The Memorial men’s Sea-Hawks basketball team surprised everyone last season by making an unexpected push to the playoffs, taking the third-seeded St. Mary’s Huskies all the way in a close 99-91 defeat. With eyes firmly set on Atlantic University Sport (AUS) glory again, the goal for the men this year is to turn the performances that saw them book their playoff ticket into the rule rather than the exception.
MUN is certainly not short of star power to make this dream a reality; Vasilije Curcic, the towering Serbian import who missed much of last season through injury, is a complete player and all-star who is one of the best in the conference at his position. Likewise, seniors Caleb Gould and Noel Moffatt provide a ton of supplementary scoring and rebounding in the front court. Should all three hit their stride in the same game, the team should prove a difficult out for any team in the conference. At guard, there is a little more uncertainty, with returning players Davion Parnsalu and Daniel Foo both poised to make a serious run for the starting guard positions, while Alpha Kisusi will continue to get more impact minutes off the bench. Last year’s tragic passing of up and coming star Jacob Ranton leaves a hole for the team to fill in talent and drive, but should also spur the team to greater heights in his memory.
Despite the numerous upsides to the team, consistency was a major foe of Memorial last year, coming in two forms. Day to day results were mystifying to Sea-Hawks fans, with Memorial able to record a solid outing and over 100 points in the first game of a double header, only to fall apart and suffer a blowout loss in the second leg. Strings of wins will certainly be important to coach Peter Benoite’s side if they want to be comfortable in their playoff position by season’s end. The other consistency issue that plagued the Sea-Hawks involved the absence of certain starters from the box score. It would not be uncommon to see three players record 20-10 games, yet still see the team post a loss, as the other starters with heavy minutes logged would be virtually invisible in terms of impact on the game. Basketball being a team sport, Benoite will need all hands to the wheel in order to ensure success this season.
To bolster his side, Benoite has been hard at work recruiting, landing the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association’s (OCAA) top scorer in high-energy guard Daniel Gordon, as well as local high school standouts Deng Ring and Liam Dunphy. Each offers tremendous athletic ability and strong work ethics, with the potential to be quick sparks off the bench with limited time, but Benoite says each player has a fantastic upside, and each should grow to be an integral part of the Sea-Hawks system in years to come.
Surveying the conference as a whole, there will be many tough tests for Memorial. Last year’s #1 and #2 seeds the UNB Varsity Reds and the UPEI Panthers are complete teams with scoring and playoff experience from the starting lineups to the bench, and will prove stiff tests for Memorial. It will be up to the team to work hard and take advantage of last year’s other sub-500 sides, the St. FX X-Men and Acadia Axemen in order to maximize their chances of securing one of six playoff berths in the eight team conference. One way or another, the Sea-Hawks will be on the rise from last year, and where they will finally land to roost is anyone’s guess.
The Memorial men’s Sea-Hawks basketball team opens their season Saturday November 7th at home at the Field House, taking on the St. Mary’s Huskies in the first of a two game set.