Steel City tough
The continued success of a basketball program relies on returning players taking the next step in their development and filling a bigger role on their teams.
Olivia Fiorucci had done just that for the Brock Badgers women’s basketball squad.
After averaging 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game last season for Brock, the 20-year-old Hamilton native went into Sunday afternoon’s game against visiting Ottawa averaging 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
“Last year was definitely a learning experience. We had a lot of great players and it was learning from them. This year, it’s just stepping into the position, knowing where to go on defence and knowing what we are running on offence,” the six-foot forward said. “It takes a long time to learn but once I got the hang of it, it has really helped me this year.”
Brock head coach Mike Rao is pleased with Fiorucci’s development this season.
“She has stepped up big time. She is a good thinker and she is getting to be a really good player. She understands what we are doing and she plays good defence,” he said. “Her hands are up all the time and as she roughs it up with the best of them. She is a Hamilton girl. It’s Steel Mill City and she is as tough as nails.”
Fiorucci is happy to see Rao acknowledging her grit.
“I love it, of course,” she said. “I like to think I play that way and I am glad other people think so too.”
Rao feels her biggest improvement this season is her nose for the ball.
“She is really starting to score and her shot is coming together but a lot of it is her defence. She is moving and getting a lot more comfortable out there and she is not as panicked. We are getting them over the panic stage which we have a few players in now. As soon as we get them to relax and play naturally, we will be a lot better.”
The kinesiology major agrees with that statement.
“That just comes with knowing your position and knowing where you need to be on the court all the time. That plays a big role in getting open. You get open when you are in the right position and you go where he tells you to go. The plays are designed well and you get open because of the cuts, dives and getting into the post.”
The Blessed Sacrament Juel player knows she is not yet a finished product on the court.
“It is being a better leader and helping other players learn their positions, learn their defensive roles and knowing where they need to be. Everyone has a different role and being the glue for this team is where I want to get to.”
Fiorucci is happy with her team’s play this season.
“We go into every game knowing we’re going to be in the game and have a chance to win.”
The Badgers (5-4) completed the first half of their season Sunday with a 60-49 loss to the unbeaten Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Ottawa built quarter leads of 19-12, 32-20 and 49-28 to record the victory.
Top performers for Brock were: Madalyn Weinert with 20 points and 13 rebounds; Madison Macinnis with eight points and five boards; Fiorucci with six points; and Theresa Brown with five points.
Top scorers for the Gee-Gees were Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu (18), Oksana Gouchie-Provencher (10) and Natsuki Szczokin (8).
Brock returns to action Jan. 6 with a road game against Queen’s.