Golden hoopers ready to up their game
Cambrian College’s women’s basketball head coach Bruce Cowtan watched his team battle adversity during its return season in the OCAA in 2012-13 and knows it will only make them better. The team didn’t make the playoffs and went through its share of ups with more downs, taking some heavy lumps, but when the dust settled on the season, Cowtan knew his team had earned nothing but respect from the league.
“The women proved a couple of things and that was we could beat some top teams and we could compete in the OCAA,” Cowtan said. “It was beyond my expectations. The players all stepped up to help.”
After a long layoff, the Cambrian women’s basketball team played its first full regular season in the OCAA this year. There had been no women’s team since the 1980-81 season.
This year, the team finished in seventh place in the East Division with a 6-12 record. While the team started 2-1, it hit the skids for nine straight losses before righting the ship and finishing strong by going 4-2 in the last six games.
The team went through a lot of tough scenarios as the injury bug reared its ugly head. It took down the team’s top scorer and big time presence in Trish Taylor for the final five games. It also took out spark plug Nicky Prevost for almost the entire campaign. Cowtan only had eight athletes to call upon during the second half of the season due to injuries. It tested the character of the players and Cowtan was encouraged by their responses.
“Nobody gave up,” he said. “It was a big growing year for us. We had some close games and gave teams some tough games. They came together in the second half as a team and bought in to doing it together to win. I didn’t lose any player to academic issues. I was impressed with their dedication to school and basketball this season.”
It was important to the school’s culture to have women’s basketball again. It had been way too long. Cambrian athletic director Tim Yu said he was impressed with the work done by the coaches and managers, who helped build a solid foundation on which the program could grow.
“Any time we are able to provide additional programming for the students is a plus,” Yu said. “With women’s basketball in the mix, we bring our varsity sports to a level of equality having each sport we offer represented by student athletes of both genders. We have a lot of competitive female athletes at Cambrian and they deserve the opportunity to showcase their abilities.
“Bruce is a tremendous asset,” Yu continued. “He commands excellence from his athletes. He does have high expectations, which at times may be difficult to work with, but that displays his tenacity and drive to provide a high quality program.
“Sharon Marcotte, the team manager, also made an impact keeping the team well-organized and informed.”
After a respectable debut season in the OCAA, the women’s team earned some respect and raised the bar. But it will come with a price. Opposing teams will not be caught off guard or underestimate Cambrian next season. Cowtan knows the returning players have to find another level. He has challenged them to find that level in the off-season.
“The team met my expectations in the first year — now my expectations get bigger,” he said. “I’ve asked the players to get bigger and stronger. They know they have to get better and be better next season. We will see who comes back to play harder.”
Cowtan is already anxious to start the 2013-14 season. He has good reason. He loses only two players to graduation — Katie Andrighetti and Katie Daniels. They were important cogs and will be missed, but Cowtan has replacements and figures the returning core will be eager enough to keep proving themselves. The team also moves to the West Division for next season.
“I expect them to keep competing,” Cowtan said. “They have to be ready to want more.”