by Kirk Jessome
Looking to continue the steady progress made by the program in recent years, the Tigers women’s basketball team is gearing up for their 2019-20 campaign to tip-off this weekend.
With the graduation of last season’s top three scorers in Robertha Charles, Michele Tchiakoua, and Sophie Gaube, the new look Tigers will be led by Ariel Provo and the Tigers lone senior, Chelsea Slawter-Wright. With a very young roster around them, the two Tigers guards will likely be relied on to split time at the point guard position throughout much of the season.
Due to some injuries on the roster last season, a strong class of now second-year players have had more experience on the court than most athletes at this stage. This led to the development of Lia Kentzler, the Tigers rookie out of Gottingen, Germany, who appears to be the successor to the role left by Charles. Kentzler has proven to be a great rebounder and has a solid presence in the paint at both ends of the floor, exactly what the Tigers needed to compliment their guard play.
Also having a breakout rookie campaign last season was Emily Holt. Her play off of the bench as a very well-rounded, defensive guard earned Holt a starting position in the back half of the season.
The style of play from both Kentzler and Holt fit into head coach Anna Stammberger’s vision for the team nicely, while just in their second seasons with the team.
“We’ve focused on strength and fundamentals over the past summer, and on individual and team defence in the pre-season,” explains Stammberger. “A few of our young players already had starting roles last season and have gained more AUS experience than most rookies.”
Joining the Tigers roster this season down low are Chloe Wilson and Nalini Maharaj. Both Wilson and Maharaj have had an impressive pre-season campaign, immediately contributing to the Tigers offensive sets and cleaning up rebounds on both sides of the ball. Both players are likely to play a key role for a slightly banged-up Tigers roster to start the season.
At the guard position, the Tigers have brought in Morgan Gause from Baltimore, Maryland, who is a talented scoring point guard and strong defender at the other end of the court. Gause finished her high school career averaging 22.5 points and an incredible 5.1 steals per game.
The Tigers finished last season with an improved 8-12 record and the final spot in the AUS playoffs before dropping their quarter-final matchup to Acadia. Coach Stammberger believes that once her team is healthy, the defensive focus that has been worked on throughout the off-season and the acquisition of their rookie class will be the keys to bettering that record this season, and make a meaningful push into the conference playoffs.
The long road toward the playoffs begins this Saturday, as the Tigers will host StFX at Dalplex in their season opener with tipoff at 6:00pm.