Royals women’s basketball building towards repeat
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It has been an absolutely tight-knit start to the PACWEST season. With four teams vying for the first place spot headed into the winter break, it has been one of the closest starts to a season that I’ve ever seen. For the Royals, it’s been par for the course so far. Sitting in that dog-pile for first with a record of 4-2, the Royals have looked good for a team early in the season.
Their highlight came with a huge 68-37 win over the Langara Falcons to start the year. To be fair, the Falcons now sit at the bottom of the table with a record of 1-5, but at the start of the season, it was fair game. Their low-light was the 69-52 loss they suffered at the hands of the VIU Mariners. A surprise for many as the Mariners weren’t the best team last year, but have seemed to found a good vein of form of late. However, their game would have to have been their last. A gold medal rematch against the Capilano Blues went the way of the Royals rather comfortably, 71-53 to be exact.
When called upon, the women’s team has shown themselves more than capable of returning to fine fighting form. One major difference changes the dynamic of the team from last year; the return of former first-team All-Star Nanaya Miki has completely shifted the Royals, for better or worse.
Offensively, Miki’s 12 points per game have helped the Royals a tonne, yet it comes in place of Sarah Jorgenson’s lack of offensive presence this year. Likely because Miki has really stepped into her role as an all-around forward, Jorgenson has instead been a key defensive leader for the Royals. Her 7.5 rebounds per game has her fourth best in the PACWEST, and her 1.5 blocks per game is second best. Speaking of rebounding, that is again something the Royals do very well thanks to head coach Steve Beauchamp’s focus on it. Nanaya Miki leads the team in rebounds with 8.3 per game, which is second best in the PACWEST. Rachel Beauchamp has 7.2 rebound per game, sixth best in the PACWEST. Beauchamp also has 12.7 points per game, seventh best in the PACWEST.
What the Royals are really missing this year is a playmaker. Naturally, with Adelia Paul finishing her PACWEST playing career last year, the transition to a new shot caller has taken time. Nanaya Miki has filled the role well, tossing up three assists per game (fourth best in the PACWEST). However, other than Miki, it’s a tossup for the Royals. Remarkably, in a six way tie for 10th most assists per game are four Royals. Jessica Castillo, Karen Li, Amber Beasley, and Ellen Fallis each average two assist per game. Now this could mean that the Royals are finding their playmakers from around the court. But Beasley and Li have some of the higher turnover ratios in the PACWEST, scoring 3.5 and 3.0 turnovers per game, respectively.
Perhaps finding a go-to playmaker is something the team will be working on during the winter break. Or maybe it’s working for head coach Steve Beauchamp, and that sort of transition passing is what he wants. Either way, the team will have to clean it up if they want to repeat. Interestingly enough, Rachel Beauchamp and Nanaya Miki have the first and second best shooting percentages in the league. Perhaps the answer isn’t defence, but just to get the ball up more often than the other team?
I’m not the head coach, so I can’t answer that one. But I can say, while not perfect, the Royals looked strong. If they find a playmaker, the Royals have the potential to repeat. If they can’t? Well, that means the team will play a very interesting style that will be fun to watch for.