Ken King was behind the eight ball before he even arrived at RDC to take over the Queens basketball team.
King wasn’t hired until late May when most players had already committed for the 2014-15 season.
However, thanks to some hard work by former coach Mike Woollard, before he left, and by King himself, over the phone, the Ontario native is pleased with his roster.
“Once I got the job, we did a lot of work as a coaching staff to contact all the players Mike recruited as soon as possible. If we had any shot this year we needed to secure the girls coming in. I’m pretty satisfied with the girls we have out. The players out of high school are some of the hardest working girls I’ve ever seen.”
King did lose a couple players who had indicated they were interested in the program, plus a couple of vets, who decided not to return.
“One of the recruits decided to rodeo, so that wasn’t a big thing and as for returning players there were some who weren’t going to return anyway and a couple of others who weren’t comfortable with what we were doing. Others came out but didn’t fit and mutually parted ways.
“We now have 14 girls and they are our 14 girls and we’re comfortable.”
King does have four players back with point guard Gillian Griffin and shooting guard Dedra Janvier both playing significant minutes last season. Maddie Klootwyk and Janelle Kakakaway were both with the team but injured for most of the season.
“In some ways it’s good not to have too many returnees,” said King. “If we’re going to change it might as well be 10-fold and make sure we do it right and we have the right people here.”
One of the most important parts of the team will be point guard with Griffin battling newcomers Morgan Dool, Brenna Seymour and Cassidy Hollingsworth for a starting spot.
“The nice thing is it’s a competitive atmosphere,” said King. “The four know we have two spots open and they’re battling to grab them. As well Sydney (Daines), once she isn’t a dual athlete, can play any position and could challenge for that position.”
Daines is also playing with the Queens soccer team.
Klootwyk gives the Queens some height as does newcomers Aneca Fretts, Ann Stewart and Lindsay Thurber grad Emma Newton.
Both Fretts, who played for Briercrest Bible College five years ago, and Stewart are over six-foot- while Newton,, is listed at five-foot-11.
“We have a bit of height, now the main concern is to get that height down the floor,” said King, who like his rookies is trying to learn the ACAC.
“Any preseason games and scrimmages we have are important for the first-year girls and myself,” he said. “The girls need to learn the physicality, along with the intensity and speed of the game and I’m trying to watch as many games as I can to learn western basketball.”
Other players on the roster are forward Amber Smith and Bailey Sjogren and guard Kennedy Burgess.
King wants a hard-working team that “won’t be out worked.
“I can’t say if we play a speed game or slow it down. It depends on who we’re playing. Our main focus is to work hard or harder than the other team.”
One thing King will see in the ACAC is a lot of full court presses.
“The way I look at that is it gives us a chance to get layups,” he said. “We need to break the press confidently and strong.”
The Queens faced Lakeland in a scrimmage situation this week and will look to add a couple more scrimmages before they play in the Showcase tournament, Oct. 2-4 in Edmonton.
The scrimmage didn’t matter in terms of winning or losing but was good for the Queens, said King.
“I like the preseason and not necessarily to win,” he said. “Even in a scrimmage it’s good to think you may have lost as it shows us things we need to work on.”
King put together a solid assistant coaching staff in Dave Kolesnik, Jess Albrecht and J’Anna Aitchison with Robyn Denny the strength and conditioning coach and Rachel Edge the manager. Caitlin Rye and Keri Inkster are the trainers.