‘If there’s a loose ball, she’s on it’
Roach plays important defensive role with Capers women
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.
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.