Positive outlooks for women's & men's basketball 2017-18 seasons

Head coaches Dave Wilson and Stephan Barrie talk to the Journal about expectations prior to fall season 

After looking back at the men’s and women’s basketball seasons, it’s safe to say the two are almost polar opposites.

The men’s tumultuous 2016-17 season, which saw them suffer their worst losing-skid in program history, left the team with more questions than answers as they headed into this summer. 

Conversely, women’s basketball had a statement season in the OUA. Their 18-1 record – tied for best in the OUA – lead them to a U-Sports Final Four appearance and a bronze medal finish.

To reflect on last season and talk about what they expect for 2017-18, The Journal talked to men’s basketball head coach Stephan Barrie and women’s basketball coach Dave Wilson. 

Men’s Basketball

Dropping one game after the other after the winter break, the Gaels lost a program-worst 11 in a row. At 7-12, the Gaels snuck into the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round. 

Although the men’s team finished middle of the pack in nearly every statistical category last season – barring blocks, where they topped the OUA – head coach Stephan Barrie is placing specific emphasis this off-season on improving the team’s shooting from beyond the arc.

“We have to become a better three-point shooting team, for sure,” he noted. “That’s a combination of our returning players putting in the time, which they’ve been doing over the summer and it’s also about some of the transfers coming in who have that skill as part of what they bring.” 

Barrie’s four transfer students, the most he’s had since the start of his tenure, are going to be relied on early and often following the departure of Gaels all-time leading scorer Sukhpreet Singh. 

With only two incoming first-year recruits, the program has shifted its priority to bringing in ready-now players who can contribute from the outset.

The disappointment that plagued the Gaels’ year a season ago warrants concern, but Barrie remains hopeful the team can find some of the magic it left behind during their 2015-16 post-season run.

“I think we can have an excellent year, and part of that excitement comes from our addressing of some of the deficits we had last season,” he said.

“Now it’s just about putting it all together in terms of chemistry and getting everyone on the same page.”

Women’s Basketball

Last season, women’s basketball experienced a record setting year. 

With a pair of OUA first team and one second team All-Stars and an OUA All-Rookie selection, their 2016-17 campaign finished at an 18-1 record, good to be tied atop the OUA. 

After winning 15 consecutive games to tip-off their year, the Gaels were on the up-and-up, eventually finishing one game outside of competing for a U-Sports championship. 

Women’s basketball head coach Dave Wilson explained to The Journal that consistency in their play year-after-year is the driving force behind his program’s prolonged success. Over the last five years, they haven’t had a losing season.

“A big part of that is our wisdom, our savvy,” Wilson, who was also named OUA and U-Sports Coach of the Year last season, said.

He added that the team’s off-season plans were mainly to refine their game, “fine-tune what we’re already good at it,” he said. 

Under his tenure, the Gaels have been through it all – losing seasons, winning seasons, early playoff exits and deep post-season runs. What’s left to the equation is simply staying ready and waiting for their opportunity.

“Our players have been through a lot, we’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations in tough games, the experiences that we’ve been through the last few years — that’s where we need to make our growth,” he said. 

“It’s building on that.”

“The rest of it – how we’ll make the jump – is all mental.”

 

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