A huge blow
The University of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team is looking to capture a Canada West and CIS title this season after falling short on the big stage lately.
They will have to do it without Brittany Read.
Last week, it was discovered that the star fourth-year centre’s knee injury was more serious than originally thought. Surgery will be required to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee – surgery that will sideline the kinesiology and health studies student for entire season and playoffs.
Regina is to open up the season on Friday against the University of Brandon Bobcats and will play them again on Saturday. Each game starts at 6:15 p.m. at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport.
“It changes our team dramatically,” said head coach Dave Taylor on the injury to Read. “We’re going to try and figure out what we need to do different offensively over the next couple of weeks.
“We were ranked first in the Canada West in a recent coach’s poll. If we did that same poll now knowing Brittany Read was out, we wouldn’t be ranked first.”
Despite losing Read, Taylor is not writing the season off.
“Our goal is not going to change dramatically,” he said. “Our goal is going to be to get to nationals.”
Last season, the Regina-born Read was named a Canada West all-star. She averaged 14.4 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game and had a 51.8 field goal percentage. All three were team-highs. Read also led the conference in rebound per game and was tied for the lead in blocks (33). Stats aside, at 6-3, Read was a dominant force in the paint for the Cougars.
With Read out, one has to wonder who will replace her.
According to Taylor, the Cougars are still working through this process. What is certain is that Regina will have to look to forwards like Lindsay Ledingham (9.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg in 2009-10), Gabrielle Gheyssen (7.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg), and Megan Chamberlin (2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg) to step up.
Not all of the starting jobs are up in the air. Joanna Zalesiak (14.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) should be the starting point guard and Gabrielle Gheyssen (7.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg) will likely be the starting shooting guard.
Taylor does have confidence in the possible replacements for Read based on preseason play. Regina played solidly without Read during this time.
“We have some players that have fit in really well,” said Taylor.
When it comes to games on the big stage, the Cougars have failed to finish first in the last couple of years. Three years ago, they were defeated in the conference and CIS finals by the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Two years ago, Regina lost in the conference and CIS final to the University of Simon Fraser Clan. They lost in the conference final last season to Simon Fraser as well and were defeated in the CIS bronze medal game by the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
“We’ve lost to better teams,” said Taylor. “For the last three years, we have lost the conference championship to the eventual national champion. When you are losing to the eventual national champion it’s not that bad. We view getting there as a good thing.”
While the Cougars won’t enjoy Read’s services this season, she will get to compete for the Cougars when they host the 2013 CIS Championship tournament since she is sitting out this season.
“That is the one silver lining,” Taylor noted.