As the 2013-14 season begins for the Clan women’s basketball team, memories of their “Sweet 16” appearance and record-breaking 2012-13 campaign are still on the minds of many fans. But what may be more interesting and, of course, more relevant to this season is the question of reinvention for a team that lost three key seniors, notably Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, the team’s first ever NCAA Division II All-American and GNAC and NCAA leader in numerous statistical categories.
But, after this past weekend’s tour through Portland, it’s clear that the new team dynamic will suit this Clan team just fine.
The Clan traveled to Portland for a two-game weekend of exhibition play with games against Division I Portland State and Division III Lewis and Clark. It quickly became evident that this would be a different team than the 2013 GNAC runner-up squad, but one that will rely less on individual talent, but more teamwork.
“We have people that can work and support each other in all positions this year, everyone just needs to stick to the basics and work as a team. We need to be very together to be successful,” explained co-captain Erin Chambers.
The 6’1” guard/forward combo has certainly emerged as the Clan’s leader in the early moments of the season, as the pre-season All-Conference honouree had 24 and 29 points in the Clan’s two games, leading all players on the floor in both.
Meanwhile, junior guard Katie Lowen, whose breakout season last year did not go unnoticed, had 19 and 14 points in the two games. The returning starter, whose fiery play and raw athleticism balances out her 5’6” frame, also added seven rebounds, seven steals and six assists on the weekend.
“I don’t ever notice how small I am,” confessed the GNAC Academic All-Conference athlete. “I anticipate and play hard which helps get the ball in and out of my hands when necessary.”
In the Portland State game, the Clan lost by only five points to the Division I institution falling behind in the first half, but outscoring the home side 44–40 in the second half. The second half pressure was not quite enough to overturn the experienced Portland State, but the team’s combined effort over the first 40 minutes of the season was an excellent indicator of the potential the team will have this year, even as they learn their new pairings and style.
“We definitely are a new team this year, but that isn’t a bad thing,” explained Chambers’ co-captain, Chelsea Reist. “ I think we are going to surprise people, and especially after our play this weekend. People will realize that we aren’t over without Nayo; we are going to be strong together.”
Reist factored largely in the Clan’s second game of the weekend as the 6’2” senior had 10 points and led the team with eight rebounds in the victory. The Clan won 86-66 over Lewis and Clark, leading by 12 points at the half.
Foul trouble kept the home team closer in the game than the Clan would have liked as the visitors sent Lewis and Clark to the free-throw line 43 times. “The rules have changed slightly this year for fouling in women’s basketball,” Chambers explained. “Things and movement that used to be allowed are now being whistled down as fouls which we really have to adjust to.”
The Clan have been known for their competitive and hands on play, so 2013-14 will see a change in movement on the court for the ladies as well as for all the teams in the conference, as adjustments to positioning, picks, and blocks will have to be made.
That being said, if the ladies can show the same teamwork and competitiveness in their upcoming pre-season, continuing to play in a poised and controlled manner, the pre-season will be an obvious display of the season to come. With their new workings on a court and the committed team mantra, the women should have no problem proving that not any one player makes a team, and that 2013-14 will be theirs for the taking.