UNB Women's Basketball 2013-14 Season Preview

UNB Women's Basketball 2013-14 Season Preview

This is not only a message for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.

This is a message for the Atlantic Universities Sport Women's Basketball Conference.

If teams don't bring their A games to the court this season from Day One, there's going to be an awful lot of scrambling hanging on to the edge of the post-season cliff.

And no one wants that.

Including the Varsity Reds.

"The AUS is an incredibly tough conference. It's simply loaded with very good teams, very good players and high expectations from all of us," said UNB head coach Jeff Speedy. "There's so much balance and that's a credit to all of our programs."

Scanning the UNB roster this season, the word potential is certainly echoing across the AUS landscape.

Every team wants experience, but to earn that tag, players have to learn through mistakes, learn through repetition and learn what it means to compete each day at practice and every weekend on the court whether it's the Richard J. Currie Center or rival hardwood.

"We've talked about last season being a difficult year, but we have to put that away now and realize this is a fresh start, a new beginning and everyone's even right now," said Speedy. "We are crazy young. Those players need to learn quickly and we know this is a process. It's an interesting position to be in. You need patience when developing players, but they've all been brought into this program for a reason. We believe they can play at the AUS and Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. The physical talent is there to compete with just about everyone in the league."

You may need a program when settling into your seat this year for the VReds.

There is certainly excitement building with the addition of Moncton stalwart point guard Grace Wade. The Bernice McNaughton High graduate was an all-star at the 2012 under-17 Basketball Canada championship that unfolded at the Currie Center, leading Team New Brunswick. Wade is a tough and intelligent ball handler.

Athletic guard Awo Farah redshirted a year ago, transferring to UNB from the University of Ottawa. Training camp eyebrow raisers have included former Fredericton High Black Kat Laura Kaye and Hannah Currie of Collingwood, Ont.

UNB also returns former AUS all-star and conference and CIS rookie-of-the-year Claire Colborne to the fold, a fourth year player Speedy will rely on for guidance and leadership.

"We all know what Claire is capable of doing and so do the rest of the teams in the league, but we want her back to becoming one of the top scorers in the country which we know and she knows is more than possible," Speedy said. "She battled last year and learned a lot. I am confident that we will see the very best of Claire's performances this year."

The post combination of Rachel Cleary and Katelyn Mangold showed promise last year and Speedy hopes for more as the maturation process continues for the third and second-year players, respectively.

"We had some huge performances from Rachel and Katelyn last year," Speedy said. "Now, it's about maintaining consistency. They know they can compete and that's a big part of the battle. It's a step up year for both."

Joining Colborne as a fourth year player is point guard Tilly Ettinger, a no-nonsense battler, who lays it on the line each shift. Laura Fox is also a key spoke in the wheel and Speedy needs her to use her athleticism while learning how to effectively manage minutes at the CIS level.

The VReds get a sneak peek at themselves with the popular Accreon Helen Campbell invitational unfolding Oct. 4 to 6 at the Currie Center.

UNB is joined by AUS rival Dalhousie University Tigers, Laval University and last year's CIS silver medal squad University of Regina Cougars, a program where Speedy is a former coach.

"We're really looking forward to the Accreon Helen Campbell tournament and it's always an annual highlight to our season," Speedy said. "I'm looking forward to hosting Regina where that was home for me for four seasons."