The hosts of the Accreon CIS Women’s Basketball Final 8, your UNB Varsity Reds, will look to begin their bid for an AUS title as their regular season opens Nov. 6 at Dalhousie.
UNB saw their pre-season get off to a perfect start this year as they swept all three games they played in the Accreon Helen Campbell tournament but knows there is still room to improve.
“There’s some really good things that happened,” said head coach Jeff Speedy. “As a coach you kind of make a list of the things you want to work on and certain things that you like.”
The women will continue their pre-season as they travel to Ontario to play Toronto, Waterloo, Western and Windsor.
Speedy pointed out several areas the women will look to improve on their pre-season road trip.
“Our rebounding on both ends of the court, it was really good at times but also let us down way too often, we want that to be one of our strengths.”
“This time of year, everyone is challenged with their offensive execution, were no different. We want to try and do a better job of reading the defense and running the things that were trying to run offensively to produce some easy shots,” said Speedy.
The women have had to deal with their share of injuries the past two seasons and will be without two key fourth year players Chelsey Collette and Katelyn Mangold for at least the first half of the season.
“It’s literally day-by-day, week-to-week at the moment,” said Speedy on the injuries. “I’d be shocked if either one of them plays first semester. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that their rehab goes well.
UNB’s 3-0 preseason record suggests that some of the younger athletes on the team gained valuable experience from being thrusted into elevated roles last year when the team became decimated by injuries.
“We’re relying on some second and third year kids to play a ton of minutes and they’re playing very good basketball,” said Speedy.
Standout performances from the women so far include a 25 point game from third year guard Grace Wade in their win versus Lethbridge and three straight ten plus rebound games including two double-doubles from fifth year forward Rachel Cleary.
The V-Reds are hosting the biggest tournament of the year, the CIS Championships, and thus receive an automatic entry; however, they are preparing for this season like they would any other.
”It hasn’t really changed what we’re thinking or how we’re going about our business,” said Speedy.
“Getting to play in Nationals is going to be sweet and hosting is going to be fantastic, but the way I’m looking at it is, it’s kind of the icing on the cake for having a good AUS season and a good AUS playoff experience.”
The women come into this season as a bit of a dark horse but will look to play spoiler for AUS powerhouse, the Saint Mary’s Huskies.