MONCTON, N.B. — The 2017-18 season was a tough one to say the least for the Crandall Chargers.
Crandall went just 1-17 over the course of the season, and they didn’t pick up their win until the third-last game of the year against the UNBSJ Seawolves. On February 17th, the Chargers went on the road and came away with a convincing 73-51 victory over the Seawolves to get into the win column and end their 15-game losing streak to start the season.
While they would lose their next two contests, the Chargers managed to avoid finishing the season without a victory.
The Chargers were a young team in 2017-18, boasting just a pair of fourth-year players and a slew of newcomers. Talent will get you to a certain point, but experience wins games in college basketball. Experience helps when you’re in a closely contested game and you need somebody to lean on to help push your team to victory.
With only two fourth-year players last season, Crandall didn’t have that player to lean on when their backs were against the wall.
Fast forward to the 2018-19 season, and things are slowly starting to look up for the Chargers. Their roster has another year of experience under their belts, and that will help them grow as a team and should yield some better results as opposed to last season.
Looking at the shooting numbers for the program, and they had a weird year from the floor. The Chargers shot better as a team from three-point range (32.7%) than they did from the floor (30.3%) on the season. Crandall averaged 18.1 made field goals per outing, and six of those made field goals came from three point range.
A team shooting better overall from three-point range than the floor as a whole isn’t something that you see every day.
Crandall averaged 53.5 points per game as a team over the season. Scoring points wasn’t their strong suit, as they were held below 50 points on eight occasions throughout the season. Their season-high for points was 82, and that came back in November in a loss to the Holland Hurricanes.
The Chargers were a young team in 2017-18, as they had seven players who were first-year players at the collegiate level. They had their share of growing pains as they struggled to get accustomed to their new surroundings and figure out a system. Now that they have a year of experience under their belts, things could be looking up for Crandall University on the women’s basketball side of things.
Given the team’s youth, players were thrown into big roles from the start of the season, and some of them took off running. First year guard Emily Briggs put together a solid debut season at Crandall, finishing second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.1 points per contest. She also led the team in steals, picking up 2.3 steals per game.
Briggs’ shooting was slightly below the team average, as she shot 29.0% from the field for the year. As she gains more experience at the collegiate level and gains more confidence in her shot, her numbers will improve without a doubt.
Despite being a freshman, Briggs was one of just two players to average double-digit points per game for the Chargers (Madison McHatten, 14.7 ppg).
Third year guard Sydnee Balser put together an impressive season in her own right, earning herself Defensive Player of the Year honours at the Crandall University athletics banquet at year’s end. Balser averaged 7.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per contest. Her sister, Kylee Balser, earned Rookie of the Year honours after 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game over her first season with the Chargers.
With their rookies now a season into their respective collegiate careers, things are looking up for the Chargers. However, a return from team MVP Madison McHatten would give the team a massive boost in 2018-19. The team’s roster has yet to be updated, so it’s unclear as to whether or not McHatten is back for her fifth year of eligibility or not.
Last season, McHatten led the Chargers with 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per contest, earning her MVP honours at the awards banquet for the team. Despite missing three games over the course of the season, McHatten posted 20+ points on four occasions, and she closed out the season with four straight double-digit scoring performances to end the year on a high note.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season for the Chargers, and while the roster may remain pretty well intact, players will have another year of experience under their belts and that’s something you just can’t teach in practice. There are no drills that can give you experience in years playing the game. As the Chargers continue to grow, both as individuals and as a team, the results will start to show on the scoreboard.
Patience is key in scenarios like this, as good things come to those who wait. While they likely won’t be a serious threat to the ACAA Championship this year, their young core should remain intact and they could very well climb the standings in the coming years and make a run at the crown.
– T. Bennett