by David Weatherall
Keith Pruden is a little disappointed with the womens basketball
season, and hes analyzing why.
We probably should have beaten Bishops in the conference semi-final,
he said, but I was pleased at how we progressed after the break.
Before Christmas, we were tied for last, but we came back and strung enough
wins together to finish second in our conference, which is no insignificant
Their luck ran out in the first round of the play-offs, where they lost
to a determined Bishops team for the second year in a row. Weve
developed a good strong rivalry with Bishops. They showed us that
if you dont show up ready to play against them, youll lose.
Inconsistency plagued the Stingers, which Pruden mainly attributed to
youth and inexperience; over half of the players listed on the roster
are either first- or second-year students.
However, the problems go deeper. When I recruit a player, I have
nothing to offer them, he explained. We have the smallest
gym in the country, and getting extra time in that gym for player development
is a scheduling nightmare.
We have 26,000 students at this school, so obviously, there is heavy
demand for gym time, and you have to have the facilities to accommodate
I happen to like our gym. Its fun to play in and it always
feels like we have a big crowd because its so small, but if I bring
a recruit into it, they ask me, This is your gym?
Another obstacle to competing at the national level is money.
Concordia doesnt have an athletic scholarship fund. Every
year I lose at least three or four rookies that could make a huge difference.
Athletes arent shy these days. Theyll ask you up front, How
much can you give me? They know theyre a valuable commodity.
Since Pruden isnt able to offer financial assistance, players must
find other means of supporting themselves through their academic and athletic
careers at Concordia.
All of my players work, some almost to the point of full-time. Thats
on top of a full course load, and if you dont think that has an
impact on fatigue, then youre wrong. Sorry Im late for practice,
coach, my boss kept me in, is something I hear all the time.
Pruden, who also works as Concordias Student Affairs Coordinator,
is now in his sixth year as head coach. He is obviously fond of his team,
and is cautiously optimistic about next season.
They are the nicest group of girls Ive ever coached. That
doesnt translate too well into aggressive competitiveness on the
court, but its still a nice thing to have.