By Devin Jones
The rookie of the year is gone.
A year after first-year point guard Cassandra Nofuente was named as the On- tario University Athletics (OUA) east rookie of the year, Ryerson’s women’s basketball team find themselves in the midst of an unexpected rebuilding year.
In addition to being named a second-team OUA all-star, Nofuente, who transferred to Humber College this offseason, was second on the Rams in scoring.
“We [lost] a pretty solid ball-handler and go-to person,” said second-year head coach
Carly Clarke. “Someone who wants the ball in their hands at key times and can create for herself and her teammates…those are big shoes to fill.”
In addition to Nofuente, the Rams lost much of their veteran presence, as co-captains Angela Tilk and Kelcey Wright switched schools in pursuit of their master’s degrees.
Wright was Ryerson’s top scorer last year averaging 13.8 points per game, while Tilk, who missed all of last year due to injury, posted a career high eight double-doubles in 2011.
“Anytime you lose veteran leadership, you look for new people to step in and pick up where they left off,” said Clarke. “Certainly Tilk’s presence in the locker room and her experience meant a lot to the team.”
To fill the void left by Nofuente’s departure, the Rams will turn to second-year point guard Chloe Mago, who despite being highly tout- ed out of high school, missed nearly all of last season due to injury.
During the off-season, the Rams added five new recruits to their roster, including five-foot-ten guard Mariah Nunes. Nunes spent the last season-and-a-half at Farleigh Dickinson University, a Division one NCAA school in New Jersey.
Due to transfer eligibility rules, Nunes won’t be able to play an official game with the Rams until January 2014.
“She’s a great athlete and very dynamic, she’s going to make us a team that is much tougher to defend when she is on the floor,” said Clarke. “She is going to take our defence to another level when she’s out there.”
Other recruits include six-foot-two forward Shannon McInerney, who brings needed size to a small Rams team and guard Nicole Dido- menico, who was one of only 20 players in all of Canada to participate in the All Canada Classic national high school all-star game.
“We don’t see it as a rebuilding year [be- cause] I think we have some seniors that have some experience,” said Clarke. “Is it realistic that we’re going to win the OUA this year? We’re not talking about that. We’re focusing on the process and getting better day-to-day.”