With the beginning of the regular season a little over a month away, both the men’s and women’s Varsity Blues basketball teams are focused and aiming high for 2015-16, with both teams rosters having changed considerably from last year. With both teams having quite a bit of roster change from last year, the Blues’ basketball team is looking forward to training and developing players both new and told.
After ending the 2014-15 season with a defeat against Windsor in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs, the men’s basketball team is preparing for redemption, and is starting the season afresh with some brand new talent. The team is getting close to finalizing the starting line up and appointing captains, as tryouts are coming to an end in the next few weeks. “[A] minimum of seven different players will be on the roster this year,” said men’s head coach John Campbell, adding that chemistry will be an evolving process throughout the season and will be essential to the team’s success.
When asked about what the team’s goals for this season, Campbell, who represented U of T as an assistant coach on the Canadian men’s basketball team at the 2015 Summer Universiade, was direct and to the point, “our goal would be to make the playoffs and host the games at the Goldring Centre,” he said, “Once we get in to the playoffs our goal is to win each game.”
Despite his no holds barred philosophy and the amount of preparation his young team is putting in on the court, Campbell does not forget to add that fans and game attendance are going to be vital to the team’s success throughout the year, “Fan support is essential. I am excited about this team… I believe this will be a very entertaining team.” He said, adding that he hopes the university community gets excited about the season and enjoys watching the team dominate the court. The women’s Varsity Blues basketball team will also start the season with a new, young roster. Although the number of rookies joining the team this year outnumbers the amount of returning veterans nine to seven, co-captains Alanna Garner and Abena Addo feel optimistic about what the team can achieve throughout the year. “Our team is younger than most of the other teams in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS),” adding, “we should be more athletic, aggressive and quicker than our opponents.”
When asked about developing a successful team dynamic and learning to communicate effectively on the court, both Garner and Addo assert that chemistry is the least of their problems. “We don’t see [team chemistry] being a problem at all,” they said. “In the change room we laugh, talk and already have inside jokes. We also know what the first year players excel in or struggle with. We believe we are stronger at this point in time as a team than we were at this time last year.”
Last year, the team ended their season in the second round of the OUA playoffs, when they were eliminated by the Windsor Lancers — who would go on to become the 2015 CIS champions. This year, Garner and Addo’s top priority will be qualifying and competing in the 2016 CIS Championship, adding that the combination of skilled veterans and determined rookies will take the team on a fun and successful journey.
The men’s and women’s Varsity Blues basketball teams will play their first games at home on October 2 at 7 PM and October 16th at 7 PM respectively at the Goldring Center for High Performance Sport.