Like any coach Ken King would love to see the RDC basketball Queens challenge for an ACAC championship right away.
But since taking over the program in the 2014-15 season he’s put together a plan that will take the Queens to the top and allow them to stay there.
“It was never a plan to create a winning now system,” he said. “We wanted to commit to a plan that was sustainable and would create a core and a continuity in the program. We started the club program this year and we want to move our strongest core players forward year by year, to use in mentorship and leadership roles.
“We don’t want to necessarily recruit players for a year and then have them leave. We want to recruit players who will develop and grow here. It may take an extra year or two but that’s been our commitment since the beginning.”
This year’s edition of the Queens has a solid base of veterans with six players back from last season, three transfers from Olds College and Hanna Foley of Conroe, Tex., who played two years at Dallas Christian College.
“This is the most veterans I’ve had in the last two years,” said King. “The girls will make an instant impact as far as experience and leadership goes.
“We have a real solid base to start with and the standard is being set by those players and enforced by those players.”
Imports Emily White and Eva Bonde from Denmark and fifth-year guard Dedra Janvier lead the returnees.
Six-foot-two White is coming off a solid rookie season that saw her named to the South Division Second All-Conference team and she was the South Division’s rookie of the year. She scored 12.7 points per game and had a record 46 blocked shots.
“When I first talked with Emily she made a commitment to stay here for at least two years and despite interest from across Canada she is committed to our program. She wants to help build it in the positive direction she sees it going.
“Eva and Dedra also play a big part in the program. They bring a good level of maturity and basketball experience.”
Bonde averaged 7.2 points per game, while Janvier was one of the top three-point shooters in the conference, averaging 40.8 per cent. She finished with 12.9 points per game.
Guards Lauren Bailey, Keitlyn Williams and Kaylee Kuba also return. Maya Parker of Calgary, Kiana Mintz of Medicine Hat and Mary Krause of Wetaskiwin transferred in from Olds.
“We really liked Kiana coming out of high school, but she decided to go to Olds last year, so we’re excited to have her here this year,” said King. “As for Maya I’ve liked the way she played from the first time I saw her two years ago.
“And Mary is one of the hardest workers we have. She will out-work you and elbow you all with a smile on her face. All three will make serious contributions for us.”
Foley is a shooting guard and averaged 18.5 points per game with Dallas Christian.
“She brings a good balance of offence and defence to the guard spot,” said King. “She’s athletic and bring experience after playing two years at college.”
King also has six first-year players on the roster, including Kirsten Loney and Madi Nimmo from Hunting Hills and Jennifer Huseby from Eckville.
“All three played with our U18 club team,” said King. “We’re excited to have players from this area who are legitimate players.”
Kayla Guillett of Medicine Hat, Riley Baquie of Didsbury, who played at Olds Koinonia, and Brooke Kirkpatrick of Archbishop Jordan in Sherwood Park round out the roster.
“Kayla’s game is similar to Emily’s, while Brooke is one of the nicest recruits I’ve spoken to,” explained King. “The first time I talked with Brooke I knew I wanted her to be part of our program. She has a real positive attitude and comes out of a very, very competitive league, the Edmonton 4A league.”
As for Baquie, the six-foot-six forward could possibly red shirt this season.
“All our first-year players have shown improvement in the short time we’ve been together,” said King. “They’re making for some tough decisions.”
The Queens open their preseason Oct. 29-31 at the SAIT tournament. They face NAIT, The Kings University and Keyano. They host their own tournament Oct. 6-9 and meet Grant MacEwan in a home-and-home series, Oct. 19 in Edmonton and the 21st at RDC.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathloetics.ca