Brock women’s basketball has never produced an OUA rookie of the year, but that could change this season. The award has been given out to the most deserving freshman each season since the 1988-89 season. Besides the previous three seasons where the award was only given to one player in the entire OUA, for the majority of women’s basketball it’s been given to one player in the west division and another in the east. With the division format back to two instead of four, the award will most likely be given to one player in each division again this season.
The Badgers are off to a 4-4 start, winning all four games at home. This past weekend they snapped a four-game losing streak, after losing all four on the road. Brock looked strong on the offensive side of the court, scoring 61 points against Nippissing and 76 points against Laurentian – 76 is their highest point total for the season.
What stood out during the weekend was that rookie guard Kristin Gallant got her first start of the season on Saturday versus Laurentian. Gallant has arguably been the best player on the Badgers through eight games, and time had to come where she saw the starting lineup.
“Defensive stuff we are working on,” said Brock head coach Ashley MacSporran on why Gallant got the start. “Laurentian has a speedy point guard, so starting Gallant was about defending her and keeping her under control.”
MacSporran went on to say that the team doesn’t focus on who gets the start, and it really depends on matchups.
Gallant, however, has been a matchup nightmare for opponents, as she’s been able to get to the rim at will. She leads the Badgers with 12.6 points per game, while also averaging 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals.
“Her athleticism is what her shining light is,” said MacSporran. “She can shoot the ball, but she hasn’t had to yet. When teams start stopping her drive, she’ll have to be able to go back to that.”
MacSporran said that when she went to go watch Gallant play club ball, it was her shooting that stuck out.
“She would shoot more than drive,” said the coach. “We tell her to go [to the rim] until someone stops her, and no one’s doing that”.
Gallant already has two 23-point performances this season, both coming against tough Queen’s and Ryerson teams. In fact, no OUA rookie of the year has scored 20-points in a game since Danielle Boiago of McMaster and Cassandra Nofuente of Ryerson did it in 2012-13.
If Gallant keeps playing at this pace and spends all five seasons with Brock, she could become the greatest player the program has ever had.
In her first career start, she scored 10 points in the first half but was kept off the scoreboard for the second half. She shot four for six and had five steals.
“She is so fast, so sometimes she tries to gamble and someone will go by her,” said MacSporran when discussing what part of Gallant’s game still needs improvement. “It’s understanding some defensive concepts to make her a powerhouse. Once she gets more of a pull-up off her speed and doing it with her speed, that’ll be the next step for her.”
Gallant leads all OUA rookies in rebounds, assists and steals, but Ryerson’s Marin Scotten is the rookie scoring leader currently. Scotten is averaging 14.3 points on 50 per cent shooting. The Rams rookie has not put up less than 11 points in a game all season.
Turning the focus to the Badgers 4-0 home record and 0-4 road record, the coach believes that has a lot to do with the team’s youth.
“We sort of hit our rock bottom of the season with those four games in eight days, but I think we have turned the corner now,” said MacSporran. “A lot of that is how young we are and understanding how to get wins.”
The season is still young, but the Badgers have done a good job winning the winnable games. It only gets tougher before they close out the 2017 portion of the schedule. They’ll play a tough McMaster team this upcoming weekend, before hosting Ottawa and Carleton. Ottawa is currently 3-4 on the season, but the Ravens are 7-0 and may be the best OUA team.
The goal for the young Badgers should be to come out with at least one win in these next three games, as the schedule does get a bit easier in the new year.