Although the UNB Varsity Reds women’s basketball team’s season ended in defeat, the 2014-15 campaign was nonetheless one to remember for head coach Jeff Speedy and his squad.
“I thought our program took some definite steps forward after a very tough season in 2013-14,” said coach Speedy. “We won some tough games on the road against Acadia, StFX, Cape Breton and beat a top 10 team in an exhibition game.”
The team finished with an 8-12 record in conference play, which was good for sixth place in the Atlantic University Sport standings, securing them the final berth at the conference championship tournament a few weeks ago. This was a distinct change from the previous year, in which the women’s team won only five games throughout the season and did not qualify for the playoffs.
“Our main challenge this year was dealing with injuries,” explained Speedy. “We lost a starter for the season in October, two other key players to season ending knee injuries in January and two other key players for six weeks each due to severe ankle injuries.”
UNB’s season came to a close with a 65-45 loss to the UPEI Panthers in the AUS quarterfinals on Feb. 26. While their season may not have ended as they had hoped, Speedy believes that the team developed tremendously over the course of the season.
“Back in September I thought we were a top four team that could have competed for a league title. We were very close to doing so and I think we could have without our injuries.”
All season long, the team had aspired to make it to the playoffs, and Speedy was proud of the effort put forth by his team against a tough UPEI squad.
“It was nice to make the playoffs this season, especially with the games being in the Scotiabank Centre for the first time,” said Speedy. “That was an exciting atmosphere to play in, even though we only got to play one game.
“I do think we played well in our playoff game vs. UPEI. They are a very physical team and we didn’t back down from them for the entire first half. They beat us four times this season so they deserved the victory.”
Although the team has struggled over the past few seasons, Speedy is hopeful for the future.
“We started one first-year player and two second-year players, so I’m very excited to watch them develop,” he said. “Second-year player Grace Wade was voted a second team AUS all-star, second-year player Laura Kaye was very close to being an all-star and first-year player Nicole Lafleur made the AUS all-rookie team. I expect all three of these players to have huge years next season.”
Speedy also acknowledged the inspiring performance of the team’s sole graduating player, Colleen Daly.
“She was a very important player for us for four years, and has been an unreal teammate. We will miss her big time.”
The Varsity Reds are slated to host the 2015-16 CIS Women’s Basketball Championship tournament. Coach Speedy had no qualms in expressing his vision for the team’s upcoming season.
“Our goal is to win an AUS Championship and not need to rely on the host berth to get to nationals.”