Without question, last season’s Brock Badgers under Head Coach Charles Kissi were one of the top turnaround stories in the entire CIS, breaking a multi-season string of non-playoff appearances and were a Top 10 fixture for much of the regular season led primarily by 6’6″ All-Canadian Dani Elgadi. While the Badgers first 5 or 6 helped them to a strong start, the decided lack of roster depth became very evident as the season progressed as Brock’s young talent worn down amid major starters minutes and a meaningful drop-off when fatigue, foul trouble or match-ups dictated moves further down the bench. Partially as a result, Badgers were pounded in their OUA quarter-final playoff game against eventual National champions Carleton Ravens and the game was never close.
Fast forward to this early season and Coach Kissi is brimming with optimism given the new in-flux of talent that, importantly, includes at least two gritty, veteran role players who add toughness to the lineup and a focus-on-the-next-possession type of mental approach. Kissi believes the new role players should help smooth out the in-game streakiness – good and not so good – that characterized his younger group last season. Kissi believes that “we’ve inserted much needed physicality and toughness to our much deeper lineup” and feels “we now have 10 solid players who can play meaningful minutes”, adding that practices have been infinitely more competitive, making everyone better.
In 6’6″ Daniel Cayer, Kissi adds a do-it-all wing who can play (and guard) anywhere from the 4 spot to the point. Cayer teamed with prized Ryerson recruit Keevon Small with the John Abbott Islanders last season, averaging 16.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 4.5 apg as an all-purpose player who Kissi believes will be a rotation mainstay. Maybe the biggest immediate impact however could come from 6’5″ lefty Trevor Thompson, a fourth-year transfer from Guelph who has already taken on a leadership role with the Badgers given his grit and even keel mentally. His bruising-type inside game will complement Elgadi and 6’5″ Johnell Simpson and help replace the minutes lost to 6’8″ Matt Marshall‘s graduation.
Another surprise at camp has been 6’2″ Mike Asemota, a Brampton native who comes back home after a pair of seasons stateside including ’15-’16 at Missouri State-West Plains, where he averaged 3.4 ppg at the same Juco that Ryerson’s Chase Vassell attended. Prior to that Asemota spent a year at John Carroll Prep. Asemota is view as a solid, gritty defender.
Two other transfers should help including 6’4″ Mo Ismail, entering his fourth season of eligibility after starting his career at uOttawa where he came off the bench primarily as a catch-and-shoot 3 point threat. 6’6″ lefty Cassidy Ryan, originally from Mississauga, joins the Badgers after a two year stint at Canisius with the NCAA D1 Golden Griffins. Ryan will likely add minutes as a more traditional 4 man who can also occasionally knock down the wide-open 3.
Kissi is also encouraged by the improved play of 5’11” Nolan MacKenzie, who will likely support fellow 5’11” guard Tyler Brown, coming off an impressive freshman season. Brown was one of the few Badgers who competed hard throughout in the Carleton playoff loss and his quickness and fearless mental approach bodes well as he looks to progress into a higher-end CIS point guard. Of course 6’4″ Ryan Bennett remains a key offensive cog with his ability to stretch defenses; Bennett led the way for most of the Badgers D1 games in Costa Rica in August.
Brock is preparing for the annual Peninsula Hoops Classic, this season slated for Welland at Niagara College on October 5th in support of the United Way of South Niagara, which begins an ambitious string of five games in five days for the Badgers. The next day, Brock hosts Steve Konchalski‘s St. FX X-Men at home before departing for Montreal and the Concordia Classic which includes Cape Breton, Nipissing and the host Stingers. Another highlight of the home pre-season calendar is Brock’s annual RBC Classic with Badgers playing two games against probable top 5 teams Ryerson (Friday night, Oct 21st) and Dalhousie (Saturday night, Oct 22nd). Both are top-end CIS games. The tournament runs for three days and includes Windsor, York, UQAM, Regina, Guelph and Niagara College.