The UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team is undergoing a culture change.
After a 2-18 season, there’s optimism for the coming Atlantic University Sport season under new bench boss Greg Gould.
“He’s really taught us, as a team, we are able to win,” said Laura Power, a second-year guard from St. John’s.
“It’s really exciting. With this new year and the new team, everyone is really positive, so we have a lot of high hopes for this year.”
The Panthers tipoff the season tonight when they host the Dalhousie Tigers at 6 p.m.
UPEI is coming off a 4-5 pre-season, which included a couple of close losses. Gould said he has witnessed continued progress since September and hopes to build a winning program.
Watching film from last year, he saw players hanging their heads after they got behind. That won’t happen this year.
“I think the kids have started to believe now even when we get behind that doesn’t mean we’re going to lose,” Gould said Thursday before practice.
“From day one I’ve tried to change the culture to the idea that you can win.”
The other key component is work ethic.
“Win or lose, I think we’re going to play hard right to the end,” Gould said. “I think this group of players right now believe they can win and they want to win.”
For that to happen they will have to cut down on the 85 points per game they allowed last season and reduce their turnovers.
Gould said the team did a good job shooting free throws and he would like to see them attack the basket more to get teams in foul trouble. It would also help their capable shooters see more open shots as defences collapse in the paint to defend slashers.
It is running a motion offence and has balanced scoring.
The first few weeks will be important as the team tries to send a message to the rest of the league that a trip to the Island doesn’t come with a guarantee win.
“Once we get a few wins under our belt it’s definitely going to build our confidence,” Power said.
AUS Women’s Basketball
u What - Eight teams play a 20-game schedule.
u Teams - Saint Mary’s, Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, St. F.X., UNB, UPEI and Memorial.
u Season Opener - The UPEI Panthers host the Dalhousie Tigers tonight at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.
u Past Champions -
2011, Cape Breton
2010, Cape Breton
2009, Cape Breton
2006, Cape Breton
2004, Cape Breton
u Pre-Season CIS Rankings -
2. Fraser Valley
5. Saint Mary’s
9. Wilfrid Laurier