UPEI Panthers forward Jane McLaughlin, right, guards Victoria Barbour during Tuesday’s practice.
©Jason Malloy/TC Media
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Jane McLaughlin isn’t the biggest or most skilled basketball player, but she has a will to win that is appreciated by her UPEI Panthers teammates and coaches.
The five-foot-10 forward often drew the assignment of guarding the opposition’s biggest post player in 2015-16. It has changed this season with the addition of centre Carolina Del Santo, but McLaughlin still finds herself undersized against some of her opponents.
“I just go in there and try to be feisty,” McLaughlin said after Tuesday’s practice.
Guarding bigger players is something she has become accustomed after facing larger girls for years.
“I wouldn't say I am a super skilled player, so I was just happy to contribute that way,” she said in using the word Mucker to describe herself as a player.
The 21-year-old said she tries to use her quickness to her advantage by running in transition and making the bigger players work on defence.
Head coach Greg Gould called the Panthers co-captain a “competitor.”
“Jane doesn’t back down from anybody,” he said. “She actually likes the challenge, I think, of playing against bigger players.”
McLaughlin was born in Saint John, N.B., and lived the first eight years of her life in Grand Manan, N.B. She lived the next seven in Fortune and then went Halifax Grammar School for her three years of high school.
“I just felt drawn back home,” she said of her choice to come to UPEI. Family and “the nursing (program) here really pulled me back.”
She had also played on provincial teams with Kiera Rigby since the two were 11 years old. McLaughlin said the two decided to be teammates and roommates and joined the Panthers for the 2013-14 season.
But after one season McLaughlin decided not to return. She sat out the year and did some travelling.
“I kind of wasn't sure about basketball, wasn't sure about school.”
But it was not the end of McLaughlin’s basketball career. She rejoined the team for practices in the second semester and return to game action in 2015-16.
“I missed it,” she admitted. “It was a good break though. I definitely think if you’re struggling with school or basketball, time away brings you back to the game.”
She said the sport is part of the university experience for her and she feels complete again.
She plays hard in practice. She plays hard in games. She doesn't give any ground. She wants to win and she brings that kind of toughness and winning effort to her teammates. UPEI Panthers head coach Greg Gould regarding forward Jane McLaughlin
McLaughlin, who wants to be a midwife after finishing her nursing degree, said the addition of Del Santo has helped her this season. She doesn’t expend as much energy on the defensive end and has allowed her to step out from the paint.
“I can spot up and shoot more. I have worked on my shooting game a bit more and feel more confident.”
McLaughlin is hitting 31 per cent of her three-point attempts this year after connecting on 17 per cent last year. She has also made 88 per cent of her free throws.
“There’s a lot of things she brings to our team and the most important one is the desire to win,” Gould said. “She brings the toughness that’s hard to teach.”
BY the numbers
8 Number of games Jane McLaughlin has played this season for the UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team.
9.1 Points per game
7.3 Rebounds per game
2.1 Assists per game
33.8 Field-goal percentage
30.8 Three-point percentage
88.2 Free-throw percentage