‘If there’s a loose ball, she’s on it’

Roach plays im­por­tant de­fen­sive role with Ca­pers women

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY T.J. COLELLO sports@cb­post.com On Twit­ter: @cb­post_s­ports

Natasha Roach was the only ath­lete in her fam­ily to play univer­sity bas­ket­ball. That was un­til this year.

Her younger sis­ter, Lat­i­fah Roach, has fol­lowed in her foot­steps. Lat­i­fah is a 5-5 rookie guard with the Con­cor­dia Stingers in Mon­treal. The two took sim­i­lar paths, both play­ing with John Ab­bott Col­lege in the West Is­land area of Mon­treal prior to making the jump to univer­sity.

“We talk mostly at the end of the week on off days,” said 22year-old Natasha. “She asks how to work harder. My main thing com­ing into univer­sity was stay­ing in shape. I was the worst eater and wasn’t the best at that. Her dif­fi­culty now is find­ing the right things to eat, ex­er­cis­ing and keep­ing in shape dur­ing the game and not get­ting tired really fast. She wanted to earn more min­utes and that’s what she’s been ask­ing about.”

While Lat­i­fah is still learn­ing the ropes in univer­sity bas­ket­ball, Natasha has been a de­fen­sive main­stay in her four sea­sons with the Ca­pers. She was rec­om­mended to head coach Fabian McKen­zie by for­mer Ca­pers all-star and fel­low Mon­trealer Natasha Eadie, who’s now an as­sis­tant with the Stingers women’s team.

“(Eadie) is the one who told me about the school first and she told Fabe about me,” said Roach. “I love it here so far. I still con­tact her some­times and she gives me ad­vice about her past ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Roach’s de­fen­sive game will be even more im­por­tant this week­end when the third-place Ca­pers women (4-2) put a fourgame win­ning streak on the line when they host the Me­mo­rial Sea-Hawks (0-6) for the fi­nal games of the term. Al­though Me­mo­rial is win­less so far, they do have play­ers that can score, in­clud­ing Sydney Ste­wart and Sydney Ezekiel. Both are av­er­ag­ing close to 15 points per game.

“Ever since I first started bas­ket­ball, I just re­mem­ber play­ing de­fence really well,” she said. “I couldn’t score the ball as well be­cause I didn’t have that tech­nique yet, but I al­ways loved de­fence. It’s some­thing that came nat­u­rally for me.”

McKen­zie said Roach’s role has been the same since she ar­rived, and has added some of­fence along the way. She av­er­ages 6.3 points and 3.8 re­bounds per game, and is third in the con­fer­ence with 4.3 as­sists per game.

“She’s a hus­tler. If there’s a loose ball, she’s on it,” he said. “She’s just an all-out worker and be­side that, she’s a great per­son. She’s been a great ad­di­tion to our team and she’s really rel­ished in her role to be a de­fender, a stop­per, that kid who’s go­ing to hustle and get you all those lit­tle ex­tra things.”

The sixth-place Ca­pers men (2-4) are look­ing to put a three­game los­ing streak to a halt. They’re hop­ing to turn their for­tunes against the fourth-place Sea-Hawks (3-3) and end the term on a high note.

Ca­pers men’s head coach Matt Skinn said his team’s in­ten­sity in the de­fen­sive end and their re­bound­ing needs to im­prove. Con­sis­tency has also been an is­sue with his club.

“We’re try­ing not to look be­hind us to what’s hap­pened, we’re just try­ing to look ahead and take care of busi­ness on our home floor this week­end,” he said. “Me­mo­rial is a good team, very good post play­ers, so we’re go­ing to have to do a good job de­fen­sively for sure.”

Games are sched­uled for Satur­day at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) and Sun­day at 11 a.m. (women) and 1 p.m. (men) at Sul­li­van Field­house.

T.J. COLELLO/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Guard Natasha Roach of the Cape Bre­ton Ca­pers women’s bas­ket­ball team has been a de­fen­sive main­stay in her four sea­sons. The Ca­pers host the Me­mo­rial Sea-Hawks this week­end for their fi­nal games of the term.

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