The winter and spring of 2019-2020 has produced a very busy class of new recruits for Laurentian Voyageurs women's basketball coach Jason Hurley - and one with an interesting theme or two that prevails.
After kicking things off with the imposing inside presence of local product Emilie Lafond (Lo-Ellen Prep - 6'3"), Hurley and company supplemented with no less than four guards: Maria Cordoba (5'2" - transfer from Bishop's), Monica Jean-Baptiste (5'3" - CEGEP Sain-Jean-Sur-Richelieu), Ashley Mauhay (5'4" - Loyola Catholic SS - Mississauga) and Princess Bernardino (5'3" - Brampton Warriors).
"I think this class is sort of unique in the sense that it identified something that we needed to improve upon, and sort of had to adjust a little bit to in our league," said Hurley. "We needed to combat some of the small, quick point guards in our league."
"I thought our foot speed at guarding the two guard and the quick point guard wasn't great this year."
And on the heels of the OUA Rookie of the Season performance from Helena Lamoureux (CEGEP du Vieux Montreal) in 2019-2020, Laurentian would go back to the well in La Belle Province, with both Cordoba and Jean-Baptiste joining the L.U. roster with a couple of more years under their belts than the traditional Ontario university freshman.
"It was a conscious decision to go into that market," acknowledged Hurley. "Perhaps the only thing that would have tapped it more would have been if we had won more games with Helena," he added, noting that current players and Voyageur alumni are almost among the best recruiters for the program.
Part of the reason that Hurley was able to focus largely on point guards was due to the fact that his team will not be lacking in size in the fall, a rare statement indeed in these parts. Lafond will make it an even half-dozen athletes who top the charts beyond the six foot mark, joining Bailey Tabin (4th year), Sydney Tabin (3rd year - transfer from Mount Royal University), Zoe Hutchins (3rd year), Rileigh Smith (2nd) and Gabbie Schaffner (2nd).
"Even our next wave - Helena Lamoureux (5'10'), Arielle Douillette (5'8"), Sidney Crawford (5'6') - have some height, especially compared to what we've had in the past," said Hurley.
When the dust settles, he is left with some options with regards to how best exploit the strengths of his team. "You look at the trends, what the Raptors were able to accomplish while playing Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry at the same time, two sort of combo guards, with three others being a mix of small forwards, power forwards," said Hurley.
"I think in the youth basketball systems right now, we are developing more combo guards than pure point guards, someone who looks to score more than just come down and run the offense."
Rounding out the list of 14 that Hurley believes will open with Laurentian in the fall is Maria La Rosa, preparing to enter her third year with the team. While both Kayla Deschatelets and Danielle Reid are eligible to return for one more year, injury concerns would suggest that this is unlikely, at least at the moment.
Of course, unanswered questions are the name of the game these days in OUA circles. "There is definite excitement, but there's just so many moving parts," suggested Hurley. "At some point, we will get back on the court."
"Whatever happens, I know that we will have a nice group."