Hawks sign nine to basketball program

File photo by Rosalie Eid

File photo by Rosalie Eid

A combined nine recruits have committed to Wilfrid Laurier University’s basketball program, with six joining the men’s side and three signing with the women’s team.

Both recruiting classes focus on mending the problems from last season, which led to an early Ontario University Athletics (OUA) quarterfinal exit for Laurier’s two basketball teams.

On the men’s side, head coach Peter Campbell is looking to bring a bit more versatility to the team’s shooting abilities as well as more athleticism. This year’s recruiting class includes locals Jack Simmons and Vlad Matovic, James Agyeman, Vancouver native Christian Mair, Simon Polan-Couillard and Owen Coulthard, younger brother of current men’s basketball player Will Coulthard.

According to Campbell, Agyeman will be a good player to help out the elder Coulthard on the court, possibly moving him out to the wing to set him up for shots. The younger Coulthard will be like the current style of Laurier players, but will add more depth in certain positions.

During the offseason, as the players go through training and workouts, Campbell’s main priority is mending the tattered defence.

“Obviously we’ve got to get better defensively, but that’s more of a coaching situation and a focus in practice. We’ve really got to get our guys focused on that,” he said.

With every player from last year’s roster returning, Campbell mentioned that there would some competitiveness for positions. Aside from notable names such as Coulthard, Max Allin, Matt Chesson and Jamaar Forde, who all contributed heavily to the program in the last year, many spots are open.

“September’s going to be really competitive,” Campbell said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of guys fighting for spots. And that’s positive for the program.”

“This is the basic story we tell them. You can’t come back and be the same player you were in March. You now know what it takes to be a university basketball player at a high level.”

File photo by Rosalie Eid

File photo by Rosalie Eid

Women’s basketball only signed three new players, but according to head coach Paul Falco, they will add something new to an already experienced roster.

“I think that’s the thing we have to realize,” Falco said. “We have a pretty veteran roster already coming back. We have eleven girls returning. A lot of them are in their fourth year. These girls come in with the chance to learn from the other girls and fill the hole left by the graduating players.”

Hamilton native Nicole Morrison, and Jean Vanier graduates Sarah Dillon and Alexandra Spadaro have joined the Laurier team for the upcoming year. All three recruits played together last year on the Hamilton Foxtrotters.

With the depth of the three recruits, Falco sees no problem filling the holes left by graduates Amber Hillis and Alena Luciani. In fact, according to Falco, Morrison could be an exact replacement for the point guard position Hillis left open.

“Funny thing about [Morrison], she’s actually from the same high school as Amber Hillis,” Falco said. “That’s going to pass on the torch. She’ll probably take over Amber’s locker and she’ll be all set because she’s a point guard as well.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she wore Amber’s jersey, number five, as well,” he laughed.

Falco’s main focus in the offseason is the opposite of Campbell’s. While the men’s team is looking toward strengthening their defence, the women’s team is looking toward improving their offensive output.

“We want to maintain our defence and our rebounding ability, they were pretty solid last season, but we need to find ways to improve our offence,” Falco said.

Both teams have a long offseason before they begin the regular season on Nov. 1, when they host the Algoma Thunderbirds.

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