New Look, New Faces for the New Brunswick Reds in 2018-19

Basambombo, Mikitski
Former Vanier College forward Mikitshi Basambombo is one of several newcomers to join the University of New Brunswick Reds ahead of the 2018-19 season. (Source: The Daily Gleaner) (Header: Times & Transcript)

FREDERICTON, N.B. — Both on and off the court, the New Brunswick Reds will look vastly different in 2018-19.

Off the court, the University of New Brunswick athletics department unveiled a new brand for the department, shedding the word ‘varsity from their nickname. Once known as the Varsity Reds, teams at the university will now be known as the University of New Brunswick Reds.

The logo features a large letter ‘R’ in a circle with the words ‘University of New Brunswick’ inside the circle.

On the court, there were several personnel changes that took place as well.

Following the 2017-18 season, the women’s basketball team saw six players graduate from the program, leaving several roster spots to be filled in the off-season by head coach Jeff Speedy and the rest of the coaching staff. The coaches went coast-to-coast to fill their roster, landing players from as far west as Calgary, while they also secured commitments from players in Regina, Saskatchewan and Montreal, Quebec.

With opportunities aplenty for players to step up this season, it should be an exciting one for the Reds as they look to contend for an AUS title in 2018-19.

The 2017-18 season saw the Reds finish with a 10-10 record in AUS play, a record that put them in sixth place in the regular season standings. It gave them a spot in the AUS Championship tournament, but also gave them an uphill climb as they would have to go through some tough competition if they wanted to get to the U Sports Final 8 Tournament.

In the quarter-finals, the Reds took on the third-seeded UPEI Panthers. The Reds gave the Panthers all that they could handle, but their season came to a close with a 76-71 loss.

The Panthers would go on to lose to the Acadia Axewomen in the finals of the AUS Championships.

With the loss to the Panthers, the Reds saw their season come to a close. Even more, it signaled the end of six careers across their roster. Five of the departing players were fifth-year student-athletes: Hannah Currie, Grace Wade, Emily MacLeod, Laura Kaye, and Colleen Daly.

Kaye led the Reds in scoring last season, averaging 12.4 points per game on 39.8% shooting. Currie wasn’t far behind, finishing third on the team in scoring with an average of 10.7 points per game. In total, the Reds had four different players average double-digit points per game over the course of the year.

Back for the Reds in 2018-19 will be point guard Mikaela Dodig, who will be coming off a strong 2017-18 that saw the second-year guard from Bolton, ON emerge as one of the top guards in the league. Dodig was the only player for the Reds to start all 20 games in 2017-18, and she was one of only four players to appear in all 20 contests.

Dodig averaged over 31 minutes per game last season, and put together solid numbers across the board. Her 10.0 points per game were good for the fourth-best mark on the team, while her 3.4 assists per game led the team. Dodig added 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per night out for an all-round solid stat line.

The one knock on Dodig would be ball security. In 2017-18, she committed 3.5 turnovers per game, giving her an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1. If she can improve on her ball control and ball security this season, it will take her game to another level.

In addition to some key role players back in the mix for the Reds this season, head coach Jeff Speedy and his staff went coast-to-coast to bring in recruits to help fill out their roster for the upcoming season. They landed players from as far west as Calgary, AB and Regina, SK, while also landing talented players from close to home on the east coast.

Guard Julia Summers comes to the University of New Brunswick from Calgary’s Bishop-Carroll High School. Summers led her team to a silver medal in the Alberta provincial high school championship tournament, and she was named Carroll’s MVP. Summers and her team went 10-0 during the regular season.

Marley Curwin will have a much shorter move to her new school, joining the Reds from nearby Halifax, NS. She was the starting point guard at Halifax’s Citadel High School. Curwin led the Phoenix to a Halifax Metro High School league title and a Nova Scotia High School championship.

The third guard of the recruiting class is Sydney Teece on Regina, SK. Teece was the captain of the Sheldon-Williams Collegiate Spartans in Regina, and she was selected to take part in the Daytona Homes Saskatchewan Senior Classic, a prestigious event that features 24 of the top players from around the province.

Rounding out the group is forward Mikitshi Basambombo, who recently completed her third year with the Vanier Cheetahs in Montreal. Basambombo picked up several awards over her career with the Cheetahs, including Most Improved Player honours in 2016 and Team MVP in 2017.

Given all that the Reds lost after last season in terms of player personnel, some growing pains are to be expected this season as the newcomers get accustomed to the collegiate game. The recruiting class has talent, and the back court has been reloaded with young talent that will benefit the team moving forwards over the coming years.

The 2018-19 season may yield similar results to that of last season, with the Reds towards the middle of the AUS standings. However, they have assembled a talented roster that should contend for a league title in the coming years and fight their way to the U Sports Final 8 Tournament.

– T. Bennett

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