The last time the Badgers women’s basketball team played a game was on March 8, 2020, just five days before Brock – and the rest of the world, apparently – was shut down due to COVID. -19. That last game was the 2020 U Sports National Championship game, where the Badgers ultimately fell to the Saskatchewan Huskies, but ended what was arguably the best season in program history.
Today, more than 18 months later, the Badgers still hold the reigning OUA champions and reigning national silver medal titles. The team, of course, is a lot different than it was two years ago. Of the “four cores” that took the 2019-2020 team to unprecedented heights, only Sam Keltos remains. Melissa Tatti, Kristin Gallant and Jessica Morris have all since graduated, while Keltos is in her final year of eligibility.
With Tatti leaving, the offense should revolve around Keltos. She is arguably the Badgers’ best player and will be looking to build a formidable 2019-20 season that will include a selection of OUA All-Star in addition to team gear. At 6’3, she can use her height and inner touch to finish on smaller defenders, but also just finished a year where she shot over 40% in three. Defensively, she is one of the best shot blockers in the country; its presence around the rim is enough on its own to alter shots and turn potential layups into awkward floats.
Head Coach Mike Rao, who was named OUA & U Sports Coach of the Year in 2019-2020, certainly has no shortage of options to complete Keltos and replace the three starters who lost a season ago. Rao and his squad have brought in a class of new signings, both transfers and rookies, while a number of returning players who had limited roles last season are expected to step forward this year.
Transfers include Mackenzie Robinson, who, after four successful years at Laurentian, is playing his final OUA season here at Brock. Victoria Lawrence, who was named to the OCAA All-Star Team for George Brown in 2019-2020, and Ivana Twumasi, who last performed for OCAA Humber College, will all play roles. important throughout the season. Jenneke Pilling and Meagan Charbonneau are likely to see more minutes than a year ago, while rookies Madalyn Weinert, Olivia Fiorucci and Ilijana Vukovic have already gotten a bit of pre-season from the start.
The Badgers went 2-2 in their first four exhibition games, although the two losses, one to Ryerson and one to Carleton, were only one point, while the two wins were more of 20. Rao used the depth he gained to get a good look at his roster ahead of the season opener on November 3.
“We wanted to see who’s playing with some confidence, who’s on the boards, who’s playing well defensively, who’s playing well offensively, I think I’m just looking for parts, that’s all,” said Rao. “We were just going to try to attract as many people as possible, keep rotating some players and see what it brings.”
Despite some promising signs in the preseason, there are still areas where Rao says the team needs to improve.
“We need more shooters, we need better defenders and we need better ball managers,” said Rao. “This is my goal for the future, to seek to achieve these goals. I think with those things there is a little bit of success, a little bit of continuity, and better team play. “
While opening night rotations are yet to be defined, Rao says he will use the remaining preseason games to see as many players as possible and then work out a game plan before November 3.
“That’s what the preseason is for,” he said. “I’m going to do rotations this week, but I have an idea [of them]. I think we can play nine or 10 players, I think we can play them anytime, I just have to put them in the right position. I think that will say it; can I put them in situations where they can be successful? “
Provided students are fully vaccinated and completed Brock’s same-day COVID-19 self-testing, tickets for the season / home opener on November 3 and all other future Home games are free for Brock students. The women’s team will kick off at 6:00 p.m. before the men’s team kick-off at 8:00 p.m.
According to Brock Sports policy, students must enter through the Art and Val Fleming Commons gates and check in at the top of the ramp just outside of Hungry Badger (the same ramp you take when taking exams at Beddis ). To book tickets for Wednesday’s home opener, click here. For detailed instructions on how to book tickets, click here.