Women's basketball: 2010-11 season preview

It's time once again for The CIS Blog's basketball previews. Today, we'll preview who we see as the top 20 teams in the women's game.

These rankings are arbitrary and mostly stats-based, and do not represent the views of CIS coaches or authorities in any way. Certainly there is some anecdotal weight given (experience begets estimation, after all) but the final decision is based for the most part on the statistics presented.

Some explanation of the stats: The RPI ranking includes all 2009-10 games (exhibition, season, playoffs, Final 8). "Offence" and "defence" are points per 78 possessions (the average number in a CIS game) and can be thought of as adjusted points-for and points-against averages. The difference between the two is the number in parentheses, serving as a plus/minus of sorts. These numbers are rounded and may not add up precisely. Top 100 players refers to the Player Efficiency Rankings for 2009-10. Other statistics referenced can be found at the CIS site.

Last year's results: 13-9 season record, lost in the first round of both the OUA playoffs and national championship, which they hosted (21st in RPI)
Offence / defence: 65/61 (+4)
They return: 9 players, 73% of minutes, 72% of points
Top 100 players: Taylor Chiarot (63), Hailey Milligan (39)
Outlook: McMaster plays host to a group of strong bodies that aren’t afraid to, and in fact seem to relish, physical contact (she said, speaking from painful experience). They can win by sheer intimidation – any team scared of physicality will not fare well against the Marauders. However, their three-point shooting is barely enough to draw a defense’s interest. Unless they bring something new to the table this year, their long-range game will need to be remedied if they want to produce a well-rounded attack (and get the defense to stick its neck out beyond the junction).

Last year's results: 8-12 season record, did not make CW playoffs (22nd in RPI)
Offence / defence: 62/71 (-9)
They return: 6 players, 43% of minutes, 43% of points
Top 100 players: Kayla Klassen (96)
Outlook: Manitoba struggled last season (arguably more than expected), though they did take some big Ws off bigger, better teams. What might help them? Crippling other teams with foul trouble and getting to the line as a result (although they’ll have to practice hitting their free throws, because Klassen can’t solve the problem alone if she’s the only one with a plus-80-percent return).

Last year's results: 8-12 season record, did not make CW playoffs (24th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 67/69 (-2)
They return: 8 players, 92% of minutes, 93% of points
Top 100 players: Megan Schaufele (100), Alex Cole (36)
Outlook: Calgary has no trouble scoring, often taking big teams for 80-plus points, but they also have no trouble letting their opponents do the same. Ashley Hill and Megan Lang are deadly outside shooters, but with Cole as their only real defensive threat (five times more blocks than the next-highest teammate), the Dinos are going to have to shut down in the back court before they throw down in the front, which is a big change from their standard M.O.

Last year's results: 6-10 season record, lost QUBL semifinal to Laval (17th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 62/64 (-2)
They return: 9 players, 71% of minutes, 71% of points
Top 100 players: None, surprisingly
Outlook: Bishop’s will be in tough this year: they return nine, but it’s from a group that went 6-11 overall (season and playoffs, that is) and didn’t have a single stat higher than 10th in the country (and most were 30th or lower). Despite this, bringing back a sizable core group will work in their favour, especially against previously-dominant squads like Laval.

Last year's results: 10-10 season record, lost CW quarterfinal to SFU (16th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 68/69 (-1)
They return: 8 players, 70% of minutes, 70% of points
Top 100 players: Amy Ogidan (92), Caitlin Gooch (32)
Outlook: Winnipeg hasn’t changed much from last year (and that’s why their ranking is staying the same). Ogidan is the closest thing to an Uzo Asagwara 2.0 (perhaps the modern version of); meanwhile, Alex MacIver (ranked 103rd) will take care of business inside (is there anyone who can push that girl around?). They’ll need to do better than .500 this year, though, if they want to grab a playoff win or two, and they can start the process by physically dominating smaller teams like Alberta and Calgary.

Last year's results: 7-9 season record, won QUBL semifinal, lost QUBL final to Laval (13th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 66/66 (0)
They return: 6 players, 52% of minutes, 64% of points
Top 100 players: Marie-Eve Martin (77), Anneth Him-Lazarenko (13)
Outlook: Last year’s sub-.500 record isn’t much to shake a stick at, and the Martlets are only returning 50% of that group – but in that 50% are Martin and Him-Lazarenko. McGill might be a ways away from championship contention, but look for them to shake things up in the middle of the pack.

Last year's results: 13-9 season record, lost OUA quarterfinal to Western (18th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 68/61 (+7)
They return: 11 players, 78% of minutes, 74% of points
Top 100 players: Whitney Gorges (57), Hillary Woodside (35)
Outlook: Brock brings a fair share of experience to the table, which will serve them well in the coming season, and the new regionals system should at least allow them a chance to climb around the Windsor-Western obstacle. As well, last year’s fairly well-rounded scoring pattern will likely continue, which will prevent them becoming a one-trick pony. Their three-point shooting is fairly impressive, but they need to get more of those long bombs off if they want to take down teams with much stronger offenses (and they need to get more girls on the boards to pick up the misses).

Last year's results: 13-7 season record, lost AUS semifinal to Saint Mary's (12th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 68/65 (+3)
They return: 9 players, 66% of minutes, 63% of points
Top 100 players: Grace Fishbein (67), Alexandra Forsey (64)
Outlook: Vicki Thistle is out for the year due to a summer injury, which is 16 points per game the Seahawks can’t really afford to lose. Forsey, Fishbein and Brittany Daulton will have to step up to the scoring plate for them this year, and they’ll have some big shoes to fill on the boards if they want to prevent other teams from grabbing easy second-chance points.

Last year's results: 19-1 season record, won AUS championship, finished 5th at Final 8 after being eliminated by Saskatchewan (4th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 71/53 (+18)
They return: 7 players, 59% of minutes, 49% of points
Top 100 players: Kari Everett (55)
Outlook: Coming off of an impressive season like the Capers’ was last year, you might think they would be ranked higher – but they’re going to miss Portugal-bound Kelsey Hodgson (and her 22 points per game) desperately. That, coupled with returning only half of their roster (and half of their points) will put Cape Breton in a much tougher spot in 2011.

Last year's results: 12-10 season record, won OUA East, lost both the OUA Final and their national quarterfinal to Windsor (14th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 65/64 (+1)
They return: 6 players, 47% of minutes, 50% of points
Top 100 players: Hannah Sunley-Paisley (4)
Outlook: Sunley-Paisley can carry a team, but only when she’s on her game; and when she’s off, the Gee-Gees will find themselves struggling to draw defenses, grab boards, and block shots. They have one “big” (a.k.a., post) step on Cape Breton in this regard, though, and that will remain a “sizeable” advantage for them.

Last year's results: 13-3 season record, won QUBL final, lost national quarterfinal to Regina (5th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 68/60 (+8)
They return: 8 players, 65% of minutes, 70% of points
Top 100 players: Elyse Jobin (59), Marie-Pascale Nadeau (27), Marie-Michelle Genois (24)
Outlook: Laval, once again, will be Francophone femme fatales: despite the notable absence of point guard Chanelle St. Amour, the Rouge et Or look more golden than red with a full 70% of their points returning from last year's powerful group. Genois will take care of business inside, and if they can figure out a replacement point guard they should be top of the QUBL once more (although with the strength coming out of both East and West this year, they will need to fight hard to move much further than that).

Last year's results: 18-4 season record, won OUA quarterfinal, lost OUA semifinal to Ottawa (11th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 72/56 (+15)
They return: 8 players, 79% of minutes, 80% of points
Top 100 players: Kendall Macleod (89), Alyson Bush (60), Ashleigh Cleary (48)
Outlook: Despite missing the 2010 nationals last year, coach Taffe Charles is optimistic: “…we will probably be more talented than the year before." Returning 80% of production to a team that finished a hair’s breadth from OUA East glory will certainly help the Ravens, as will their strong outside shooting and low turnover rate. It will be interesting to see their uOttawa rematch, considering the Gee-Gees’ comparable lack of returning experience.

Last year's results: 15-5 season record, won CW quarterfinal, lost CW third-place game to Saskatchewan (9th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 71/58 (+13)
They return: 10 players, 60% of minutes, 55% of points
Top 100 players: Kendra Asleson (42), Marisa Haylett (29), Georgia Popovici (14)
Outlook: Alberta’s got the speed and the scoring ability, but compared to other prairie squads their size inside is a little lacking. The Pandas have put a good scare into a number of teams in the past, though, and this year looks to be no exception. They will miss the leadership – and sweet backboard shot – of Emily Bolduc, but Nicole Clarke is a promising candidate to take the helm (as long as she can manage to stay healthy).

Last year's results: 11-7 season record, lost CW quarterfinal to Alberta (15th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 73/63 (+10)
They return: 10 players, 79% of minutes, 87% of points
Top 100 players: Leigh Stansfield (81), Lia St. Pierre (23), Zara Huntley (20), Alex Vieweg (9)
Outlook: UBC is a perennial powerhouse that has faltered in recent years – but if all goes well, look for this season to be (semi-recent) history repeating itself. Huntley’s sweet hook shot and rebounding prowess, coupled with the hybrid mentality of Vieweg (from point guard to post, is there a position she hasn’t played for the ‘Birds?) will be a tough combo to control. Their potential downfall? Injuries – the blue and gold are strong but not deep, and any significant loss to their starting line could spell disaster.

Last year's results: 12-8 season record, won AUS semifinal, lost AUS final to Cape Breton (7th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 66/59 (+7)
They return: 7 players, 59% of minutes, 61% of points
Top 100 players: Robbi Daley (73), Justine Colley (8)
Outlook: The AUS silver-medalist Huskies only return 60 percent of their offense, but if Canada West is finally going to lose its 20-year grip on the Bronze Baby, Western and Windsor aren’t going to be the only ones shaking things up in the top 10. Colley will continue to score huge points for SMU, and if they can get to the line consistently their reliably strong free-throw shooting will be a huge asset.

Last year's results: 16-4 season record, won CW semifinal, lost CW final to SFU (6th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 72/58 (+13)
They return: 7 players (plus one transfer), 60% of minutes, 55% of points
Top 100 players: Carmen Stewart (88), Joanna Zalesiak (19), Brittany Read (2)
Outlook: There’s no doubt that Read can clean up inside, and Zalesiak is a defender’s nightmare. Transfer Carly Graham will be an occasional grenade to toss from the three-point line, but the real reason Regina will be deadly? Last year marked the second time in a row SFU pressed pause on the prairie team’s pursuit (of gold)...to quote Bart Simpson, I can't help but feel partially responsible. But seriously, folks, with the red and blue now moved on to the NCAA and some of the spoils padding the Cougars' roster, Regina will be even more dominant than before – which is scary, considering a good chunk of their team has been carried over from both of those previous seasons. Expect big things when they meet their provincial rival (and not just Read and Spindler duking it out). This will not be a contest worth missing.

Last year's results: 17-5 season record, won OUA quarterfinal, lost OUA semifinal to Windsor (10th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 71/65 (+5)
They return: 7 players (plus one transfer), 60% of minutes, 55% of points
Top 100 players: Matteke Hutzler (86), Rebecca Moss (78), Katelyn Leddy (43)
Outlook: Were it not for meeting Windsor in the OUA semis last year, Western could have been a contender (they could have been somebody! Hey, Stella!) in the national championship; as it were, the Mustangs had their season cut short (and are ready for revenge this year). The combination of Leddy inside and Moss downtown is deadly as-is, but add in transfer Hutzler (the 2009 Final 8 MVP who is exceptional at capitalizing on opportunities and seems to be doing just that) and you’ve got a killer combination.

Last year's results: 14-4 season record, lost in CW quarterfinals to Saskatchewan (8th in RPI)
Offence / defence: 72/62 (+10)
They return: 10 players, 74% of minutes, 78% of points, as well as Coach of the Year Brian Cheng
Top 100 players: Vanessa Forstbauer (80), Kristen Hughes (61), Debbie Yeboah (34), Kayla Dykstra (7)
Outlook: Returning ten, UVic is essentially last year’s team, which has already done some giant-killing and could very well do the same this year. Dykstra, a second-team all-star last year and the CIS MVP the year before that, leads the charge, and will be a (literally) powerful adversary for opposing defenses, while Yeboah will crack things wide open for her from the outside. The rumour mill has Vic sitting at best in the (Can) West, but we’ve put Sask ahead for a reason: consistency. The Vikes have a history of stumbling in the playoffs, and it was actually the Huskies who ended their season last year. UVic will be a powerhouse this time around, but it remains to be seen whether history will repeat itself or if the Vikes will finally make it all the way to the Final 8.

Last year's results: 14-6 season record, won CW quarterfinal, lost CW final to SFU and national semifinal to Windsor (3rd in RPI)
Offence / defence: 69/60 (+9)
They return: 8 players (plus one transfer), 69% of minutes, 59% of points
Top 100 players: Kim Tulloch (87), Katie Miyazaki (68), Jana Spindler (66)
Outlook: Saskatchewan fills the stereotypical prairie mould: ridiculous fast break speed and big (as in near-immovable) bodies inside. The addition of defensive specialist Miyazaki will be a spark to their backcourt tinder, but it’s the front court they need to work on: both the Huskies and their SFU transfer have struggled with turnovers in the past, and it has been their Achilles heel in important games. If you’re going to buy tickets, though, pay to watch Sask: Miyazaki’s acrobatic steals will be the lightning bolt that highlights the titanic crashes of the green and white against a host of other big, fast and powerful teams (and put more money on the Huskies coming out on top).

Last year's results: 21-1 season record, won OUA playoffs, finished second at nationals to SFU (2nd in RPI)
Offence / defence: 71/56 (+14)
They return: 11 players, 84% of minutes, 85% of points
Top 100 players: Miah-Marie Langlois (83), Laura Mullins (26), Bojana Kovacevic (21), Jessica Clemencon (10)
Outlook: Any pundit choosing someone other than Windsor to win this year’s championship would have, in nicest terms, a heck of a lot of explaining to do: they’ve already matched up against other top 10 teams in exhibition and the scores and the stats speak entirely for themselves. Having mentored under dynamo point guard Shavaun Reaney for a year, Langlois will step into the top spot with national finals experience already under her belt. Add to that the defense-splitting specialist Kovacevic and CIS rookie of the year and tournament all-star Clemençon. Scarily enough, they might be just as powerful in 2012: the only fifth-years on their roster are Heather Ross and Raelyn Prince (ranked 102nd), likely meaning another year with a double-digit veteran list (and maybe even a repeat championship).
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