After a tremendous showing in the 2014-15 AUS tournament when Sea-hawks reached the post-season for the first time in several years and then led for much of the way before dropping a tight game to eventual AUS finalist Saint Mary’s, optimism was brimming for last season given a solid veteran lineup. Unfortunately, injuries helped curtail what started as a very promising season and MUN missed the tournament. Coach Peter Benoite, one of the greatest players in the history of the program, now must deal with the loss of arguably his two toughest front court players in 6’6″ Caleb Gould and 6’6″ Noel Moffatt, both graduated. As well, 6’2″ Alphaeus Kisusi will not return from last season’s rotation.
The loss of the key bigs is likely to force MUN to play more up-tempo and not rely as much on their stable of big men. When healthy over the past two seasons, Gould, Moffatt and skilled big man 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic were among the better front courts in the AUS.
Fortunately, Curcic, who battling injuries again last season, returns and thus MUN has a skilled big man with the offensive package to dominate and emerge as a legitimate All-Canadian candidate. Fortunately for MUN and Curcic, the Sea-hawks back court, led by 5’10” Davion Parnsalu and 6’0″ Daniel Gordon, is experienced and poised for a big season. Benoit got some late help at the guard spot with the recent arrival of 5’11” Jacob Simmons, a transfer from Keyano College via Olds College in B.C. While diminutive, Simmons has experience and plays with fire.
Arguably MUN’s top recruit is 6’4″ Nathan Barker, who was the star of Newfoundland’s 4A provincial champions Corner Brook Regional H.S., who is ready to step in and play immediately. With a mature skill set and basketball IQ, Benoite projects the multi-purpose Barker anywhere from the 2 to 4 spot with the ability to also make decisions offensively. 6’5″ Chris Dobbin is a high school teammate of Barker’s who is probably not as physically ready but has an exciting future as he grows into his body.
Another newcomer who should earn minutes is 6’5″ Ykealo “Kiwi” Araia, a third-year transfer from Edmonds Community College in Lyndberg, Washington who averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds in about 7 minutes per game last season with the Tritons. Araia, originally from Ottawa, prepped in the U.S. before moving to junior college.
These new faces should augment the key returnees including 6’5″ Deng Ring (2nd Year), Jovan Babovic (3rd Year), Greg Manual, Austin Chambers and Jacob Hynes.
Memorial travels to Ontario this coming weekend for games at U of T on Friday, Guelph on Saturday at 1 PM and at York on Sunday at 2 PM. The Sea-hawks also will be tested later in October at the Queen’s Frank Tindall tournament where the difficult field includes uOttawa Gee-Gees, Alberta Golden Bears and the host Gaels.