BY JOHN DECOSTE
Kings County Advertiser/Register
If Acadia women’s basketball coach Bev Greenlaw has a wish for the new year, it’s for a healthy team for the remainder of the season – or even for more than a few days at a time.
“It’s always a learning experience for a young team,” Greenlaw says, “and our learning process is being compounded by injuries and illness. I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m getting tired of it.”
As the Axewomen take their Christmas break, Lindsay Harris continues to battle an unexplained illness. Ariel Smith is dealing with a concussion.
And, for a second straight season, Abbey Duinker missed two weeks at a crucial time, “negating what progress she had made in the pre-season.
“We’re literally having to come up with a different way of playing every time out,” a frustrated Greenlaw says. “I’d like to see us be healthy - and be able to practice and play games - with the same group every time out.”
The Axewomen “are a good group, very teachable and coachable, but they need a lot of teaching” because of their youth and experience level.
“Most times this season, we’ve started three players that are either first-year (Kristy Moore, Rachel Savage) or in their first year at Acadia and new to university basketball (like Smith, a transfer from Winnipeg, where she played two years of varsity women’s volleyball).
“At their best,” he says, the Axewomen “are markedly better than anyone would have predicted we’d be. For the second straight year, our pre-season record landed us in the first CIS top-10 of the season.”
While it hasn’t been entirely downhill since then (Acadia entered the Christmas break with a 2-4 record), there unfortunately hasn’t been a whole lot of uphill either.
“Even though we seem to have had a lot more injury and illness than one would expect - or deserve - it’s nothing we can control. We need to continue to develop and work the best we can with the talent we have.”
Emma Duinker, in terms of both her play and overall leadership, is in the midst of an MVP-calibre season.
“Right now, she is playing as well as anyone in the country,” Greenlaw says of the fourth-year forward. “She’s playing with confidence, has improved her scoring, and is rebounding like she never has before.”
Duinker, he says, “is usually called upon to defend the opposition’s best players. Despite playing hurt most nights, she is among the top three-point shooters and free throw shooters in the country.
“She does everything she does with such poise, even more than she has for the past two years. I’m so pleased with her – and for her.”
Other than Smith (third-year) and Erica Berry (fifth-year), both transfers from volleyball, Emma is “the closest thing to a veteran player we have.”
Harris, despite “playing at half speed or less” so far this season, “has been just remarkable. We anticipate that, as Abbey continues to get healthier, she will also develop into the complete player we feel she can be.”
Among the reasons Acadia has been as good as it has this season are Ariel Smith, Kristy Moore and Rachel Savage, all new to the program.
Savage, a first-year player from Tennessee, “had a lot to learn even about playing basketball under CIS rules. We’ve been very pleased with her development: what we saw on her DVD is what we’re seeing now.
“She’s made a few first-year mistakes, but not that many. She’s learning to handle the ball, play facing the basket, and has added a three-point shot.”
Moore, in her first year out of Halifax West High School, and Smith “have both shown flashes of tremendous promise, especially offensively. We’re extremely pleased with the upside they have shown, which concurs with what we thought they would bring to us when we brought them here.”
Greenlaw stressed, “the thing you have to remember about our team is that players like Lindsay and Abbey are both still sophomores” who are being asked to perform like veterans.
The Axewomen begin the second half at a tournament starting Dec. 31 at Mount St. Vincent, before resuming the AUBC regular season at home Jan. 8 and 9 against Saint Mary’s and St. F.X.