TORONTO — In life, we need to learn from our losses and come back stronger the next time around.
For the George Brown Huskies, the losses came at the worst possible time in the 2017-18 season. The Huskies finished atop the OCAA East Division at the end of the regular season with a record of 15-2 against league opponents. They were in a great position to contend for the OCAA Championship with the powerhouse Humber Hawks.
However, it was not meant to be.
In the quarter-finals of the OCAA Championships, the Huskies were upset by the Niagara College Knights in a nail-biter, 75-72. The loss sent George Brown to the Consolation Bracket of the event. George Brown rebounded with a win over the Durham Lords to send themselves to the Consolation Finals.
There, the Huskies squared off against the St. Clair Saints in yet another closely contested affair. Things went to overtime, and the Saints prevailed with an 82-75 victory over George Brown to end their season on a high note.
Instead of dwelling on the losses, the Huskies can use them as learning experiences ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. With the bulk of their roster back in Toronto for the upcoming season, George Brown will be looking to make up for the first-round upset last season and make a run at the OCAA Championship.
The Huskies started out the 2017-18 season on quite a roll, winning their first 10 games of the regular season to put the rest of the OCAA on notice. Eight of George Brown’s wins over their 10-game winning streak came by at least 11 points. The Huskies didn’t suffer their first loss of the year until January 23rd, where they dropped a 77-73 decision on the road against the Seneca Sting.
George Brown would rattle off three wins following the loss to the Sting before they would drop another single-digit contest, this time to the St. Lawrence (K) Vikings.
From there, they would enter the post-season on another three game winning streak, with all three wins coming by at least 21 points. The Huskies entered the post-season on a roll, but all of their momentum came to a screeching halt at the hands of Niagara College. The Knights upset the Huskies in the quarter-finals, 75-72, ending George Brown’s hopes of securing a league championship and advancing to the CCAA National Championships.
With Aprille Deus being the only fifth-year player to have graduated from last year’s team, the core group will still be intact for the Huskies in 2018-19 as they look to make a run at the league title.
Deus finished second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.6 points to go along with a team-best 4.7 assists per contest. Those will be big shoes to fill for the Huskies heading into the year, but they have one of the best players in the country on their roster for one more year.
Last season, guard/forward Tianna Sullivan led the OCAA in scoring, averaging 22.0 points per contest. Across all players in the CCAA, Sullivan finished second in the nation in the same category. Sullivan did her damage from inside the three-point arc, hitting on 45.3% of her two-point field goal attempts (134-of-296).
Sullivan was just 2-of-12 from three-point range for the year.
The 5’9” wing from Toronto put up some impressive numbers on offense last season, and she was a model of consistency for the Huskies. Sullivan never scored fewer than 13 points in a game last season, both in league play and the play-offs, and she finished with 13 games with 20+ points.
She went for 30+ points on three occasions, including a 33-point outing against the Centennial Colts back in February.
With the loss of Deus, the likes of Kiyann Grimaldo, Merrissa Moore, and Krystal-Ann Elento will be looked upon to take on expanded roles in 2018-19. Elento will join Sullivan as a fifth-year player this season, and will be asked to lead the younger players while also taking on a bigger role offensively.
Moore was a first-year player in 2017-18 but held her own against OCAA competition. The 5’9” wing from Huntsville, ON averaged 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game off the bench for the Huskies. Moore saw game action in all 17 of George Brown’s regular season games, averaging just over 16 minutes per night out. Given her performance in limited action a season ago, chances are that Moore will see an expanded role that will get her more minutes this season.
With Sullivan being a fifth-year player in 2018-19, Moore can learn from her on both ends of the floor and step into a similar role in the future for the team.
With so many familiar faces back in the mix for the Huskies this season, they will be looking to build off last year’s successful regular season and continue their success into the post-season. Both the men’s and women’s program at George Brown had similar story lines in 2017-18, where they performed rather well in the regular season, only to bow out of the post-season much earlier than expected.
The 2018-19 season brings forth a new challenge for the Huskies, but with one of the country’s best players in the mix in Sullivan, the sky is the limit for George Brown in the OCAA.
– T. Bennett