November has arrived, which means that basketball has returned to the Western University campus, as both the men’s and women’s Mustangs teams hosted their home openers on November 3.
Women’s Basketball Season Preview
After going 9-13 during the 2016-17 regular season, the Western women scored an upset win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the preliminary round of the OUA playoffs before eventually falling to the McMaster Marauders in the quarterfinals to end their season. Despite not achieving the same win total as the previous year, the season was highlighted by the development of second-year players Laura Graham and Julia Curran, who were both starters and huge factors to the team’s success.
Expected to help Curran and Graham to elevate the team’s production this year are Maddy Horst and Mackenzie Puklicz. Horst returns to action for her third Western season after suffering an injury that sidelined her for the entirety of last season. As a veteran floor general, the Baden, Ont., native will help structure the Mustangs’ offence while anchoring the perimeter defence. Puklicz returns for her fifth and final year after leading the team last year in scoring (15.3 PPG) and rebounding (6.0 RPG). The London product will also provide a leadership role after the departure of newly-graduated guard Meredith McLeod.
Six new faces have been added to the Western roster for the 2017-18 season, including Schekinah Kienansatuko, Jill Kettlewell, Claire Li, Emma Johnson, Skye Barbato, and Deb Kamba.
Men’s Basketball Season Preview
After a year which saw the Mustangs finish with an 8-13 record and miss the postseason for the first time in four years, Western is looking to bounce back in 2017-18 with a mix of veteran leadership and a surge of young talent. After being led in scoring by rookie Omar Shiddo last season, the Mustangs will look to continue developing their young prospects while still relying on the steady production of their more experienced players.
Veterans Alex Coote, Eriq Jenkins and Cam Morris will try to bring the team back to playoff contention. Coote is entering his fourth year of eligibility, and has been named one of the team’s captains this year.
One of the Mustangs’ most versatile players will be Jenkins, as he carries the unique ability to play comfortably at multiple positions on the floor. Hailing from Windsor, Ont., he averaged 11.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG for Western last year, while being the primary defender at both guard and forward positions. Morris, as a big man with the ability to stretch the floor, will be looked to spread the opposing team’s defence on the court, while maintaining his leadership role in the locker room.
By David Sutherland Stol