A new season for men’s basketball
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Last season, the men’s basketball team finished fourth at Provincials after a loss to Quest in the bronze medal game. That finish capped off an 8-13 season that saw four Royals (Dustin Egelstad, Harpreet Randhawa, Mark Dabrowski, and Devan Haynes) finish in the top 10 of various statistical categories. A decent year by most standards.
But that was last year. This year’s squad hopes to do even better.
Gone are Egelstad, Randhawa, Dabrowski, and Haynes. To fill the void, the team has brought in seven rookies to compete with the six returning players.
“[We’re] very young and inexperienced—especially for our league. But there are a few guys coming in as rookies and a few returners who have the ability to put up big numbers,” comments Andrew Baron, one of the team’s captains.
Fellow captain Kristian Hildebrandt also concedes that the team is a little green. “We are quite young so there’s a lot of learning on the fly… we all make mistakes and learn together.” He adds, “We are a really tight-knit group already. Talent-wise, the rookies are stepping up early and playing well, and the returning players are playing well also.”
Coach Denis Beausoleil is feeling good about the team as well. “We are a lot younger than last year’s team but we’re getting to a place now where we’re really working hard. If we can just improve every single week and execute the way that we want to I think we’ll be happy.”
After a preseason that saw the team go winless, some might question any optimism for the year, but the quality of the team’s opponents was a bit higher than usual—as evidenced by several games against US colleges.
“We purposely played really hard teams to get tougher and get experience playing against better players,” explains Hildebrandt.
The trip was invaluable to the team coming together, with even negatives having silver linings. “We had three older guys foul out and the rookies stepped up and actually came back late to tie the game on a buzzer beater. It was good for them to get that experience early,” says Baron, describing a game against Multnomah University.
While the team may be young and still settling in, there’s one thing they’ve gotten down already: “Scoring. We can score. We barely have any structured offence in place and we can really score. There’s several games we’ve touched over 100 points. Our points per possession is very high. Scoring is not an issue,” remarks coach Beausoleil, before noting that the defence needs some work.
Baron’s comments echo Beausoleil’s sentiments. “Our success will depend upon our ability to get stops on the defensive end.”
And if everything clicks, the sky is the limit for this squad. “Expectations are to make playoffs, to improve every single week and if we do that we’ll have a shot at Nationals. Nationals is the team goal which I think is a stretch goal. It’s not unrealistic but it’s something that we’re working towards,” says Beausoleil.
Hildebrandt leaves off with a warning for the rest of the league: “A lot of other teams have us written off and underestimate us… which is a big mistake. In this league, any team can win on any given night. I don’t step on the court with the attitude of ‘I am going to lose this game.’ I step on the court to win, and my team shares that hunger.”