Sea-hawks make test flight tonight

Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity’s lady hoop­sters see their first ac­tion of 2017-18 as they host four-team ex­hi­bi­tion tour­ney

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - TELEGRAM SPORTS sports@thetele­

The Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity women’s bas­ket­ball team didn’t have a whole lot of off-sea­son turnover. Nev­er­the­less, there are a cou­ple of big va­can­cies to be filled on the ros­ter of the Sea

Hawks, who play their first pre-sea­son game of the

2017-18 cam­paign tonight in St. John’s.

Me­mo­rial is host­ing the sec­ond an­nual Marie’s Mini Mart Fall Clas­sic ex­hi­bi­tion tour­na­ment, which will also in­volve the Ry­er­son Rams of Toronto, Win­nipeg Wes­men and Al­berta Pan­das.

The tour­ney opens with the Wes­men fac­ing the Rams at 6 p.m. at the old MUN gym, while the Lady Hawks will tan­gle with the Pan­das at 8 p.m. at the same fa­cil­ity.

Nine play­ers who saw ac­tion with Me­mo­rial last sea­son are back with head coach Mark English’s squad this fall, in­clud­ing fourth-year for­ward Syd­ney Ste­wart, a first team At­lantic Uni­ver­sity Sport (AUS) all-star in 2016-17. A fourth-year player, Ste­wart led the Sea-hawks in points (15.6), as­sists (3.0) and steals (2.5) per game, and fin­ished third over­all in scor­ing in the con­fer­ence.

Only four play­ers are not re­turn­ing, but that group in­cludes guard Syd­ney Ezekiel and post Grace Diaz-brito, starters who fin­ished as Me­mo­rial sec­ond and third-lead­ing scor­ers in 2016-17. What’s more, Diaz-brito, who has re­turned to her na­tive Spain, was the team’s top re­bounder, av­er­ag­ing nearly eight per con­tests.

That would seem to put some pres­sure on the likes of Brook­lyn Wright, the 6-2 fourth-year for­ward who is just one of two play­ers on the ros­ter — 6-1 rookie Cameron Lon­g­ley is the other — listed as be­ing taller than 5-10. How­ever, in a team re­lease, Ste­wart sug­gested the Sea-hawks’ over­all quick­ness will prove to their call­ing card.

“What we lack in size, we more than make up for with how ag­gres­sive and fast-paced we are,” she said.

Wright and point guard Jane Baird, a third-year Gon­zaga High School prod­uct, join Ste­wart as re­turn­ing starters. Mona Frey, Ash­ley Collins, Rosie Sta­noev, Kelsey Moore, Lind­say Tay­lor and Haille Nick­er­son are also back from 2016-17.

Lon­g­ley, who is from

Nova Sco­tia, and guard

Breena Power out of St.

Kevin’s High in Goulds, a red-shirt last sea­son, are listed as rook­ies. But there are a cou­ple of sec­ond-year play­ers who did not play any games last sea­son and who could be im­por­tant con­trib­u­tors in 2017-18.

Aus­tralian point guard Sammi Deakin-sharpe had to red-shirt with MUN last year af­ter trans­fer­ring from Nicholls State Uni­ver­sity, an NCAA Di­vi­sion 1 school. And for­ward Adreanne En­nis, a se­lec­tion to the AUS rookie all-star team in 2015-16, missed all of last sea­son af­ter shoul­der surgery and isn’t ready to go just yet.

The ex­hi­bi­tion tour­ney con­tin­ues on Fri­day (6 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and Satur­day (4 p.m. and 6 p.m.) mov­ing to the Field House, with the Sea-hawks play­ing the late game in both in­stances.

Me­mo­rial is pre­pared for a test what­ever the op­po­nent and what­ever the day. Win­nipeg (No. 6) and Al­berta (No. 9) both fin­ished the 2016-17 sea­son ranked in the Us­ports Cana­dian top 10, fin­ish­ing 1-2 in the Canada West con­fer­ence. Ry­er­son was an OUA play­off team af­ter go­ing 13-6.

The SeaHawks, who were fourth in the AUS with an 11-9 record, lost in the quar­ter-fi­nals to the even­tual cham­pion Cape Bre­ton Ca­pers by just two points.

That was then and this now. English is anx­ious to see how off-sea­son prepa­ra­tion trans­lates on the court.

“We have put in a solid month and half of work and the team is ea­ger to get on the court and put it all to­gether,” he said. “We are hop­ing to get a sense of where we are and what we need to work on af­ter this week­end. The pre-sea­son is a time to try dif­fer­ent things and dif­fer­ent line-ups to see what works well.”


The Me­mo­rial Sea-hawks will be re­ly­ing on the skills of guard Syd­ney Ste­wart (14), who led the team in scor­ing last sea­son and was an AUS women’s bas­ket­ball first-team all-star. The Sea-hawks play their first ex­hi­bi­tion game tonight at the old MUN gym...





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