Lady Timberwolves dealing with a small roster

UNBC Timberwolves fourth-year guard/forward Mercedes Van Koughnett dribbles the ball up the floor against the Trinity Western Spartans during their Canada West women’s basketball game on Friday evening at the Northern Sport Centre. - Alistair McINNIS/Free Press
UNBC Timberwolves fourth-year guard/forward Mercedes Van Koughnett dribbles the ball up the floor against the Trinity Western Spartans during their Canada West women’s basketball game on Friday evening at the Northern Sport Centre.
— image credit: Alistair McINNIS/Free Press

Loralyn Murdoch knows health will play a major role in how her team fares in its inaugural Canada West season.

The UNBC women’s basketball head coach is guiding a squad with only 10 players, making this season’s edition of the Timberwolves one of the smallest in its history.

So far, so good. On Tuesday, Murdoch reported her team’s health at close to 100 per cent. No injury pushing a player out of the lineup, just the usual bumps and bruises.

“We have to stay healthy, we have to really monitor our injuries and make sure that people are getting the rest they need,” Murdoch says. “We’ve got excellent physio and athletic trainers so we just got to keep everybody as as healthy as we can.”

That list includes fifth-year forward Kady Dandeneau, whose efforts in recovering from a left knee injury have been well documented. Although the injury occurred during a regular-season home game in January 2010, it resulted in a few surgeries and left Dandeneau on the shelf for the end of the 2009-10 season and entire 2010-11 campaign.

Since Dandeneau didn’t sign with the team in the 2010-11 season, she could recover without losing a year of eligibility. A product of Pender Island, she joined the program in 2007. As a fifth year, she will complete her final basketball season in February.

“As a veteran player, she’s going to come in and do what she can and we’ll take whatever she can give us,” Murdoch says.

Dandeneau helped the Timberwolves pick up a pair of wins over the Trinity Western Spartans in their home-opening doubleheader on the weekend. She recorded 17 points in 20 minutes of playing time on Friday, a 74-67 triumph. They followed that game with a 62-54 victory on Saturday.

The two wins improved UNBC’s record to 2-2, the team opening its schedule with a pair of losses at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. Trinity Western dropped to 0-4.

In addition to monitoring the health of her short roster, Murdoch has also faced the challenge of connecting newcomers with veterans. The lineup includes five players who didn’t play on the 2011-12 team, including three rookies: Allison Seinen, Lauren Lamont and Jasprit Nijjar.

Counted on to help familiarize the new students with UNBC are Dandeneau and the four other returnees: fourth-year players Mercedes Van Koughnett, Jennifer Bruce and Emily Kaehn, as well as third-year Sarah Robin.

“It’s taken a little bit to get everybody up to speed and it’s going to be a constant challenge for probably the entire year,” Murdoch says.

Playing like a veteran leader, Bruce led UNBC offensively in Saturday’s victory with a game-high 26 points.

“She shot the ball extremely well and we really needed that to happen so no complaint,” Murdoch says.

Third-year players Jordyn Rabbit and Kellie Fluit, in their first year at UNBC, round out the 10-team roster.

The teammates will try and improve to 4-2 this weekend. The Timberwolves host the UBC Okanagan Heat tonight and Saturday (6 p.m. at the Northern Sport Centre).

UBC Okanagan carries a 1-3 record into the two-game set and, like UNBC, will be trying to move up the eight-team Pacific Division standings.

“We’ve watched tape on them. They’re similar to the team that we played against back in the college ranks,” Murdoch says. “It’s the same coach and some of the same players, so they’re very athletic. They like to run. They’re going to be tough games. I think we match up decently and I think we should really compete.”


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