Throughout the 2015-2016 season, it could be seen that the Brock Women’s Basketball team had really gotten away from their style of play compared to the season prior. The women were a much more skilled and successful team compared to the year prior, which has led them back to the playoffs.
The Badgers finished with a 10-9 record, which is two wins better than the previous season. Among that, they began the season ranked number six in the country, before falling completely off the list in week seven of the season.
“It’s acknowledged we play in the toughest division in Canada,” said Head Coach Si Khounviseth. “Any year is successful when you can get to the playoffs.”
Khounviseth is not wrong about their division being the hardest in the country. Last year the Badgers missed the playoffs with an 8-11 record, which was tied for third with Guelph in the OUA central division. Western, who is in the OUA west division was able to sneak in with a 7-13 record and Laurentian, in the OUA north division got in, also with an 8-11 record.
This year, though the Badgers successfully got in, their division rival Lakehead missed the playoffs with a 7-12 record. Out in the OUA north division, Laurentian got in with a 3-16 record, and teams like Toronto and Laurier got into the playoffs in their division, although they had one or two more wins than Lakehead.
The Badgers were able to find their way into the playoffs and that was mostly due in part to their top defence. To finish the season, the Badgers ranked sixth in the OUA in defensive points per game. Since Khounviseth has taken over the head coaching duties, the women’s team has ranked in the top-10 in defence every year. They have also made the playoffs in six of his seven seasons.
For the 2015-16 season, the Badgers started the year off with a three point loss to divisional rival McMaster, but from there went on to win five straight games. They looked like a dominant team both defensively and offensively.
However, once the calendar year turned, the Badgers found themselves struggling to stay healthy and to find their offensive game. The team would lose six of their first nine games in 2016, and finish with a 5-8 record in their final 13 games.
“Every team goes through stretches of adversity,” said Khounviseth. “When you face those adversities you have to have people in the locker room step up. When looking at game-film, there were some prime scoring opportunities that we just didn’t finish.”
The offense would eventually cost the Badgers late in the season, as the team began to miss multiple open shots during games. The team would get great looks inside, but would fail to complete the play.
Last year’s team was also known to be much more aggressive on their outside shots, as the Badgers ranked second in most three-pointers made (142) in the entire country. They also took the most three’s in the country at 487. However, this year the team, with similar personnel seemed to have gotten away from that as the Badgers fell outside of the top-10 in both three-pointers made and attempted.
“One of the things we struggled with was style. I felt like we played a little bit more free last year,” remarked Khounviseth. “This year we kind of didn’t really take those [threes] or understand in order for us to be good inside, we have to be good outside.”
Khounviseth continued saying opposing teams just began packing the paint on defense challenging the Badgers to shoot from the outside. It has been made clear that to be successful in the league, teams have to be able to knock down the outside shot.
Unfortunately, a lot of the Badgers outside shooting struggles came due to the injury-bug. Melissa Tatti missed the final two games of the season and the playoff game versus Guelph, and she has arguably been the most effective three-point shooter for the Badgers. Chrissy Sirignano, a first-year guard had been playing injured all year and according to the head coach, Sirignano should have shut down her season due to the injury.
Now with the season over, Sirignano will be ordered for four weeks of complete rest, as her other option was surgery.
The Badgers were also without Dayna Howlett for the entire season, as the fourth-year guard decided to shut her basketball career down due to chronic back pain. If Howlett had decided to continue to play she would have required back surgery, but opted to shut it down instead.
“There were days where she played in practice and could barely [walk] after,” said Khounviseth. “She [would have given] us a six foot shooter with a quick release.”
Other players that missed some time due to injuries for the Badgers were Kira Cornelissen (missed one game), Becky Ralph (missed one game), Kate Harpur (missed two games due to an ankle injury) and Aryn Finley (missed five games).
There will also be five graduating players on the Badgers, and all five members have been a huge contributed to Khounviseth’s success as Brock head coach. Point guard Jenalyn Yumol, center Kate Harpur and guards Dayna Howlett, Kayla Santilli and Becky Ralph will all be leaving the team after this season. Yumol, Harpur, Santilli and Ralph all joined the Badgers together back in 2011-12.
Yumol finishes her career as the all-time assist leader in Brock history, something she achieved back in November. She played a total of 102 regular season games for the Badgers scoring a total 623 points. Yumol also had 294 assists and 156 steals.
Harpur played in 75 regular season games, as she dealt with a concussion last season and an ankle injury this past season. She had 391 total career points and 396 career rebounds. Howlett played in 58 career games, scoring 245 points. Ralph scored 156 career points in 71 games.
The player Khounviseth highlighted as the beginning to a successful recruiting class was Santilli. The guard played in 103 games, scoring 1,003 points, 130 career three-pointers, 398 rebounds, 170 assists and 156 steals. Santilli is in the top ten in every statistic category in the history of Brock Women’s Basketball, and one of her best career games came this season when she broke the Brock record for most three’s in a game. She would hit five three-pointers totaling to 21-points versus Laurentian.
To replace the five retiring players, the Badgers added six rookie players to this year’s roster, and Khounviseth hopes to add three or four more recruits this summer. The coach believes this upcoming recruiting group is not a strong class, so he plans to leave a couple spots open for the 2017 summer.
“We have a really solid core,” said Khounviseth. “We brought six rookies in this year for a reason, knowing they are going to have to play next year.”
“Everyone expects us to rebuild, but my honest answer is that we will be better next year than we were this year. I think we are going to sneak up on some teams, because people are going to expect us to drop. We have some hidden rookie that didn’t really play this year.”
Khounviseth will look to make next year’s team a much more up tempo offensive team that is not afraid to shoot the three in transition.
This season ended a little earlier than the Badgers had hoped, but Khounviseth has certainly built a consistent winning program.