toddler timberlands ACAC men’s basketball season preview
The eminent Tuckman model for group development theorizes four phases forming, norming, storming, and performing that are all necessary and inevitable for a team to grow, develop, and ultimately produce results.
NAIT Ooks basketball coach Don Phillips is a firm believer in this philosophy.
After finishing fourth in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference North Division last season, the Ooks are favoured to finish first in 2009 10, thanks to a preposterously talented recruiting class that bore witness to its promise when NAIT defeated defending national champions Mount Royal and won the prestigious Robert Day pre season tournament two weeks ago.
“We feel like we’ve got one of, if not the most talented teams in the country,” says Phillips, beginning his second year at NAIT. “Taking that into consideration, the only thing that can stop us is us.
“If we do not develop as a team and make it through the storming stage into the norming stage, then we’re going to underachieve. But if we happen to break through that storming stage and pass through the norming into the performing stage, where you’re just playing basketball and you respect and have confidence in each other, the game becomes pretty easy and that’s when talent goes to another level.”
Returning five of their top six scorers, the Ooks must integrate a host of newcomers including Archbishop O’Leary star Alex Sherman, a pair of six foot nine posts (Daniel Perepeluk and Mitch Troock), two transfers from powerhouse Sheridan College (cousins Shane Cox and Shane Reese) and a trio of guards harvested from the fertile Ontario high school hoops landscape (Rodel Grenaway, Gerard Mozwa, Chris Neptune).
“We think we’ve addressed all the weaknesses from our team last year,
which is size at the guard position, size at the (power forward) position, and depth at all positions,” Phillips says.
In a bid to hold off NAIT, defending champions Concordia is getting a blast from the past, as the Thunder’s top three scorers from the 2006 07 season (Trevor Dreger, Kris Raymond, and Jason Smith) return to school after absences of a year or more. CUCA also retains four players (including Brett Kallio, who had initially committed to the University of Alberta) from last year’s ACAC finalists, while adding two transfers all star swingman Reid Fralick (King’s) and former Ross Sheppard star Andrew Champagne (University of Calgary).
“We have a lot of depth, a lot of experience, we can shoot the ball well, we’re very athletic, so I really like this team,” says Concordia coach Paul Sir.
Not to be overlooked is MacEwan, last year’s North Division runner up. Coach Ryan Dunkley’s Griffins showed strong in the Robert Day tournament, strengthened by the return of high scoring guard Gregg Frankson, who took last season off after leading MacEwan to the ACAC championship in 2008.
Elsewhere, King’s may again have to watch from the sidelines at playoff time, following a fifth place finish last season. Dan Skepple will serve as interim coach for the Eagles,
whose top holdovers include diminutive shooting guard Jeremy Barrows.