Marauders close door on surprising season

Scott Hastie
March 21, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

On the surface, 2012-13 was a great season for the McMaster women’s basketball team. They improved as the season went on, they produced an OUA All-Star and an All-Canadian Rookie, and they won more games this year than in the past three.

But head coach Theresa Burns has more to be excited about than the accolades.

“I’m proud of how far we’ve come from an on-court, technical performance standpoint. But I think we’ve always had a pretty positive team culture, and it’s hard to think, okay, how can we make this even better?” explained Burns.

Burns says the second half of the season was overall successful, but the winter break trip to the University of Calgary was her personal favourite point in the season. The Marauders averaged 75.6 points per game and beat the Canada West powerhouse Calgary Dinos.

The Marauders have the luxury of returning every player next year, and Burns is looking forward to bringing back what she calls is the hardest working group she’s ever coached.

“You’re working with these absolutely 100 per cent committed people. Their work ethic is just off the charts. It’s pretty special,” she said.

“Having the whole team return is also a testament to the leadership. Everybody bought in to the culture.”

Burns pointed to Hailey Milligan as one of the players who played a major leadership role while also improving her on-court performance.

Milligan exploded in the second-half of the season, tossing aside every defensive strategy thrown at her by the OUA West. The highlight performance of her season was a 27-point, 14-rebound showing against Laurier. The OUA All-Star erased any doubts that her fourth season was going to be her breakout year and not just an anomaly.

While Mac’s head coach was extremely proud of the squad, the time away from the day-to-day grind of the season has given the coaching staff some focus points for the offseason.

“In the playoffs, you find out where you are strong and where you need work. Clearly in the OUA West Final against Windsor, and then the OUA Bronze game against Ottawa, the depth of scoring was a problem. It was an issue all year,” Burns said.

To address the concern about a lack of bench scoring, Burns is taking a two-pronged approach. First, she hopes to use the offseason to turn into her players into more well-rounded ones on the offensive. Mac struggled to sustain a strong half-court offence for the majority of the season – an area that hurt the team against the stronger squads in the CIS.

The veteran coach says that having an all-around offensive game will allow for more synergy in the offence while also allowing for less reliance on the talents of Hailey Milligan and Danielle Boiago.

Mac has also landed some recruits that will diversify the Marauder scoring. Hamilton local Lexie Spadafora will gear up for the Maroon and Grey in 2013, and her presence brings another facet to the high-tempo attack. The guard was near the top of the scoring leader board for the Hamilton high schools hoops scene.

The other notable recruit is Jelena Mamic, who was the top player on an OFSAA bronze medal team.

Between Boiago, Spadafora, Mamic, and Vanessa Bonomo, McMaster is poised to have one of the most lethal backcourts in the OUA.

As the offseason begins, Burns says the team is already chomping at the bit to get back on the court. Last year, Mac used the offseason to reach an elite level of fitness. This year, the team will look to maintain that intensity while also tweaking aspects of their on-court performances.

With a young roster and a wealth of experience, the Maroon and Grey could be adding some bronze, silver or gold next season.

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