Balance of skills and drive for the playoffs encouraging to coach
St. Clement’s senior girls basketball coach Dave Mizener is looking into the future.
Coming off a poor 2013 season, he’s looking to get his troupe of 13 into shape for their first game of the season, Sept. 30 when the Penguins travel to St. Catharines to challenge Ridley College Tigers.
“It wasn’t our best season, but it wasn’t a great season for us,” he admitted during practice at the North Toronto school. “The year before they won the junior level, but when they reached senior things didn’t pan out the way we had planned.”
Still, with eight Grade 12s and five Grade 11s there’s foresight in the subtext of his roster choices.
“There’s deliberate planning there to make sure there are people who have played senior basketball and they’ll be familiar with the level of play next year,” he said.
Members of that junior team that made an impact in CISAA Division 1 were current seniors Claire Chadwick and Chelsea Wallace, as well as Grade 11 student Zoe Astritis.
The girls are electric in their conversation, recalling their victories from two years ago, and amped about a new season that sees them face midtown rivals like Bishop Strachan and Havergal.
Though Wallace flat out denies BSS any privilege of being a rivalry.
Still, Astritis is one of the first to address the past, and does so warmly.
“We played together when I was in Grade 9 and they were in Grade 10,” she said. “We had a really good team, so hopefully we’ll have that going on again.”
The troupe will have to work on their inside game.
“Probably getting the ball in the net,” Chadwick said. “Working the ball into the post more, and trying to get the high-percentage shots in.”
Mizener echoed those sentiments, but added the small amount of time to hone those skills makes it challenging.
“It’s always lots of things,” he said. “I think one of the challenges of coaching is the season is so short: we only have a few weeks to put a team together, practise and play at a high level of basketball.
“We have to spend more time on the types of systems yet.”
But having players who are flexible helps.
“The team is such that we obviously have several positions but the skill level is quite level, and so it really is a matter of getting the right person or the right combination of players on the court at once,” Mizener said. “The girls do have to be able to rotate through different positions.”
Back to the midtown rivalries, Chadwick isn’t too concerned. However, it’s the outside schools that have red-alert status.
“There’s a strong rivalry between our schools, but the better schools are boarding schools because they practice together every day, and we don’t have that opportunity,” she said.
Ridley falls under that category, so the St. Clement’s girls will have playing upstart in their playbook.