Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – A week after limiting UNBC's terrific trio of Maria Mongomo, Vasiliki Louka and Madison Landry – all top-16 Canada West scorers – the MacEwan Griffins head into an even tougher test.
In a visit to Winnipeg, they must find a way to contain reigning Canada West MVP Antoinette Miller, who has upped her game to another atmospheric level, now averaging 25.9 points per contest. The teams will square off on Friday (5 p.m. MT) and Saturday (4 p.m. MT, both on Canada West TV).
"She's a very, very talented player and impacts the game in so many ways," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "She's leading the conference in scoring, but she's also up there in assists and rebounds. She impacts the game in so many ways, you have to gear up to prepare for her.
"You're not going to stop her, but you have to limit her as much as possible because she makes the players around her better."
While they don't own the blueprint on how to stop Miller (who does?), the Griffins at least have growing confidence that they can shut top players down. Mongomo, Louka and Landry saw their numbers take a hit as the tenacious Griffins held UNBC to just 107 points in two games Nov. 24-25 and won both.
"Last weekend's games have set us up well for this weekend," said Adams. "We're going into a different situation, but similar in that they really rely on a couple of players to make stuff happen. We game-planned for that last weekend, so our players have confidence that we have a game plan and can stick to a game plan and have it be effective."
Winnipeg also boasts Faith Hezekiah, who is fifth in conference scoring (17.7 ppg). Their overall offence averages 70.3 ppg, seventh-best in Canada West.
"We know we're going to give up scores," said Adams. "We know we're not going to shut players down. It's unrealistic to think that we're going to hold Antoinette Miller to four points, but there's certainly confidence we can stick to a game-plan to try to limit her opportunities as much as possible."
Defensively, the Griffins (3-5) are the third-stingiest team in the conference, allowing just 62.9 points a game. Winnipeg (6-4) is no slouch themselves in that area, sitting sixth at 64.9. If you recall the Wesmen's visit to MacEwan last season, the teams had a pair of true all-out gritty defensive wars on the court.
Offence has been the Achilles' heel of the young Griffins this season (ranked 15th in Canada West with 59.5 ppg), but there were stretches against UNBC last weekend where they were knocking down shots with the best of them.
"Offence has been a work in progress – trying to learn and understand what are good shots and where we can get better shots," said Adams. "We did find a bit of a flow and some of that came out of our defence where we able to secure possession and attack, get some transition looks and move the ball pretty effectively.
"If you look from Game 1 of the season till now, we've definitely grown in that area. The nice thing this past weekend is we started hitting some shots we maybe haven't seen fall in previous weekends."