Posted on: January 10, 2013
Jen Ju is one of three fifth year players with the WolfPack women’s basketball team. She is the author of this blog.
The WolfPack is on a roll. Just before Christmas break the women’s basketball team at Thompson Rivers University held a 7 and 3 record, dropping two close ones to the UBC Thunderbirds and one to the Regina Cougars. After the latter loss, we came back to beat Brandon, Winnipeg and Manitoba back to back to back.
However, the winning does not stop there.
Over the Christmas break the group along with Head Coach Scott Reeves’ wife Tara Reeves, assistant coach Cindy Mavety and “Superfan” also known as Ron, travelled to Phoenix Arizona to compete against the local NAIA schools there.
The team, during peak hours of Boxing Day left behind all hopes of finding cute dresses and stunning basketball shoes for even more stunning prices to find their way to the Bellingham airport. After a number of transfers, the team finally touches down in Phoenix and (I kid you not) head to their Shoot.
Despite all sorts of factors: fatigue from a long day of travel, other teams practicing in the same vicinity and wild birds creating a ruckus (or perhaps they were cheering us on), the team rose above it all and got what we needed to do in order to prepare for Glendale College the following afternoon.
Glendale played an upbeat tempo: pressuring the ball full-court, fast-breaking when they could and taking the ball to the hoop almost every possession. However, the Pack counteracted with composure; breaking the press and converting baskets, playing lock-down defense both as a team and individually.
Jorri Duxbury in particular had the role of stopping Glendale’s star player from scoring and she did exactly that, limiting the aggressive 3 guard to single digits. The pack also had many members stepping up offensively.
Diane Schuetze and Tracy Kocs were not only monsters on the board but also a force in the paint. Kocs and Schuetze both achieved a double-double in rebounds and points. Taiysa Worsfold, a mere second year—played a phenomenal game, hitting 4 back to back to back to back threes and penetrating the key with authority. Worsfold also had
numerous “hustle plays” where she saved the ball from going out of bounds and allowed her teammates another chance to put points on the scoreboard.
The Pack seemed to have never-ending fight within each individual, only choosing to turn off their engines when the scoreboard’s time showed “00:00” and the pack had won by 30.
It felt like we have finally found our niche, where everyone had a part and belonged to something great.
And like a drug, we were addicted. Both Arizona Christian and Rocky Mountain were tough opponents in that like us, they never gave up fighting. Both games from the start until the end were fast-paced and physical. Yet the team responded well; playing with urgency, protecting the ball, making good reads and converting plays to points. Reeves and Mavety did a great job in assessing the game,,getting players in at key moments and allowing the high level of play to stay at a constant .
Against Rocky Mountain in particular, everybody hit shots. Sarah Malate, Rae Maryse and all three of the present rookies: Denise Spacek, Jenna Quinton and Megan Sherwood stepped into the game and hit from beyond the arc. The Rookies did not look like they just came into the CIS league from high school. Spacek, Quinton and Sherwood were able to matched the opponents’ play without question and at times, we saw our rookies outplay them.
It’s an amazing experience to see our rookies develop so much over the span of a couple months and to witness all their hard work transgress each individual from mere athletes into fluid, knowledgeable basketball players.
After the tournament, the pack had an entire day to spend in the sun. Some chose to hike up a mountain located right behind the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (where the Pack stayed), some chose to bask poolside in the hot
Arizona weather and many chose to capitalize on missing out on Boxing Day in Canada and go shopping for cute dresses and stunning basketball shoes.
Overall, the experience was one that we won’t forget. Being in the 20 degree weather while the rest of our friends and family back home remained in -10 is something we will never let them live down!
On a more serious note, playing the teams we did in Arizona helped us gain a lot of confidence in our abilities as a team. The team became aware of how we needed to handle ourselves in order to be successful against high pressuring teams. We’re also more familiar with one another’s’ “groove” for lack of a better word. What I mean is that the team can not only better identify one another’s style of play but we are able to get the ball to the people who are doing their part particularly well. And what’s nice is that on TRU, there is no designated one person but rather, each member is capable, as was proven in Arizona.
And at the end of their trip the WolfPack along with their cute dresses and stunning basketball shoes has packed this hungry, feisty and tough mentality home with them to use against their opponents the second half of their season.