Every new season brings with it a sense of excitement for what’s to come. This especially goes for the SFU women’s basketball team, who have brought in new faces and returning players alike for the 2018–2019 season. We sat down with head coach Bruce Langford to talk about the upcoming campaign and what he thinks about this year’s group.
“I think we’re young, I think that we should get better and better as we get a chance to play more,” was his first comment, and he isn’t wrong. The team has five freshmen: Sierra Lenz, Sophie Klassen, Georgia Swant (Sophie Swant’s sister), Justina Chan, and Emma Kramer.
Langford is quite excited about this year’s new recruits, and they will be put in a position to succeed from the get-go. Langford already believes that Lenz will be a starter on the team, due to her rebounding ability and competitive spirit — two things that this year’s group will need.
He also believes that Georgia Swant and Kramer will be able to contribute with their shooting ability, which will fit in nicely with the three-heavy offence the team runs. Chan’s offensive ability should also help the team once she gets accustomed to the speed of the NCAA Div II.
Langford seemed most excited, however, about Klassen. Klassen has been nicknamed “Lily” because she’s not the only Sophie on the team, and in Langford’s words, “She’d be a tiger lily if she was a real lily because she’s a tiger out there. She competes like mad; she’s getting better every day. She probably [has] the fastest learning curve of any kid I’ve coached.”
Despite the large freshman class, perhaps the most important “new” pieces for this year’s team are sophomore Ozioma Nwabuko and senior Samantha Beauchamp. Nwabuko missed all of last year with a major injury, requiring microsurgery, while Beauchamp sat out the 2017–2018 season due to personal reasons.
Nwabuko should be a stalwart on defence for the Clan, if her rookie season is any sign, as she often guarded the opposing team’s best offensive player during the 2016–2017 season. Her defensive versatility and fantastic motor will be crucial to the young team’s success. Expectations have to be tempered, however, as she is still battling her injury and might be limited by it to start the season, according to Langford.
Beauchamp will add a much-needed inside presence to an otherwise undersized team. Her 6’3” frame will be a huge presence in the middle, and she will be looked upon for her rebounding ability and inside presence all year.
The only other senior on the team is Sophie Swant, who led the team in scoring (14.2 points per game) and rebounding (5.7 rebounds per game) last season. Expect her to be a vital member of the team again this year, and for her to set the standard for this young Clan team both on and off the court.
Two other returning starters include guards Tayler Drynan and Jessica Jones, who will be looking to build upon strong campaigns last year. After a fantastic season shooting the ball last year, Jones is in line to be a focal point of the Clan offence.
”We need a lot of production from her,” said Langford. “She’s a very good offensive player: she can shoot the ball, she can drive the ball and we need her to do that. We need her to consistently hit shots, and we need her to be strong and tough through adversity because teams are going to try to put a lot of pressure on her to not be able to do what she wants to do.”
While the group may struggle against bigger teams, their fast style of play and shooting ability will make for exciting basketball throughout the year. They will be shooting a lot of threes, and will be making a lot of them as well.
The team was ranked third in the GNAC in the recent coaches’ poll, which would put them in a playoff spot. Realistically, the team will look to make a postseason berth, but if all things click, this could be a team that’s playing in national competition at the end of the season.