial