Its that time of year again, as the St. Thomas University Basketball teams are looking to kick off the 2018-2019 season.
Starting with the women’s side, with 7 returning players the Tommies look to improve on a 11-7 record from last year.
With the regular season beginning on October 27th, head coach Fred Connors believes it is early, but that his team is heading in the right direction to be a championship calibre team.
“The coaching staff and players feel we have put great work into the pre-season and feel good about where we sit,” said Connors. “We have had a rash of injuries that we are dealing with, but we like our chances of winning a championship. That’s a good feeling to have. I think setting the bar any lower for this team would be unfair to them and the work they have put in thus far. We know we have a great league this year with lots of parody, but that’s all going to help us get ready for playoffs. This team values practice time. It’s nice to work with them every night.”
The Tommies had five players move on from the program this offseason, including 5th year all conference post, Jessica Patenaude. Along with Patenaude included a well-rounded group of guards consisting of, Jayme Hunt, Sara Banks, Taylor Forsythe and Morgan George. With those players gone, the Tommies welcomed 5 new players from around the Maritimes, including 4 new guards; Emily Owens (Fredericton, NB), Vanessa Soffee (Fredericton, NB), Riley Meahan (Rothesay, NB), and Kathryn Whittemore (Sackville, NB). Added into the mix of rookie guards is post player, Kiandra Macmullin (Fredericton, NB).
“I think we are going to have a great season this year, we are a fast and competitive team that can go really far. The rookies have already shown to be a great asset on the team, on and off the court. Bringing their own unique qualities that help round out the team,” said 3rd year point guard Becca MacNeil. “I’m really looking forward to the start of the regular season to show everyone what this team is made of.”
Along with MacNeil, the Tommies are returning a core group of girls who have all had the opportunity to play with each other for the last couple of years. The returning mix begins with 4th year senior Lainy Dow (Fredericton, NB), there are three 3rd year players; Christiana Richardson (Ottawa, ON), Madison Owens (Fredericton, NB), and Bridget Frazee (Sussex, NB). The final two of the returning 7 are the pair of second years; Leila Rashid (Cole Harbour, NS), and Alana Dowling (Quispamsis, NB).
Dowling has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“Having one year under my belt and seeing the work my team has put into this past offseason, and the season so far, makes me really excited to see what we will be able to do this season. With the addition of the new rookies who have already showed some great things, including Vanessa winning a tournament all star this past weekend at the Ken Gould. Our fans should be excited for this upcoming season.”
Alongside the women, the men have the same sight in mind. Finishing the season with a record of 4-17, the boys look to bring back the winning culture of the program with some great new pickups for the 2018-2019 season. New additions include; transfer point guard from Mount Allison Michael Otoo (Ottawa, ON), Almin Dervisevic (Ottawa, ON), Cameron Miller (Quispamsis, NB), Omer Hassan (London, ON), Drew Richardson (Miramichi, NB), and Geoffrey Lavoie (Ottawa, ON).
Rookie Lavoie feels the 6 new faces are ready to bring back the winning culture.
“These guys are ready to try and help the returners fight their way to playoffs,” said the Ottawa native. “Coach Scott Macleod has picked up these guys in effort to bring the winning culture back for the Tommies and I am very excited to be a part of it. As a collective you can look forward to seeing a very fast paced and action-packed games, starting off this weekend at Holland.”
Although there are a lot of new faces for the Tommies this season, the returning core is also eager to get things going. Within this group of returners, includes; 4th year senior and co-captain Travis Valanne (Miramichi, NB), 4th year guard and also co-captain Arthur Reece (Houston, TX), 5th year guard Justin Grant (Winnipeg, MN), Brandan Seagrave (Moncton, NB), and 2nd year players Carlo Theriault (Campellton, NB), and forward Jordan Underhill (Blackville, NB).
Fans can expect an upcoming action-packed season for Tommies basketball and it all begins October 27th as the Tommies head to the island to face the Holland College Hurricanes in the first game of the regular season. Women’s kick off at 4:00pm followed by the men’s follow at 6:00pm.