Experienced Roster for The King’s University Eagles Has Sights Set on Playoff Spot

Anstice, Brian
Brian Anstice, left, and the TKU Eagles have their sights set on the playoffs this season in the ACAC. (Source: Megan Roth – Eckville Echo) (Header: The King’s University)

EDMONTON, Alta. — If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.

The 2019-20 basketball season is right around the corner, and we’re here to help you get set for what will surely be an incredible journey.

While we’re still looking back on an incredible 2018-19 season, one that saw two teams win their first-ever National Championships in school history, it’s also the perfect time to look ahead. The 2019-20 season promises to deliver a heightened level of excitement, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new campaign.

To get fans across the country ready for the new season, we’ve taken on a challenge that hasn’t been done before. In the coming weeks, we will preview every team from coast to coast ahead of the 2019-20 season.

That’s 111 different programs, if you’re keeping a tally.

From August 8th through to October 6th, every team will be previewed in some capacity. For institutions that have both men’s and women’s basketball, a separate preview piece will be done for each team.

Rosters will be dissected and a look back at the year that was will help us determine what the team looks like this time around as every team begins with a blank slate in the standings.

Without further adieu, here is today’s preview on The King’s University Eagles women’s basketball program.

2018-19 in Review

Last season was one full of ups and downs for the Eagles. They were competitive most nights out, but their final record would indicate otherwise. However, a deeper look into the 2018-19 season would reveal a handful of games that could have easily gone in favour of the Eagles when the final buzzer sounded.

At year’s end, the Eagles missed the ACAC Playoffs after posting a record of 5-19 overall. They finished in sixth-place in the tough ACAC North Division, missing the post-season as a result. The Eagles went just 2-8 over the final 10 games of the season, limping to the finish.

On the surface, their record may raise some red flags. Take a dive into their results and you’ll find that several of their contests could have easily gone in their favour.

“Out of the 24 games played, we held the lead our were tied in 14 of them going into the 3rd quarter,” said Head Coach Brian Anstice. “Our record was 5-19, but we were only behind on 10 occasions at half.”

The Eagles had seven of their losses decided by single digits, a group of games that includes two contests against the ACAC silver medalist Keyano College Huskies. Any of those seven games could have very well gone in favour of TKU, and their record could have been considerably different.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, Anstice and his staff will rely on their veteran returning class to guide the team on their quest for a post-season berth. While they lose some production by way of their leading scorer, the Eagles do return their top two rebounding forwards, both of whom will be looking to build off last year’s performances.

Who’s Gone?

From last year’s team, the Eagles lose five players heading into 2019-20. Two players saw significant action, while two more were used in limited action. The fifth and final player gone from last year’s team was a red-shirt and didn’t see the court in regular season action.

The most notable graduate for the Eagles is fifth-year player Marta Burchett (Newberg, OR). Burchett was the team’s leading scorer last season, capping off her collegiate career with an average of 10.3 points per game. She had 11 games with double-digit points, and she was the only player for the Eagles to average double-digit points per game for the year.

On top of her point per game average, Burchett posted 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.4 steals per contest. Burchett was an impact on both ends of the floor for the Eagles, and her on-court production and leadership will both be missed this season.

Rosemanie James (Spruce Grove, Alta.) is another significant loss for the Eagles from last year’s roster in terms of players with experience. James made 23 appearances over the course of the year, 22 of which were starts. Over her 23 appearances, James averaged 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, but was limited to just 19.6% shooting from the floor.

Others who have graduated from the program are Amanda De Waal (Abbotsford, BC), Kennedy Conn (Beaumont, Alta.), and Brooke-Lynn Manning (Spruce Grove, Alta.). Manning was a red-shirt last season and didn’t take to the court as a first-year student-athlete, while both Conn and De Waal were used in limited action.

The losses of both Burchett and James will leave two holes in the starting lineup that Anstice will need to fill. Fortunately, the Eagles have a talented returning class that will help make the transition an easier one.

Who’s Back?

While the Eagles lose their top scorer from last year’s team, they do return four key contributors on both ends of the floor that will bring both talent and experience with them to the court. In total, the Eagles return nine student-athletes from last year’s 5-19 team, three of whom were regular starters.

In 2019-20, the Eagles have a player who could very well be the breakout star of the season in the ACAC. Kenna Jacobsen (Sherwood Park, Alta.) had herself a strong season in 2018-19, but really hit her stride over the last six games of the season. Jacobsen closed out the year by recording six straight double-digit scoring games, averaging 15.7 points per game over that stretch.

For reference, Jacobsen averaged 7.8 points per game for the full season.

In 2019-20, Jacobsen will take on an expanded role with the Eagles, and given the way she closed last season, TKU fans have to be excited for what’s ahead. Jacobsen also averaged 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game last season while shooting 34.9% from the floor.

At the point guard position, the Eagles return fourth-year guard Hope DeBruyn (Chilliwack, BC). Last season, DeBruyn made eight stars while appearing in all 24 regular season games. She averaged 3.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game while shooting 24.1% from the field. This season, DeBruyn figures to be a regular in the starting five, and the increase in minutes should lead to an increase in production.

On the heels of a breakout season in 2018-19, forward Gaddiel Kamuanya is ready to help lead The King’s University Eagles to the post-season in 2019-20. (Source: Geri Anstice – gerianstice.smugmug.com/browse)

Up front is where the strength of the Eagles can be found. The pair of Gaddiel Kamuanya (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.) and Brittany Veldman (Lethbridge, Alta.) give the Eagles a strong one-two punch inside on the glass, and one could make the case for them being the best tandem in the North Division.

Both Kamuanya and Veldman finished tied for the team lead in rebounding a season ago, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game apiece. Their rebounding performances over the course of the season were quite similar. Veldman recorded six or more rebounds in 18 games, while Kamuanya did her one better by recording six-plus on 19 occasions.

On offense, Kamuanya averaged 7.8 points per game on 30.7% shooting, while Veldman posted 6.0 points per contest on 34.7% shooting from the field. The pair work well together on the floor, and they give the Eagles a dual threat in the paint on both ends of the court.

The Eagles will have a veteran squad on the court this season with nine players back from last season. Add in their recruiting class that features some up-and-coming talent, and a former talent turned coach, and the Eagles have their sights set squarely on a playoff spot.

Incoming Talent

In total, the Eagles have five new recruits joining the program this year, and all of them hail from either Alberta or British Columbia. In addition to their five player recruits, their biggest recruit of the off-season will join the coaching staff after a standout collegiate career.

Torey Hill joins Anstice’s staff behind the bench as an Assistant Coach, and she will work directly with their post players. Hill is a two-time All-Canadian, and was a part of the NAIT Ooks team that won the bronze medal at the 2016 CCAA Women’s Basketball National Championships.

On the court, two of their five recruits are standouts from Alberta. Britney Vande Munt (Lethbridge, Alta.) comes to the Eagles after a successful high school career. She was named the co-recipient of the 2A Player of the Year award in the province of Alberta for her efforts last season.

In Vande Munt, the Eagles are getting a player who adds a ton of length and athleticism to the lineup. Along with that, Vande Munt’s shooting range extends to three point range, allowing the Eagles to stretch the floor and gives them a threat from beyond the arc.

The Eagles also add Kelsey MacPherson (Sherwood Park, Alta.) to the mix in the back court. Equipped with good court vision and ball handling skills, MacPherson gives the Eagles another strong guard in the back court rotation, adding more depth to a strong returning core and recruiting class.

With five new faces on the roster this season, the Eagles are optimistic for the future of the program. Alongside their strong returning group, Coach Anstice and his staff have their sights set on bigger and better things in 2019-20.

Despite their losing record at the end of last year, things could have been vastly different for the Eagles. Their competitiveness and close results have given them a new level of confidence heading into the new campaign.

Equipped with a veteran roster, one that includes a two-time All-Canadian now on the bench working with their post players, the Eagles will have a talented group leading the way. Their strength lies in the front court, without question. Guard play will determine how far they will go this season.

The Eagles have their sights set on one of the four playoff spots in the always-competitive North Division in 2019-20. They’ve put in the work over the summer, now it’s time to see if they can flip some of those close results in their favour down the stretch when the fourth quarter rolls around.

Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.

– T. Bennett

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