After finishing the 2021-2022 season with a record of no wins and 13 losses, the Dalhousie University Tigers women’s basketball team looked to start the new season strong. However, the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Reds had different ideas, beating Dal by an average of 24 points over two games on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
Under new head coach Tanya McKay, the Tigers were working on a new defensive approach heading into last weekend. Implementing this kind of new structure can take time before its results start to show.
“I think it’s just with a new team and new coach, everyone’s kind of in a fresh start. I think once we get going, it’ll be a really good season,” said Dal’s leading scorer over the weekend, Gracie Dalton. She averaged 10.5 points per game.
Dal is a young team with just fifth-year newcomer Kelsey Crocker past her second year of eligibility. With the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics, Crocker led the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association in scoring last season, averaging 19.2 points per game.
The Tigers committed a costly 27 turnovers in the weekend’s second game, a 77-54 loss. Crocker said the team needs to be more confident to prevent turnovers, but a lot of this also has to do with being such a new team.
“We’re still learning how to play with one another. We just need to be more confident in ourselves and know that we are good basketball players and we can do this. We also need to trust that our teammates are going to handle the ball,” she said.
Dalton said the team needs to take a breath, not rush, to control the game’s pace.
UNB moves the basketball well, leading the league in assists per game after one week of play, averaging 21.5 assists per game. UNB’s shooting talent was also an issue for its opponent, as the Reds hit 18 three-point shots over the weekend. Mix the Reds’ shooting ability with their size and there is a lot for opposing teams to game plan for.
Crocker said the Tigers could have closed in on UNB’s shooters more and prevented the three-point attempts. However, the team was concerned about keeping UNB from getting in close to the net with their size.
Playing against Jayda Veinot, Atlantic University Sport’s (AUS) reigning MVP, is no easy task on the season’s opening weekend. Alone, she averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and four assists against the Tigers in two games.
“Playing against her, it was a bit tough. UNB is a really strong team. I think we did match up well and obviously, we didn’t play to our full potential … but I think we competed well,” said Dalton.
Keeping the belief
Before the season, Crocker spoke to the growing belief Dal has within themselves as a young team. After a winless season last year, the Tigers are trying to get to a point of knowing they can win games.
“I don’t know if we’re fully there yet,” Crocker said. “I know [success] is coming. It’s getting closer and closer and the second it does, we’re going to be a new basketball team.”
She said she can feel everyone’s will to win and not have the same season as last year.
“I think seeing their desire and hunger to win some games this year and go to playoffs, surprising people, I can see that from them and that really inspires me,” Crocker said.