Wrapping up the season with Denis Beausoleil
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
Right out of the gates, the men’s basketball team ran into trouble this year. Starting the season 0-5 does not bode well for any team, but it happened to them. In what would be a huge surprise to the league, but not the team, they ended up going into the playoffs seeded fifth. They would go on to lose in the quarterfinals, but all in all, it was a crazy year for the team. No one would know that better than head coach Denis Beausoleil.
When asked about how he felt about the season as a whole, he had this to say: “It was a very interesting year. It was a frustrating year. It was an odd year in my experience. I felt like we prepared really well and were really thoughtful about how we were going to approach the entire season but what I think we learned this year is that no two seasons are the same. Some years, it doesn’t work out.”
The year was truly as Beausoleil described it. The team was consistent in all the wrong areas, and inconsistent in the right ones. “We had untimely injuries to key roles and players that we didn’t really have backups for. We had some players take a serious dip in their production at bad times. There were a few things that we couldn’t control. When things don’t break your way there’s not a lot you can do to counter it, especially if you don’t have a backup solution.” That backup solution was a key component that was missing during the regular season, as injuries ravaged the front line of the Royals squad.
The missing depth was something that would bite the team throughout the season. It’s a problem that Beausoleil believes that he should have staunched at the start of the year. “Honestly, I made a mistake in recruiting this year. That’s one thing I’ve learned as a coach this year and I wouldn’t make that mistake again. I was counting on having more depth, and we just didn’t have it. When it came to the regular season, we just didn’t have the depth that I was counting on.”
But despite that, the team can be proud that they overcame such adversity at the start of the season. Their start put them back a long way, and it took a herculean effort to come back. Beausoleil took pride in acknowledging his team’s heart and drive. “It was nice to know that even though we started 0-5 that we could get back to .500 and we could start playing better basketball. The reason that we did was because we had such tremendous practices. We had a good two months in the middle of the season where we were playing very good basketball and that was really our peak, which was early/mid-January”.
During that run, the team would play their best games. The scoreboard would say that the best game the team played was against KPU, when they won 120-55. However, Beausoleil had a different game in mind when he was asked which game was the best his team played. “The game that stood out was when we played against Camosun on the island, and we beat them up pretty good. That was the game where everyone was healthy and people were playing well. It was from that point onwards that we couldn’t maintain that form at all.” In the end, it would be their early peak that brought the team down come playoff time.
But Beausoleil believes that the statistics hide the bigger picture. “Yes, we peaked too early, but that was not the intention. The plan was improvement, and we were improving, but because we declined, and it just ended up being a peak. The plan was to peak come playoffs, and when it didn’t work out that way, the peak looks as if happened in January, but that was not the intention.” As deceiving as looks were, it’s hard to deny that the team fell off after the month of January.
But overall, Beausoleil seemed rather pleased with his squad. He credits this to their positive attitude. “Regardless of how things were going on the court, the team was very positive and had a very strong outlook, for the next week or for the next game, throughout the season, throughout playoffs; they were always very positive about how they were approaching the rest of the season. That was really uplifting to be part of because if you’re a struggling team and kind of muddling around .500, then sometimes those teams just kind of beat themselves because they fall apart. But this year’s Douglas squad was the best and most rewarding group of guys I’ve ever coached. I’ve had them for a number of years, and this year was even better.” It was the team’s attitude that made them one of the more dangerous comeback teams in the league. Other teams found it impossible to break the spirit of the Douglas squad.
Beausoleil also took the time to talk about some of his players this year, listing Grant Campbell, Bradyn Norris, Kristian Hildebrandt, Karun Samra, and Kamau Davis-Locke, among others. “I thought our veterans did a very good job. Grant Campbell, very early on, struggled a little bit, but he learned in the early part of the season, and in the second half of the season, he was just fantastic.
“Kamau Davis-Locke: Last year he redshirted for us, but this year he played for us. His pressure in the press, his rebounding length, and his ability to hit open shots, made him my choice. He has a long way to go but he’s another guy that would stand out as the most improved player. He’s great to coach; he listens, he’s positive, and he works really hard. It was nice to see him step up in his rookie season.”
Unfortunately for the program and for the college, this year marked Beausoleil’s last year behind the bench for the Royals. “It was a good run. I can’t believe that that much time had passed. I feel like every year I coached, I got better and better, and the athletes that started with me at the very beginning until now have seen the improvement, and I’ve seen the improvement in myself. I’m happy with how the whole career played out. It’s just, I care for these guys so much, and I really want them to enjoy a little bit more success. So the one regret I would have is that I couldn’t get them to a National tournament, and I couldn’t get them to be more successful. They been fantastic and so great to coach, that it just sucks that I can’t give them what they deserve. I think when people look back at the years that I was here, they’ll look at a team that was well prepared, had good heart, good character, but ultimately, only an above average team, never a great team.”
He is moving on to pursue new opportunities that have arisen in his life. “I will continue working with Basketball Canada as a data analyst, I will continue working with UBC E-sports League of Legend’s team as a data analyst, and I will keep my position here at Douglas College as a lab instructor in the geology department. In the future, I’d like to do my data consulting work and perhaps even coaching again. I understand that not a lot of people are good at data analysis, and it’s something that I can do, and it’s something I can bring to a team, so that probably where my skills would be most useful.”