Natalie Achonwa is one of many Canadian females in the NC-Double-Eh who will be looking to help their teams to dance invite in March. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
This season, since we're looking to expand our overall coverage of the Canadians playing south of the border, we have thought that we would take a look at the women's side of the NC-Double-Eh. The men's side looks to be a very good and productive season and the ladies are no slouches either. With the official women's season less than 24 hours away and in the all consuming quest to give you a new dimension of the Canadian basketball experience, we thought that we'd give you a look at the female ball players that hold Red and White passports that you should keep an eye on to start the season ...
With the start of the NC-Double-Eh season going into fifth gear Friday, I thought I’d do something that not many people who write about basketball in this country will likely not do – take a look at the ladies playing in the NCAA’s Division 1.
Now, I've always been a sucker for a girl who can play basketball ever since I saw my high school crush in her uniform taking a charge (I'd name drop her here but that would be just wrong for me). Any girl that can take a charge, handle the rock like a yo-yo or shoot better than me (like the girl I dated in college which eventually led to a broken nose from her ex, but I digress) was always going to get my attention in some way. Which then leads us here.
I had always wanted to tackle this aspect of the game. I've always found it quite interesting because, like the men’s side, it is incredibly underpublicized and there are many of our Canadian girls playing well enough to earn awards. These ladies take similar paths as their male counterparts (minus the prep school route generally) and earn big time scholarships to big time programs playing big time roles, so it’s only fitting that they also get a little shine for their efforts even if it’s only on a blog like ours and not a major Canadian publication (but I’m working on that). These women toil in relative anonimity on this side of the border and it's high time that they get some attention. So without further adieu, here are a few lady ballers that we think you should keep an eye on this season …
Jamie Ruttle, Canisius
The reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, Ruttle will be looked upon to help shoulder the burden that was left senior Micayla Drysdale graduated. A pre season All MAAC Second Team selection, expect Ruttle to lead the Canadian charge (there are five total Canucks on the team) while also building on her per game averages of 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Yar Shayok, Detroit
Shayok has been a force in the paint for the Titans. She is a two time Horizon League All Defensive Team pick and will look to add a post season appearance. Shayok averaged a league best 10.2 rebounds per game to go with 9.3 points, 1.4 assists, 1.5 steals and a block per game.
Wumi Agunbiade, Duquesne
Agunbiade was a pleasant surprise for Duquesne last season. She was named Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year after averaging 11.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in 26.6 minutes of action. Only missed one start as a freshman, the pre season All A-10 Second Team pick will look to help power the Lady Dukes to an NCAA Tournament ticket this March.
Katherine Plouffe, Marquette
Katherine, one half of the Plouffe twins, is the northern resident looking to make more of an impact this season in Milwaukee. Last season, she averaged a modest 6.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 23 minutes per game. She started 30 of the team’s 33 contests and should shoulder more of the scoring this year with an increase in minutes.
Michelle Plouffe, Utah
Michelle is the southern half of the Plouffe twins (as I hope you guessed). She had a breakout season for the Utes going for 13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 29.5 minutes en route to the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year and All MWC Second Team honors.
Taryn Wicijowski, Utah
Like her teammate Michelle Plouffe, Wicijowski was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009-10 as well as MWC Second Team and was poised for a big 2010-11. But her season was cut short due to injury and was limited to three games before being shut down for the year. After a full recovery, look for Taryn to comeback and show that she is still a dominant player.
Kendra Seto, Michigan
Seto was set to take over as the lead Canadian on a Vermont team that had six players graduate including storied seniors May Kotsopolous and Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2010-11. But that never happened. When head coach Sharon Dawley left for UMass, Seto transferred out and opted for the blue and maize of the Wolverines. Now, after have sat out her transfer year, she should be poised to make an impact on a Michigan team that is looking to make a move in the Big Ten.
Danielle DeGagne, North Dakota State
Dani has been an emerging player for the Bison and this season gives her a chance to really shine. With senior point guard Katie Birkel going down to a season ending knee injury, coach Carolyn DeHoff will move DeGagne to the point full time which will likely mean a large increase in playing time. With eight new players at NDSU look for DeGagne, who averaged 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals last season, to be one of the pillars of the team.
Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame
Achonwa, a Big East All Rookie Team selection is looking to be a major contributor to a Notre Dame team that is ranked #2 in the Associated Press pre season Top 25. Even with a team that returns two the of the best women’s players in Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel, Achonwa will look to improve on her performance last season. She will be sidelined for the first few weeks of the season due to a knee injury though so expect her to return by mid December.
Elle Kerfoot, Seattle
Kerfoot is the leading returning scorer from a team that will look to improve on its 8-22 record before it officially moves to Division 1 next fall. The senior co-captain led the team in assists a year ago and is a pre season All Independent selection.
Kayla Alexander, Syracuse
Alexander has had nothing short of a meteoric rise in a tough as nails Big East Conference. She was a member of the conference’s All Rookie Team in 2009-10 and last year she was named to the First Team leading the team in points (14.8), blocks (91) field goal percentage (549.) and free throw percentage (.766) while also grabbing 6.9 rebounds in only 25.5 minutes per game. This year, she’ll be looked on to help guide the Orange into the Top 25 and is quite possibly a candidate for conference player of the year.
Lauren Buschmann, Vermont
With the departures of several key players for the Catamounts last season, Buschmann emerged as a big time player. She would go on to start 28 of 29 games in the 2010-11 campaign averaging 10 points, 7.1 rebounds which were good for 10th in the America East Conference. This time around, with another season of experience under her belt, look for Buschmann to help lead Vermont up the conference ladder.
Staye tunes throughout the season as we'll be looking to post the ladies games along with the men's in our daily NC-Double-Eh schedule. Also be on the lookout for our periodic looks into the ladies' gams.