Development the focus for finding success
After going 4-5 in preseason play, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s basketball team is getting ready for another campaign focused on development of young guns.
The new-look Hawks are looking to make an impression in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) with a mixture of rookies and veterans to fill out their roster.
Head coach Peter Campbell is eager to lead a young group of players through the trials of another season, and is particularly enthusiastic to watch how the least-experienced players on the team adjust to the game at the OUA level.
“I am excited to watch the development of our first and second-year players as they grow their game and develop into [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] CIS basketball players,” he said.
Simon Mikre will be an interesting player to watch this year in terms of development. The first-year guard has started in all of the Hawks’ preseason games and has been very impressive. He led the team in assists in six of the Hawks’ nine preseason games. Mikre’s abilities could play a big role in the Hawks’ offence that focuses on spreading the floor and opening up space for guards like Mikre to attack the defence and either score himself or set up teammates for good looks at scoring opportunities.
“The plan is to move towards a four-out offence and extend the floor both offensively and defensively,” said Campbell on his strategies for the team this upcoming season.
The new offensive strategy goes along with utilizing the handful of offensive talents the Hawks have on the wing. Last year’s leading scorer Will Coulthard is back for a fifth year at Laurier, whole second-year forward Luke Allin was second in the OUA in three-point percentage last year and second-year guard Chuder Teny will look to build upon an impressive preseason in which he had three 20+ point scoring games. These three talents have the ability to open the floor for Mikre and give him the room to break down opposing defences. Another advantage of having this handful of talented players is it gives fourth-year big forward Matt Chesson the opportunity to dominate the paint with his 230-pound frame.
This upcoming season can also be seen as a “passing of the torch” of sorts. With so many young players poised to step into bigger and bigger roles as the season goes on, veterans like Coulthard, Chesson and fourth-year Garrison Thomas will have significant responsibilities, according to Campbell.
“The key for our veterans is to play well enough so the pressure is not on the rookies, and to help them adjust to university and the time demands varsity athletics places on student-athletes.”
Campbell is still looking for some of his players to develop into leaders on the court so that the offence and defence can run smoothly and according to plan. Two years ago, Allin’s brother Max proved to be the leading goal-scorer for the Hawks, but since his graduation, the Hawks need a new pure goal-scorer to fill their ranks.
“The team is developing nicely, but we still need an on-court leader to emerge,” he said.
Campbell’s goal is to have his players develop and improve throughout the season so that the team can peak and make its mark felt come the end of season heading to playoffs.
“I believe the team will continue to improve throughout the year. The goal is to reach our peak in February.”
The Hawks begin their season on the road this Wednesday Nov. 4 against the Windsor Lancers before returning home to take on the Western Mustangs on Saturday Nov. 7 at the Athletic Complex at 3 p.m. for their home opener.