Wolves Rookie Shows She's Got Game at the College Level
November 17, 2006
By JEFF KORENKO
Laura Dunsdon's acclimation to college basketball so far this season has been a relatively smooth one.
So much so, that GPRC Wolves women's hoops coach Mark Catling believes the Prince George product, out of Kelly Road secondary school, is already leaps and bounds ahead of where he expected her to be at this point.
Through the eight games heading into a crucial double-dip at home against the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference-leading Grant MacEwan Griffins this weekend, the five-foot-10 forward has averaged 10.88 points and 6.75 rebounds per game, helping the Wolves to an impressive 6-2 start.
While most players fresh out of high school, as Dunsdon is, have the physical attributes and natural ability to make the jump to the college level, they often struggle with the mental side of things, said Catling.
That hasn't been the case with Dunsdon. Coming into her first ACAC season, she accepted she would be going up against bigger, stronger, and most importantly more experienced, players.
Her answer to combating that is having the immediate impact Catling was hoping for when he began scouting her two years ago: Outwork your opponent.
"You just have to play harder; give it your 110 (per cent) each time out. Playing against more experienced players means you just have to show more heart than them," Dunsdon said Thursday night, as she and her teammates practised for the final time in preparation to host the Griffins tonight and Saturday afternoon. "The college game is so much more fast-paced. It's been hard getting used to that, but I love it. Fitness is so important, but I have just been focusing on trying my best every time I am out on the court.
"It definitely is a different game. You have to stay positive. The team definitely helps with that. They are such a positive bunch. They help you stay focused."
It's that type of never-say-die attitude that has had Catling beaming over Dunsdon's contributions.
"We wanted a player who could come in and contribute right away. She has all the tools physically. Some girls that come in right out of high school can have all the physical attributes and ability, but they sometimes lack the mental toughness in making the transition," said Catling.
"That hasn't been the case with Laura at all. She has been outstanding for us. She is probably far ahead of where I thought she would be at this time, for a rookie."
Dunsdon's points-per-game average so far is second on the team only to that of Jen Seemann's and, as the season has progressed, she is finding herself in more crucial situations.
That is likely to continue this weekend, as Grande Prairie will look to shut down the conference's second-highest scoring team in the Griffins, who enter this weekend's games first in the North Division at 9-1.
Staying focused throughout the two games will be what the Wolves - who are tied for second in the division with the King's University College Eagles - will strive for, as they have shown a tendency to play down to the level of their opponent at times this season, Catling said.
That obviously can't happen against the conference's best team.
"This is going to be a huge test for us. They are a very strong team, very deep, but I really like our chances this weekend, playing them at home. Our team has been outstanding so far this year at rising to the challenge. At times, we have played down to teams and not finished teams off like we should have," said Catling.
The Wolves will have to be sound defensively on all areas of the floor, as the Griffins boast the most well-rounded attack in the division.
In averaging 77 points per game, the Griffins - led by Leanne Theuss's 8.8 PPG - have eight players averaging six or more points a contest.
"They don't have that one player who can come out and really hurt you. They are balanced at all positions and so deep, with a lot of returning players from a team that was very good last year," said Catling.
The Griffins only loss to date came when they were felled 71-66 by King's two weekends ago.
Grande Prairie is 2-0 at home this season.