Men’s basketball brings forth new talent
In addition to a fresh face behind the bench, Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s basketball team has added a wide range of talent this offseason.
Newly appointed head coach, Justin Serresse, topped up his roster with six new recruits for the upcoming season, consisting of four guards and two forwards.
For Serresse, the new position, as well as the new recruits, are fostering a feeling of excitement as the season inches closer.
“It’s exciting, nervous, all of the above. You don’t really know what you are getting yourself into, especially because we have six new recruits,” he said.
“I want to see how the guys respond to my new coaching style…Hopefully we are going to get better in the year and the years to come.”
The overarching theme behind this class of recruits is flexibility. Serresse was able to find success with a versatile lineup as an assistant coach at the University of Ottawa and believes this new group of players can help provide that.
“We might go small, or big depending on how the veterans are doing and how the recruits are doing,” said Serresse.
“It allows us to be flexible with our lineup. Not knowing how the guys are going to do, I think it is going to be hit or miss. I wanted to have that flexibility to play two different styles and see what works better.
The new arrivals reflect that strategy and are highlighted by guards Shamar Burrows and Teuvan Kokko from St. Catharines and Newmarket, respectively. These athletes’ diverse skillsets provide Serresse with more offensive options.
“We definitely needed a combo guard with Kokko being a point guard and shooting guard. [Burrows] is more of a wing than a guard. He can grow and get stronger and play the three in our league as a defender and a creator…If we really go small he could even play the four,” he said.
While Kokko and Burrows will be competing for minutes this season, Seresse believes the other two guards, Matt Minutillo and Ntore Habimana, are likely in the running for a starting position in the upcoming seasons.
Rounding out the class are Nick Braody and Nirosan Surendran, a pair of skilled big men who can spread out the offense and fit Serresse’s vision of versatility.
“[Braody] reminds me of an old school four who can stretch the floor and post up, as well as guard multiple positions, so I am very intrigued by him. [Surendran] is a very good shooter, which is good for the CIS,” said Serresse.
“Those two kids should be able to come in and maybe compete for some minutes if the veterans don’t get it done.”
As of now, this is all speculation for Serresse and he will look to mix and match his options in training camp as well as in the pre-season matchups to see what works.
“For sure we are going to try at practice first. I know our five best players are going to be a big lineup. We are going to have to work on it now, maybe the small lineup will surprise me,” he said.
The club finished 9-11 a year ago, and has failed to finish above .500 or make a playoff push for the last four seasons. Serresse believes that the club’s struggles boil down to two phrases: compete level and leadership.
“It could go as far as having the guys fight for a lose ball in the game, as far as getting the guys training hard during the offseason…They need to compete on any given night. I don’t think the guys were able to do that all the time the last year.”
Serresse wants to see guys stepping up to the plate, even when he is not watching over them.
“Sometimes, you are away for a week or two and you have to trust your leaders to step up and say [that] the coach is not here but we have to work just as hard,” he said.
“When you have that type of leadership it really takes your program to the next level.”