New wave of talent is on its way

Men’s basketball faced played Concordia University and the University of British Columbia at the Hawk Challenge.

Photo by Zoe Nguyen
Photo by Zoe Nguyen

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team will have a new look for the upcoming season.

The squad lost some of its unquestioned star talent last year, but a fresh, young group of players believes they can live up to the standards of past seasons.

Having lost leader Max Allin, the team has now turned to fourth-year guard Will Coulthard to captain them through a year that may include significant growing pains, as they have many young players.

His leadership is exemplified by his fast-paced, confident brand of basketball on the court and a calm, self-assured demeanor off it. He is also a fan favourite, as several of his crossover dribbles elicited big reactions from the crowd at the Athletic Complex.

However, he said he still has progress to make.

“I’m trying to work on my leadership abilities, trying to lead the team in the right direction. I’ve been working on my defence. Before I was a defensive liability, coach has told me, so I’m trying to work on that, step up and be a leader,” he said.

After Saturday’s 74-49 loss to the University of British Columbia, Coulthard made clear his optimism about the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk roster.

“I think we can surprise a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people probably don’t think we’re going to be as good as we were last year because we lost Max [Allin], who obviously is a big part. But we’ve got some good parts coming in like Kyrie [Coleman] and Luke [Allin] and other guys, so if people step up and play to their potential, I think we can surprise a lot of teams.”

His words rang truer on Friday night than Saturday, as the Golden Hawks hung around late to collect a 79-76 decision. Led by strong performances from Kyrie Coleman and third-year Aiddian Walters, Laurier used an up-tempo offence to motor past Montreal’s Concordia University.

A shift in momentum was palpable as soon as the Golden Hawks took the court for the third, as a formerly stagnant offence transformed into a swift fast break-oriented assault. With no answer for the energy of the Hawk push, Concordia was outscored 49-37 after the intermission.

After the game, head coach Peter Campbell stressed maintaining the improvements made by the team in the second half.

“I think offensively we’re trying to push the ball and I didn’t think we did a good job of that early, so we’re trying to get up the floor better. We need more post touches. We saw Kyrie today was very good inside, and we need to make use of that more often.”

Campbell also alluded to Walters’ efforts, praising his forward’s ability to lead by example.

“[Concordia] sets a pace — ­they’re going to play at that pace, and if you can’t match that, you’re going to have trouble. So I reminded them about that at half time — I said we hadn’t done that, and that’s why we were down. And I think Aiddian Walters came out and he took us to that level, singlehandedly,” he said.

While the loss of Max Allin is a difficult adjustment to, the team’s crop of freshman talent ensures others will follow him to Canadian Interuniversity Sport stardom. At the forefront of the first years is Luke Allin, Max’s younger brother.

“We expect him to become a very good player. I think he’s got the genes his brothers were all good —players. He’s got a package of stuff, but he’s got to learn to play at the pace of university and the physicality of university,” Campbell said.

“He can be a star too, if he keeps working on his game,” Coulthard added. “I know he’ll work with his brother, so that won’t hurt at all.”

The fresh-faced Golden Hawks take the court for their regular season opener when they host the Ryerson Rams on Nov. 7 at the Athletic Complex.

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