Loralyn Murdoch is in a favourable position for a coach.
The UNBC women’s basketball head coach has limited vacancies for next season’s squad. But competition for those positions is high.
Eleven members of this past season’s Northern Timberwolves are eligible to return in the fall. Murdoch has said she’d like to carry a roster of 14 players.
Twenty-two players hit the Northern Sport Centre court on Saturday and Sunday for the team’s identification camp.
“I don’t have a lot of spots available so I just bring in a whole bunch of girls, but I was quite happy with the girls that did come,” she said. “They worked pretty hard, and I’ve got some decisions to be made now.”
Of the new faces participating in drills on the weekend, the most noticeable may have been forward Sarah Moxley, who previously played for the Sheridan Institute of Technology Bruins in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association. The five-foot-10 Toronto native has applied to UNBC, hoping to join the Timberwolves for her fifth and final year of CCAA eligibility. Moxley took a year off playing in the CCAA after helping the Bruins finish runner-up to the host Saint-Foy (Que.) Dynamiques at the 2009 CCAA national championship. En route to nationals that season, Moxley received Most Valuable Player recognition in leading Sheridan to the OCAA provincial title.
“She’s had a year off, she wasn’t in the best shape in her life,” Murdoch said. “But just the experience and the confidence she brought to the court, it stood out right away.”
Three other recruits eligible to suit up for the Timberwolves next season made the trip Cassidy Osterling of St. Francis (Calgary), Andrea Eidsvik of Byrne Creek (Burnaby) and Sarah Robin of Prince Rupert.
“Because (Moxley) is an experienced player, she’s a mature player, she wasn’t nervous like the other girls were on the first day,” Murdoch said. “There was lots of nerves with the other young ones and (players) coming out of Grade 12.
“My second years played well. They played like they have a year of experience. The first-year Grade 12 girls, they have their work cut out for them, but I think they worked really hard and they showed quite well.”
Murdoch said she’d be looking at a few more recruits this month.
The Timberwolves are coming off their most successful regular season in their 11-year B.C. Colleges Athletic Association history, finishing atop the 10-team league standings with a 17-1 record. But they fell short of last month’s CCAA national championship tournament in Kelowna following a pair of losses at provincials in Nanaimo.
One of the team’s returning players, injured forward Kady Dandeneau, watched from the sidelines during team drills on the weekend. Having missed five straight regular-season games and both provincial contests with an injury to her left knee, Dandeneau continues to play the waiting game until she can get lined up with a surgeon. Once surgery is complete, she’ll need about six months to recover.
As part of the identification camp, the Timberwolves discussed their off-season training program and the importance of staying in shape over the spring and summer.
“(Prince George Track and Field Club president) Tom Masich was there yesterday talking to the girls about the expectations of our summer training programs, and if you’re going to come back in September, what kind of shape you need to be,” said Murdoch, noting that she reiterates the same points during practice. “But to have Tom there, who’s been working with the girls on their cardio to really pound that home, I think was very, very important.”
Murdoch said her players will train with Masich three days a week.
“You can’t even put a price tag on how valuable Tom is to this program,” she said. “The girls really respect him, they work hard for him and it’s been a really good situation for us.”