Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – A well-planned preseason schedule provides opportunities on multiple fronts for the Griffins to grow as a team in their preparation for the 2019-20 Canada West women's basketball season.
MacEwan will kick off its slate this weekend with a visit to Kelowna, B.C. for two games against the UBC-Okanagan Heat (Friday, 6 p.m. MT and Saturday, 4 p.m. MT). The set will directly simulate what a Canada West road weekend looks like – games on back-to-back nights.
"That's the way our league is structured when we play the same team on back-to-back nights, so it's a good preview, especially for our new players coming in," said head coach Katherine Adams.
"It's important for them to experience what it's like to see the same team back to back and get used to our routine – what it looks like at this level to compete one night and all the preparation that goes into making adjustments for Night 2."
Kelowna is a key destination for the Griffins as four players on the team are from there – Ellie McCarthy, Rachel Hare, Monika Curtis and Becca Curtis. In the Canada West rotation, the Griffins only visit the Heat once every four years, so a preseason trip means a lot to the families of those student-athletes.
"It's great. That's part of the reason why we go out," said Adams. "It's a good opportunity for them to go home and see their friends and families and for them to come and see them play."
MacEwan's non-conference schedule will continue through Atlantic Canada with matches against Acadia (Oct. 18), Holland College (Oct. 19) and Dalhousie (Oct. 20) before wrapping up with a visit to Calgary to face UFV on Oct. 26.
The Griffins will open the Canada West regular season with home games against Mount Royal University on Nov. 1-2.
Adams noted while the Griffins have travelled to Ontario for exhibition games in recent seasons, facing Atlantic University Sport competition will be a new and exciting experience.
"There's two parts to it: one there's some competition we haven't seen before, teams we haven't played against," she said. "It's going to be a new experience for us.
"And secondly, a lot of our athletes haven't had the opportunity to travel that far east, so there's a cultural learning opportunity for us to see a different part of the country and experience that."
Team bonding will also be an important by-product to playing six non-conference games on the road before the regular season begins.
"All of the preseason is a good opportunity for us to integrate the new athletes into the program and see what we're about," agreed Adams. "And as it happens every year, athletes step into new roles and these games provide such a great opportunity for them to figure out what that is and find out who we are this year – what this version of our team's going to look like and where people fit in the big picture."