Veteran L.U. crew targetting playoff berth
by Randy Pascal
With a solid core of veterans clearly showing the way, a return to post-season play is not the least bit out of question for the Laurentian
Voyageurs women's basketball team this year.
If nothing else, they enter the second half of the 2018-2019 campaign with their fate sitting directly in their hands.
Thirteen games remain on the schedule, all opposite rivals in the OUA East, including a critical home and home set with the University of
Toronto Blues, a team that shares both the sixth and final playoff spot in the division, as well as an identical halfway mark record of 3-7.
As is his norm, coach Jason Hurley is cautiously optimistic. "I like that we are adjusting to a different style that is a little more motion
based," noted the Walkerton native, earlier this year.
"We played a tough pre-season, where we played some pretty good competition, some top ten teams. Everyone seems to be working hard, getting to the point
of competing every day, trying to play as a unit every day."
"We should be alright this year because, on paper, we have a 5th year kid, a bunch of fourth year kids, a second year kid that should be making a step.
Any team that doesn't have a monster, a 6'3" inside presence, we can play with. Unfortunately, we're not that deep."
Perhaps most satisfying has been the pinnacle of progress that has been reached by 5th year guard Emily Tinnes, who heads into the Christmas
break leading the Voyageurs in scoring, averaging 17.1 points per game.
"We're considered a veteran team and we should be able to help the younger players, show them what varsity basketball is all about, and hopefully they
can carry that on once we leave," noted the 23 year old graduate of Sport and Physical Education, now majoring in Communications.
With trips to the playoffs more miss than hit for Tinnes and her core teammates, the Newmarket resident is anxious to finish her university career on a
positive note. "I'm having a lot of fun," she acknowledged. "When you're having fun, that's kind of when you play well."
"I am really, really invested in my basketball this year. I am trying to live in the moment and make the best of it. Basketball is a huge focus for me
this year." Thankfully, from a team standpoint, there are some key first half takeaways to build upon.
"We're proving that we can stay with the tough teams. We know that we can compete with those teams, so now it's a matter of putting four quarters
together." Joining Tinnes in tackling the leadership role are 4th year Voyageurs Andrea Zulich and Mackenzie Robinson, both averaging more
than thirty minutes a game, along with Georgetown guard Emily Fisher.
The future, to which Tinnes alluded, is likely to be built around Timmins guard Kayla Deschatelets, sitting second in scoring on the team in
scoring (14.8 ppg) in her third year at L.U., as well as western Canadian import Bailey Tabin.
"I knew that I wanted to do Forensics and it took a lot of researching," noted the native of Saskatoon. "It was either Ontario or B.C. for
Forensics, and then I wanted to look at the basketball programs. I had never even been in Ontario before," added the OUA sophomore.
Standing 6'1", Tabin is one of the few exceptions on a team that suits up only two players (rookie Zoe Hutchins is the other) listed above 5'9"
on the Laurentian Varsity Athletics website.
"In Saskatchewan, we had a lot more taller players," said Tabin, who played through much of her youth alongside her twin sister, Sydney, now a member
of the Mount Royal University Cougars in Calgary.
"Here, I am the tallest on the team. Other teams have height on us, but we're a pretty quick team. We have to be, because we're smaller. I think I am
quicker, more agile, than some of my opponents. I have to body them first, box them out. It's a lot of aggressive stuff, but I don't mind the bumping."
Tabin is slowly beginning to establish her inside presence, recording 6.4 rebounds per game, second on the team only to Mackenzie Robinson (7.7). Like
Hurley, she believes that there are ways to compensate for what might be a slight physical mismatch.
"We are motion based, so there is a lot more movement," she said. "It's really about playing with a high basketball IQ. We do have plays, but there are
many options off the plays. It's the same with other teams, but sometimes, they are more strict with their options. We are able to read and move and include
motion in that."
The Voyageurs resume play in early January with four straight home games, hosting the Queen's Gaels and York Lions on the 4th/5th, and the
Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee Gees the very next weekend.
Certainly, the circled encounters include a road trip to Toronto on January 19th to face the Blues, as well as the rematch in Sudbury on February 8th.