Posted in Sports

Big things expected from women’s basketball

The team is looking to improve after reaching the GNAC semifinals

Elisa Homer is expected to be a key contributor for the team this season.
Elisa Homer is expected to be a key contributor for the team this season.
Image Credits: Lisa Dimyadi

The 2015–16 season did not start in the most idyllic way for the Clan. One of SFU’s forwards, Meg Wilson, was forced to take a medical redshirt after only two games. The team also went through an injury crisis, ending up with only six healthy players.

However, the team defied all expectations and changed the narrative in its favour. The Clan ended up with a 13–7 conference record and even made it to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinals. Simon Fraser took fourth place in the GNAC.

“I think we had success, but we would like to have more success,” said head coach Bruce Langford. “Last year was a little bit of a slippage in terms of where we really would like to get to.”

Not only did SFU women’s basketball find its way to the semifinals five years after switching to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, it has arguably been one of the most prosperous teams at SFU. “We were supposed to be a two-year transition from the CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport],” observed Langford. “We ended up losing six kids, but we recovered from that nicely. We had a really nice run where we made the nationals the first year we were eligible and made the nationals a couple years in a row.”

The team will now be able to rely on a good calibre of players, as coach Langford explained. “We recruited five high school kids and we have one transfer. I would say that our youth is the best we’ve had in the last 10 years. The kids are multi-skilled in different ways. Two of them are better defenders, which should help us defensively.”

The Clan has set the bar high once again. Coach Langford is “not only looking for the winning record,” but has also established an intense non-conference schedule and made it challenging to physically and mentally brace the girls for NCAA rhythm. The first part of the preseason will consist of three games in three days. The girls will be facing California Baptist University, Augustana University, and Colorado School of Mines in the Disney Tip-off Classic on  November 4–6.

Coach Langford will be able to rely on more than his main three-pointers this season. SFU welcomed talented recruits and added to its frontcourt transfer Tayla Jackson, who played all 31 games last season for NCAA Division I UC Irvine. Jackson will be joined on the court by 2014–15 All-GNAC Honourable Mention Meg Wilson — who “has been such a good example of leadership in games as she has come off from injury” — as well as the team’s leading scorer Elisa Homer, and Ellen Kett who was top five in the NCAA in assists.

While the Clan seemed to be fairly dominant offensively on the court throughout last season, coach Langford reflected on the changes that need to be made for the upcoming season.

“We have been young every year since we have been in the NCAA. I don’t think we are consistent enough. I don’t think we rebuilt well enough. Those are two areas we really need to improve on.

“Last year we weren’t deep in certain positions. Some players were careful on the court about getting fouls and not being too physical. We have addressed those issues with our new recruits.”

The quest for the GNAC Championships starts on December 1 against Alaska Anchorage on the road.