High hopes

Coach promises a more competitive team next season

Stephan Barrie’s team went 2-20 this season.
Stephan Barrie’s team went 2-20 this season.
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Men’s basketball head coach Stephan Barrie is shaking his roster up this summer.

After going 2-20 in his first season with the Gaels, Barrie told the Journal that certain existing players aren’t in his plans for next season.

“That was made very clear [to current players] at the beginning of this season,” he said. “They were on a one-year tryout and they all know that we’re going to do what it takes to move this program forward.”

Even though all 14 members of the team still have remaining eligibility, Barrie said he could bring in as many as six recruits in the next few weeks, adding that next year’s team will definitely be younger than this year’s.

“We’re going out and aggressively recruiting, trying to improve our talent base,” he said. “We’ll be able to score better, which was our biggest problem this year.

“Finding top high school players who can score is a priority for us.”

Barrie said this year’s squad struggled to cope with the loss of key players in leadership positions. Veteran guards Dan Bannister, Chris Barrett and Timothy Boyle all graduated after last season.

“Those [players] had things we couldn’t replicate,” Barrie said. “We had guys filling in — second-year players who hadn’t had responsibility on their shoulders in the past.”

But Barrie said young players like guard Ryan Golden and forward Nikola Misljencevic gained invaluable experience this season. With the addition of several high-profile recruits, the coach is confident the Gaels will be better next season.

“Some of the guys, in terms of leadership, will be moving into a better place next season than they were in season one, having gone through [the losing season] and having learned from it,” he said. “We should be able to do some things on the floor next year that we were not capable of this year.”

Queen’s Athletics hired Barrie last April after evaluating 38 applicants for the job. He spent the previous five seasons coaching the Western Mustangs women’s basketball team.

He said the Gaels made strides throughout the season — in their last eight games, they won twice and lost four games by fewer than 10 points. Barrie said the goal next season will be to keep improving.

“Things can happen very fast in basketball because, unlike some sports, one or two players can make an enormous impact very quickly,” he said. “I don’t have the expectation that this will be a one- or two-year thing, but the improvement has to be there.

“If we just keep chipping away every year and getting better … we feel confident that in a four- or five-year cycle we can be at the upper echelon of our league.”

Last summer, Barrie came in too late to pursue his own recruits. Early in the season, two rookies quit the team, leaving Barrie to find players in the intramural league. But he said the Gaels will have more stability heading into next season.

“There will be a group of guys staying [in Kingston] for the summer,” he said. “If we’re bringing in a talented group of freshmen, the pressure increases for everyone.

“If you don’t do what you need to do in the summer, you’ll fall behind, and there will be new and better players.”

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