Definite rebound Women beat ACAC opponents in pre-season hoops tourney
So much for baby steps into the exhibition season for the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women's basketball team.
The Wolves went south last weekend for a preseason tournament in Red Deer, Camrose and Sylvan Lake.
Their first opponent? None other than the University of Calgary Dinos to kick things off Thursday night in Sylvan Lake.
The Wolves shook off a 106-49 drubbing at the hands of the Dinos to win their next two games.
They beat the Grant MacEwan Griffins 76-65 Friday and followed that up with a 96-47 crowning of the Red Deer College Queens to wrap up the weekend at 2-1.
"It was a definite eye-opener for the girls, but a very good experience," said Wolves head coach Kim Gravengard of the team's tournament-opener against the high-powered Dinos. "Their coach played hardball and the girls had to jump up to the plate and they did well adapting. But it showed them what we need to do to keep pushing at the best of our game."
With everybody getting playing time in Friday's game against MacEwan at Augustana University College in Camrose, the buckets came and ultimately so did the win as the Wolves posted an 11-point margin.
"We played all 13 players and rotated the bench well," said Gravengard. "We made sure everybody got the opportunity to play. Doing that shortens people's minutes a little bit but the girls saw we were capable of using everybody that we have."
While every member of the Wolves found the bucket for at least a pair of points, fourth-year veteran Jenn Seemann led the way with 21 points in the winning cause.
The Wolves went seven-for-nine at the three-point line, including going five-for-five in the second half.
From Camrose, the Wolves headed south to Red Deer Saturday for their final game of the weekend.
Despite a slow start in the morning match, the Wolves began firing at a more consistent clip in the second half, eventually rolling to a 96-47 victory.
"In the first two minutes of the third quarter we scored 16 points. We scored 40 points in the third quarter alone," said Gravengard, adding her team scored 38 points in the first half before the third-quarter outburst.
It was the team's defensive performance that had Gravengard and her coaching staff smiling, a facet of their game the rookie head coach plans to stress to her players.
"Melissa Bueller probably had one of her best defensive games ever and so did Jenn," said Gravengard. "They've always been good players, but more on the offensive end. This year we're pushing a bit more that we've got to be just as good on defence as on offence and it showed in that game. The girls pushed it up and went for the ball and everybody scored in that game. We learned to get right in their face, denying passes and picking off the ball. When we did play that defensive game, those fast breaks came no problem."
Though pleased with the 2-1 record on the road in three different gymnasiums, the key for Gravengard was to see as many of her players in as many different situations as possible. "We're just trying to learn where the girls are going to fit in and how well and they're going to be capable of adapting to a little bit of change compared to last year," she said. "We had a strong team last year, but this year it's that much stronger and the bench is that much deeper."
Still, with a fast-break game plan comes the need for good cardio training, something the team will continue to work on and assess in the early-going of the season.
"We're really going to push to be a fast-break team and we have to push it a bit harder than what we did this weekend," said Gravengard.
Still, it was hardly a throwaway weekend for the Wolves, from the players to the coaching staff.
"I think as a unit we were a solid team," she said. "Every coach had a contribution. Dave (Waknuk, assistant coach) took the girls to the side and (told them) what they needed to do when they were pulled off. We always kept at them with the feedback and with girls that's a big thing. If you aren't giving them feedback with what they're doing sometimes it's hard for them to get back into the game and to understand what it is they need to do."
The Wolves will take the coming weekend off before preparing for their home-opener Oct. 12-13 against the Lakeland College Rustlers.