After taking over as head coach of the men’s basketball team last year, Stephan Barrie spent his first full off-season revamping the Gaels’ roster.
Only five players return from last season, when Queen’s finished 2-20. Headlining the team’s nine recruits is former Carleton Raven Greg Faulkner, a third-year transfer student and Kingston native.
The 42-2 record and national championship that Faulkner brings to a young Gaels team from his two years (2009-11) at Carleton is invaluable.
“[Faulkner’s] a very talented player, good athlete, and he’s still adjusting to a new system and having a year off,” Barrie said. “He’s going to give us a lot on the floor on both sides of the ball.”
Eight first-year recruits will have to contribute as well. Guards Roshane Roberts and Sukhpreet Singh have put up the most promising preseason numbers and will play important secondary roles for the Gaels this year.
Rookie forward Ryall Stroud also had a good preseason, and poses a legitimate threat in the key for the Gaels, whose post presence was negligible last season.
“[Our first-year players are] going to have a major impact on whether we succeed,” Barrie said. “Every game, five to seven of them are going to be playing significant minutes.”
The team will rely most heavily on returning players Mackenzie Simpson, Nikola Misljencevic and Ryan Golden for consistency and leadership. The trio led the team in scoring last season.
With an even younger team than last year, the rookies’ learning curve will ultimately determine the team’s fate.
“This is certainly one of the youngest teams in the country,” Barrie said. “As long as we keep getting better every week, we’ll be in a pretty solid spot by the end of the year, hopefully secure a playoff spot, and then be a dangerous team heading into playoffs.”
A playoff berth would be their first in three years. It’s an attainable goal, and though they won’t be bringing home any championships this season, the Gaels’ long-term picture looks very promising.
“Once some of these rookies come back in a year from now and they’ve put on weight, got a year of experience, and changed their bodies, some of them have the potential to be tremendous players at this level,” Barrie said.
Rebuilding isn’t in head coach Dave Wilson’s vocabulary.
Wilson chose the word “fortifying” to describe his off-season efforts in reshaping the women’s basketball team. With the addition of six recruits and the return of second-year wing Gemma Bullard, the team has bolstered their depth in the frontcourt.
Their off-season player recruitments were largely made on one major consideration: size. With the additions of four first-year posts, the Gaels now have five players standing six feet or taller — three more than last year.
Queen’s on-court chemistry will be tested with six new members on the team.
The Gaels will be looking to fill in the scoring void left by Brittany Moore, the second all-time scorer in OUA history, with balanced scoring across the board.
Second-year forward Jenny Wright will be inserted into the starting lineup this year. Wright was named to the OUA East All-Rookie Team after an impressive campaign coming off the bench in 2011-12.
Bullard will also find herself in the starting lineup, though she missed all of last season because of a torn ACL.
Third-year guard Liz Boag will most likely supplant Moore as team captain, and fourth-year forward Sydney Kernahan will see increased playing time.
Opposing teams will only have to prepare for one Kingston team when they face the Gaels this season. OUA teams usually play two local teams on weekend road trips, but the RMC Paladins’ program folded in the off-season.
Wilson will likely have to adjust his fast-tempo offense to accommodate his recent personnel additions and play a slower, inside-out style.
This season’s team is deep, but a slow start is expected with the large number of rookies. If Bullard can put up similar numbers to her rookie year and Wright continues her impressive play, the Gaels will be formidable, even with Moore’s departure.
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