New team, same goal

Coach goes through defensive postioning with his team

Coach goes through defensive postioning with his team. (Photography by Mikhail Heller / The Sheridan Sun)


No excuses, no shortcuts – it was the theme of last season for the Bruins men’s basketball team and even though the team isn’t the same, it’s no excuse to expect any less this season.

The Double Blue is coming into this year with two back-to-back OCAA Basketball Championship titles under the tutelage of Head Coach Jim Flack. Having met success with success, the biggest question going into this season is can they find it again?

This year the team has 10 new players and only four returning players from the previous season.

“We definitely lost some bodies in the paint in terms of size, but we also got more longer and more faster which in turn I think is going to make our run-and-gun offense more effective,” said Flack.

Last season the Bruins finished with a record of 15-3, winning the OCAA tournament at home against Algonquin in the finals. Trevor Williams, Michael Selkridge, Dylan Peirana , and Paul Williams led the roster for the last two years, all of whom are no longer on the team. Even though most of the faces have changed, Flack isn’t lowering expectations.

“I could never lower expectations, I would be letting these guys down and they deserve so much more than that for how far they’ve come with basketball and to be where they’re at we’re going all the way this season,” said Flack.

Jamal Pryce (right) plays defence against Timoe Lewis (left).

Jamal Pryce (right) plays defence against Timoe Lewis (left).

Only four players from last season’s roster are returning this year. Shane Bennett, Adam Elhereich, Kadeem Hall and Robert Hansom are all that remain but each is returning with bigger rolls this year as Bennett and Elhereich move into the starting lineup.

“I expect a lot from every player on this team and those four I expect to be leaders on and off the court,” said Flack. “The team should look for Shane to set the tone early and Adam has always been the glue, the kind of guy that helps out any way he can on the floor.”

For 25-year-old Hanson, it’s his third year with team and he knows there’s a big difference in what he has to bring to the table this season.

“It feels different. It kind of reminds me of two years ago when I first came. I was one of the roll players before, and this year I need to be a leader, I have to watch the team on the floor, discipline them when they’re being lazy on the court, motivate them about how they take care in rebuilding, so I have to keep them going,” said Hanson.

The team may have lost size but the long, lean, scrappy guards they’ve added might be able to bridge the gap.

First time Bruin, Jamal Pryce, 21, is shy and quiet off the court, with not much to say usually but on the floor he is a savvy point guard with rush hour handles, who has no problem creating options to get his shot off or finding his teammates open to rack up assists.

“We’re very fortunate to have Jamal, he’s a great player with a lot of talent. He understands the game and he makes the rest of his teammates play better,” said Flack.

Shane Bennett drives through a crowd of his teammates in practice

Shane Bennett drives through a crowd of his teammates in practice

In his last home game with the Bruins he scored 20 points and eight assists, showcasing his ability to shoot the three, make cuts in traffic, take contact and get to the line, as well as find the open man rolling to basket or in the corner for a three.

Although the roster is loaded with talent, team assistant and former Bruin Demetrius Woodard only questions their mental focus.

“When you play at the college level everyone is good. You’re here because you’re good, and if you think you’re a baller so does the guy standing next to you,” said Woodard “How this team will be determined by their maturity on the floor because at this level it’s only 10 per cent physical and 90 per cent mental.”

The Bruins are four games into their regular season and have a OCAA West record of 3-1. It’s easy to say this team will be heading to the OCAA Championship tournament this year but only time will tell if they can avoid injury, continue to grow as a team, and keep their mental focus.