...Despite the Sunday School performance

“It’s really hard to be able to put on a happy face,” says Lauren Van Dolah of her time on the bench last weekend. “You just want to play. You see things and wish you had the chance to go and fix things, but you don’t have that opportunity because you’re not even dressed.”

Van Dolah, a third year forward, sat out during last weekend’s games against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, joining starting point guard Kristin Leigh on the bench with injury. Both saw plenty of problems.

Turnovers, bad execution, and poor decisions were the formula for some mind meltingly boring basketball at the Sportsplex on Friday the 13th. It could be attributed to several inexperienced players being given big minutes in the absence of Van Dolah and Leigh. The vital point guard position was filled by talented but unseasoned first-year Donna Blaszak, who, according to Leigh, was at times “overwhelmed.” It's not surprising, for a rookie playing a position that depends on experience and confidence.

Without the familiarity of their starting point guard the team occasionally looked lost, and even though the Blues ended up securing a 70-48 victory, it felt like they were engaged in a bitter lay-up missing contest. Really, the only logical explanation for their victory is that they were playing the Bearcats, a religious school whose prayers have clearly gone unanswered in the basketball department.

But what if Leigh and Van Dolah had been out against real competition? A showing like Friday’s game would be disastrous against a team like the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), their next opponent.

Basically, these games were a chance for head coach Paul Chiarenza to give valuable real-game experience to his rookies and bench, so that in a similar situation against a better opponent they are capable of stepping in. Finding minutes for players outside of the usual rotation is difficult in a close game, yet this weekend was a dream chance for Chiarenza to achieve this. Leigh agrees, saying, “I think we learned a lot this weekend. It gave people a chance to get good minutes.”

The Saturday game, also against the Bearcats, certainly showed improvement. Gone was much of the nervousness that had plagued the younger players. Blaszak had a very solid game, breaking down several defenders and making nice finishes, replacing Friday’s groans with the scattered applause of the twenty-five fans. Fellow rookies Alynn McNeilly, Amber Pederson, and Laura Kynoch also played well with extended minutes, and Van Dolah emphasized how “awesome” and “amazing” second year guard Leeza Tengco played.

A kind and caring person would not kick someone when they were down – fortunately, I am neither of those, and would like to point out that the Blues scored nearly double the points the Bearcats did on Saturday (79-40), and combined to have a sixty-one point winning margin over the two games.

To maintain their ranking of third in the BCCAA, the Blues' play must be more disciplined and controlled than it was last weekend, and certainly the return of Leigh and Van Dolah will help them regain their equilibrium. Both will be glad to be back on the court.

//Mac Fairbairn
Sports Editor

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