Are you choking?
Though they were picked to win it all, the University of Regina women’s basketball team dropped the ball at nationals.
Before they had even stepped onto the court, the Cougars had a huge target on their backs.
With the return of standouts Lindsay Ledingham and Joanna Zalesiak, not to mention Brittany Read finally returning to the hardwood after battling a knee injury, every team across the country had their eye on the Cougars. They were the top dogs and everyone knew it.
However, while most teams would quickly cave under the enormous pressure of being ranked first in the nation, the women’s basketball team flourished.
The Cougars finished off the regular season with a perfect 20-0 record.
The undefeated record was nice, but what everyone on the team wanted was a national championship.
Although there were very few, if any, flaws in the Cougars’ game throughout the regular season, in the weeks leading up to nationals other teams in the CIS learnt that the dragon could be slayed.
On March 3, the Cougars suffered their first loss of the season to the UBC Thunderbirds, a 79-58 defeat in front of their hometown crowd in the Canada West finals.
After the loss, fans and even some players on the Cougars squad admitted that a loss for the team may have been a good thing, as it was a fast way to escape from the added pressure to win nationals and stay undefeated all the way.
However, UBC also put a voice in the other teams’ heads that said, “If they can beat them, so can we.”
The Cougars were able to rebound and capture the CIS west regional title and secure themselves a spot at nationals, but just as everything seemed to be going according to plan, Regina became the victims of an upset.
The Cougars were the top-seeded team in the country, meaning they faced the eighth, aka dead last-seeded team at nationals, the Calgary Dinos.
Naturally, all of the crappy teams have been weeded out when it comes to nationals, but when an eighth-place team faces a first place team you expect the first place team to destroy them, but no.
The Cougars lost 75-66 in the first round of the national championships to the Calgary Dinos.
Instantly, when news broke of the Cougars’ first round loss, numerous people began accusing the team of choking. After all, this is not the first time this has happened.
Last year, the team had a combined record of 32-9, but did not even make it past the CIS west regional.
This year, the team was almost guaranteed a Canada West title, but didn’t bring that one home either.
Now the hard question, did the team actually choke?
It’s hard to say. The easy answer is to say, “Yes, damn right they did. They were the first place team, had an undefeated season, and lost to the eighth-place team.” But things aren’t that simple.
The more difficult answer, the one where you might have to grit your teeth and bite your lip to refrain from saying anything mean and sarcastic is, “No, they did not choke.”
Realistically, look at their season. They went undefeated and not many teams can say they have done that. Even though they didn’t bring home a national championship and everyone thought that they would, it just simply wasn’t their day against Calgary.
It’s funny how the timing worked out; it sucks that the timing of their off night had to be in a crucial game, but it happened.
I also may or may not be saying that they didn’t choke because I don’t want yet another campus team to hate me. That is all.