New Stars Ready to Lead Rouge et Or in Defense of National Silver Medal

Marois, Sarah-Jane (2)
Sarah-Jane Marois is one of four starters who won’t be back with the Rouge et Or this season, leaving holes up and down the Laval roster. (Source: Sportsnet) (Header: Laval Athletics)

QUEBEC CITY, Que. — 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 women’s basketball program for the Laval Rouge et Or.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season was one to remember for the Laval Rouge et Or. After rolling through the RSEQ in the regular season and playoffs, the Rouge et Or had their sights set on a National Championship. While they ultimately fell just short of that goal, there was still a lot for Laval to be proud of.

Over the course of the regular season, the Rouge et Or occupied the top spot in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. Undefeated through to the final game of the season, the Rouge et Or had a perfect regular season within reach. The McGill Martlets had other ideas, and they played the role of spoiler on their home floor.

McGill squeaked out a 53-52 win over Laval to put an end to their perfect season big. The Rouge et Or finished the regular season with a 15-1 record. They were 10 points ahead of the second-place Concordia Stingers.

Fast forward to the U Sports Women’s Basketball Final Eight, the Rouge et Or still had their sights set on a National Championship after a stellar regular season and post-season in the RSEQ. In their way was a gauntlet of three teams from the OUA that Laval had to get through to win the Championship.

In the quarterfinals, the Rouge et Or took on the host Ryerson Rams. Laval continued their strong play with a 73-51 win over the Rams to punch their ticket to the semifinals. There, they took on the Ottawa Gee-Gees with a spot in the title game on the line. The Rouge et Or found themselves in a much closer game this time around, but they came away with the 60-56 win to earn a shot at the National Championship.

The Championship Game saw Laval take on the McMaster Marauders. Both teams were regular fixtures atop the U Sports Top 10 rankings all season long, so it was only fitting that they met for the title. Laval jumped out to an early lead, taking a 33-27 advantage into the locker room at halftime. In the second half, the Marauders overtook the Rouge et Or and ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter for the 70-58 win.

While the final result didn’t go their way, the Rouge et Or have a ton to be proud of after last season. A National Silver Medal is something to hold your head high about, and their dominance of the RSEQ didn’t go unnoticed all season long. Add in the fact that Sarah-Jane Marois (Quebec City, Que.) was named the U Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, and you could say it was a pretty good year for the Rouge et Or.

Looking ahead to the new campaign, the roster for Laval will look considerably different than it did last year. Gone are the team’s top three scorers overall, and a group of four players that accounted for more than half of the team’s offensive production. While they have key veteran back in the mix, they will look to their newcomers to help shoulder the load on offense going forward.

Who’s Gone?

After finishing as the National Silver Medalists last season, the Rouge et Or will look considerably different in 2019-20. Gone are four of the team’s top scorers, a group that accounted for more than 45 points per game last season. There will be holes to fill up and down the Laval roster this season with the departures from last year.

Arguably the biggest loss for Laval is the aforementioned Sarah-Jane Marois, the reigning U Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. Last season, Marois was a consistent force on both ends of the floor. She finished second on the Rouge et Or in scoring, averaging 13.0 points per game while shooting 44.8% from the field, 41.0% from three-point range, and 94.6% (35-of-37) from the free throw line.

Marois also posted 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest.

Also gone from last year’s team is Jane Gagne (Quebec City, Que.). Gagne led the Rouge et Or with an average of 13.6 points per game last season. She shot an even 50.0% from the field and 30.4% from three-point range throughout the year. Gagne added 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest to go along with her scoring production.

Claudia Emond (Saguenay, Que.) is the third and final departing player who averaged double-digit points a season ago. The Saguenay native posted 12.1 points per game to go along with 3.8 rebounds and a team-best 4.5 assists. Emond shot 46.8% from the floor and 38.1% from three-point range over her 15 regular season appearances.

The fourth player gone from last year’s team is Naomi Lavalle (Drummondville, Que.). Lavalle averaged 16.7 minutes per game while appearing in all 16 regular season contests. She averaged 4.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a reserve last season.

With three of the four players having averaged double-digit points last season as prominent fixtures in the starting five, there will be opportunities aplenty for the 2019-20 edition of the Rouge et Or. Laval’s returning group will look to step into expanded roles this season, and they will be led by a pair of intriguing veterans who bring their share of talent to the table.

Who’s Back?

The losses for the Rouge et Or from last year’s team are well-documented. With over 45 points per game of offensive production out the door, others will need to step up to try and fill in the gaps on the roster. Fortunately for Head Coach Guillaume Giroux, Laval return a handful of players who will look to expand their respective roles this season.

In terms of returnees, Khaleann Caron-Goudreau (Gatineau, Que.) has the look of a player who could ascend to stardom in the RSEQ this season. After transferring from the Texas Longhorns, Caron-Goudreau will enter 2019-20 looking to build off a strong 2018-19 campaign, one that saw her excel of both ends of the floor.

Last season, Caron-Goudreau posted 8.1 points and a team-best 9.4 rebounds per contest while also adding 1.4 assists and 1.7 blocks. She shot 41.2% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range. With her ability to impact the game on the glass on both ends of the floor and with her shooting ability from long range, Caron-Goudreau can stretch the floor and score at all three levels.

Carrie-Ann Auger (Trois Rivieres, Que.) is the top returning scorer for the Rouge et Or from last season. Auger averaged 8.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 42.3% from the floor and 43.1% from beyond the arc. Auger appeared in all 16 regular season games in 2018-19, making just two starts along the way. After primarily being used as a reserve last year, look for Auger to be a regular fixture in the starting five this time around.

The likes of Lea Dominique (Quebec City, Que.), Marie-Pier Champagne (Quebec City, Que.), and Kim Letang (Gatineau, Que.) will all look to expand their roles in 2019-20. All three players averaged under 5.0 points per game last season, but with the departures atop the production lists, all three will be looked upon to take on bigger roles this season.

Dominique averaged 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last year, shooting 46.6% from the field in the process. Champagne added 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting an effective 52.5% from the field and 50.0% from three-point range.

Letang came off the bench last season, averaging 7.6 minutes per game over her 16 regular season appearances. She posted 2.3 points per game on 36.4% shooting from the field.

The returning group will have ample opportunities to elevate their game early in the season. It sounds like a broken record, but that’s the biggest story line heading into the 2019-20 season for Laval. Who will step up to fill in the gaps with the lost production? Only time will tell.

Incoming Talent

For the Rouge et Or, their incoming recruits will see their share of floor time this season as they try to figure out their rotation. Laval has added four players in their 2019 recruiting class thus far, two of which bring with them a wealth of experience from the RSEQ that will bolster the rotation for the Rouge et Or.

Maude Archambault and Elise Roy come to the Rouge et Or after playing at other RSEQ institutions last season.

Archambault comes to Laval after playing last season with the Bishop’s Gaiters. With the Gaiters, Archambault was one of just two players to start all 16 regular season games. She led the team with an average of 13.8 points per game on 28.3% shooting from the field. Archambault added 4.3 rebounds per contest while averaging 36.8 minutes of floor time per night out.

Archambault, Maude
The addition of Maude Archambault brings experience and talent to the Laval rotation in 2019-20. (Source: Bishop’s Gaiters)

Roy transferred to the Rouge et Or after suiting up for the Concordia Stingers. Roy averaged 30.4 minutes per game last season over her 14 regular season appearances, 13 of which were starts. She posted 3.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.

Both Archambault and Roy will add a ton of experience to the rotation for Laval, while also helping to boost the talent of the roster.

The pair of Zhara Wajih and Leslie Makosso add youth to the mix as first-year players from France. Both players bring quickness and toughness to the roster, and Coach Giroux is excited to add them to the mix to begin their collegiate careers.

Laval went out and added players who can help the program, both now and into the future. With Archambault and Roy bringing a wealth of experience at the RSEQ level to the table, the Rouge et Or are hoping that they can help to fill the gaps left by their four departing starters.

After making it to the National Championship game last season, the Laval Rouge et Or will look to make it back in 2019-20 with the hopes of winning it all.

If the Rouge et Or want to make it back to the title game, they will need to come together as a group early on. With several players in new roles this season, and a handful of new faces on the roster, the start of the season will likely have its share of growing pains. With that said, the veterans know what it takes to win at the highest level, and they will look to guide the younger players through the tougher times.

Laval knows what it takes to make it to the finals, and they will look to advance there in 2019-20 and avenge last year’s loss to McMaster.

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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