|Sting player drives to the net versus the Durham Lords.|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By: Michael Katz, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
What a start to the year for Seneca’s Varsity Women’s basketball team. They began the 2011-2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) campaign with what was likely their toughest match-up all season, squaring off on the road in Ottawa at Algonquin College against the defending champions. In a spirited affair, the Sting used an impressive balanced attack to squeak-out a surprising 61-59 victory. This was the Sting’s first victory at Algonquin College in two seasons.
Sting Head Coach Craig Walker said, “it was an extremely exciting win against Algonquin and a huge bonus winning on the road. It should put us in a good spot for the playoffs.”
Those are pretty confident words spoken by a head coach only three games into a new season. However, thus far his team has done nothing to make him question that confidence. The Sting are 3-0 after two impressive home wins against Centennial and Durham last week.
Coach Walker prides himself on the fact that his teams emphasize the defensive aspects of the game.
“The focus of the team at practice is defense, it’s our bread and butter.”
The message seems to be coming across loud and clear, as the Sting have not surrendered more than 59 points in a game so far this season. Furthermore, it seems to be a message that has been instilled in all of his players.
First-year guard, Tara Minicuci (Veterinary Technician) reinforced the coach’s philosophy, “sticking to our game plan defensively is the key for us to win games.”
Paige Smith (Business Administration – H.R.), another rookie on the squad, preached the same message saying, “the team’s identity comes through our defense.”
In addition to the team’s phenomenal defensive play, both players gave full marks to their captain Tamara Nembhard for her outstanding performances over the early parts of the season.
Minicuci says, “Tamara is playing really well. She does a phenomenal job encouraging everyone throughout the games.”
Smith added “she has such a great attitude, which keeps everyone pumped up.”
While speaking with Nembhard (Early Childhood Education) about the team’s early season success, it was apparent that she could not have been more thrilled - particularly with its opening game victory. Now in her third season with The Sting, Nembhard’s teams had yet to defeat Algonquin at home, and the captain was still raving about the match even as it rested in her rearview mirror.
Nembhard said “I’m so happy about the win, it means so much to me. I love my team for it.”
After reaching the OCAA bronze medal last year, Nembhard is motivated to improve on last season’s results. She believes that if the team remains committed to becoming more of a unit on defense they will continue to have success in the Win-column.
The third-year player seems to be exactly what Coach Walker wants out of a captain: A determined athlete who believes in the philosophies being implemented by the coach and executes accordingly.
Walker, a coach at Seneca in his 12th season, said “Tamara is a tremendous leader who has grown so much and become such a reliable player for us. As she goes, we go.”
That’s some high praise being directed towards the team captain - but it doesn’t seem to faze her.
As Tamara said, “all I’m concerned about is going out and being a team player.”
This is particularly clear through her very obvious lead-by-example philosophy.
“Defense wins games, and a good defense will allow us to reward ourselves on offense,” added Nembhard.
And that’s great news for Walker and the Sting, who seem to be on the same page early. They were most recently ranked first overall in the OCAA Power Rankings. The Sting aim to continue their early season success in hopes of appearing in the gold medal match of the OCAA Championship in the near future.
The Sting Women’s Basketball team play their next three games at Newnham Campus Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre). Come out and cheer on the club vs. St. Lawrence on November 18th at 6 PM, vs. Loyalist on November 19th at 1 PM and vs. Fleming on November 22nd at 6 PM.
Meanwhile, the Men’s Basketball team started the season off and running with a road victory of their own against La Cité. Head coach Wayne Dawkins sees some real promise with his young squad, who are trying to get back on the OCAA podium for the first time in 20 years.
Dawkins said, “I love our willingness to scrap and get on the floor.”
The fifth year head coach believes the physical edge will be a key component to the team’s success throughout the season. In the meantime, the team is suffering through some early season growing pains while featuring several rookies on the roster. After back-to-back losses to Algonquin and Centennial, he believes there is plenty of room for improvement.
“The team is going through growing pains and it will take sometime to put all the parts together,” said the Sting coach.
However, he remains quite confident in the squad’s overall abilities.
He said “there are plenty of positives to build on, and an [OCAA] medal is never out of reach.”
The Sting will get a big boost in the second half of the season, as several key players will be returning to the squad. The head coach believes the fusion of experienced players with the current roster will result in an exciting second half. He also had a few words for Seneca students who are looking for something to do in their spare time:
“The sixth man is one of the biggest memories one can create and have during their college experience.” He was adamant in expressing his desire for more Senecans to make their way out to come and support the club.”
With the team slowly finding its footing and more experienced players on the way, Dawkins is fired-up.
“It will be a whole new ball game come next semester.”
Alert to fellow Senecans: Get your popcorn ready, and come out and cheer on the squad!
The Sting Men’s Basketball team plays their next three games at Newnham Campus Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre). Come out and support the club vs. St. Lawrence on November 18th at 8 PM, vs. Loyalist on November 19th at 3 PM and vs. Fleming on November 22nd at 8 PM.