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March 15, 2001 Varsity ambitions are limited by space and money, says coach






Keith Pruden

Lack of space and money are major obstacles, says basketball coach Keith Pruden.


File Photo

by David Weatherall

Keith Pruden is a little disappointed with the women’s basketball season, and he’s analyzing why.

“We probably should have beaten Bishop’s 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 achievement.”

Their luck ran out in the first round of the play-offs, where they lost to a determined Bishop’s team for the second year in a row. “We’ve developed a good strong rivalry with Bishop’s. They showed us that if you don’t show up ready to play against them, you’ll 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 it.

“I happen to like our gym. It’s fun to play in and it always feels like we have a big crowd because it’s 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 doesn’t have an athletic scholarship fund. Every year I lose at least three or four rookies that could make a huge difference. Athletes aren’t shy these days. They’ll ask you up front, How much can you give me? They know they’re a valuable commodity.”

Since Pruden isn’t 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. That’s on top of a full course load, and if you don’t think that has an impact on fatigue, then you’re wrong. Sorry I’m late for practice, coach, my boss kept me in, is something I hear all the time.”

Pruden, who also works as Concordia’s 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 I’ve ever coached. That doesn’t translate too well into aggressive competitiveness on the court, but it’s still a nice thing to have.”