Getting back into the playoffs is the Dalhousie women’s basketball team’s goal this season.
“I think we have a way better team than last year, we have more heart, and we’re more physical and more focused,” said second year guard Michele Tchiakoua. “We want to make the playoffs, it sucked sitting on the sidelines watching other teams having a chance to win. I was watching them and it sucked and we have this burning fire in us to make the playoffs.”
Last season they had with three wins and 17 losses; they finished second last in the league.
They were young with only four of 14 players being above their second year. The team is still young, but with the extra year of experience and the further improvements expected to be made during the season, Head Coach Anna Stammberger wants her team to get into the playoffs and surprise their competition.
“By the end of this coming season we are going to improve a lot because the younger you are the bigger the leaps and improvements,” said Stammberger. “I am hoping by the end of this season we are going to be in the playoffs…and try to surprise some people.”
Last year, the Tigers sometimes started three first-year players. Stammberger says that an extra year of experience is a factor in improving the team, especially for the first-year players who have to adjust – not only to a higher level of basketball, but a higher level of school.
“At first year it’s always very challenging,” said Stammberger.
“Most of them are moving away from home, there is an increased volume of academic workload, increased athletic workload, there is a lot of stuff going on, they are like deer in the headlights,” she says. “In second year they are still young but every year helps, they’re a little wiser and a little more experienced. That is the good thing about having the young team, is a lot of our first years got a lot of playing time and a lot of experience, and that’s always helpful.”
Stammberger believes in order to get into the playoffs they need to be better both on offense and defense.
Last year the team scored 57 points-per-game which was second-last in the league. Stammberger thinks the team needs to improve their shooting accuracy – especially with free throws – in order to be better. She said that improves as players get older.
Last season they finished second last in free throw percentage, but they finished sixth in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage.
They also gave up 71.3 points per game, which was last in the league and Stammberger called “horrendous.”
She wants her team to at least allow 65 points per game but she will like it closer to 60. She said they have to be more aggressive on defense to force tougher shots and then grab the defensive rebound.
The team finished the pre-season with one win and five losses but Stammberger isn’t concerned.
“We’re playing a lot of players, we’re travelling a lot, and we played some tough teams so not it doesn’t concern me,” said Stammberger. “We played some good games, there were maybe one or two games that were not up to my standard or wasn’t good enough.”
Second year forward Robertha Charles thinks that over the course of the pre-season the team is improving a lot faster than last year.
“There is definitely a big improvement, it’s not showing on paper but as a team you can feel it,” said Charles. “That process is a lot faster than last year, last year it took too long to improve as a team. This year everyone is getting together and improving faster.”