In what was a bit of a shocker, especially given that Coach was attending coaches meetings in Halifax this past week, UPEI announced that the contract of Tim Kendrick, their Head men’s basketball since late July, 2011, would not be renewed. Panthers come off a disappointing season as their fifth-year senior laden crew, led by 6’2″ All-Canadian Tyler Scott, was expected to contend for an AUS championship, especially after last season’s run to the championship game.
Kendrick compiled a career record of 70-50 and garnered AUS coach-of-the-year honors in 2011-12 but Panthers struggled this season amid some injury issues, finishing 6-14 and out of the AUS tournament. Panthers struggled on the defensive end this season, allowing almost 92.0 points per game and allowing teams to shoot 39.2% from the three, highest in the conference. Players were sympathetic to Kendrick’s release as per this article in PEI newspaper and by all accounts, including a passionate Senior’s Night earlier this season, Kendrick was well regarded as a “player’s coach”.
UPEI Athletic Director Chris Huggan shared that his decision not to renew Kendrick’s contract was a “tough one” and has already had numerous inquiries for the position. Huggan will make the process an “open competition” and expects to conduct a thorough review of candidates skills, likely including on-court sessions. Huggan sounded confident that Panthers can attract a coach with strong national appeal.
The focus now turns to the candidates to replace Kendrick, who by most accounts had a compensation package in the lower strata of U Sports coaches. Logical names to consider include:
- Mike Leslie, a PEI native who is presently Head Coach of Halifax Hurricanes of NBL-Canada and leading the Atlantic Division with a 21-6 record in his first season as bench boss (named in late November, 2016)
- Holland College Head man and Charlottetown native Josh Whitty, this season’s ACAA champions and getting set to host CCAA National championships at home beginning today (15th March) and defending CCAA Coach-of-the-Year, although the program was docked 6 victories this season over an eligibility issue
- Long-time high school and prep Head Coach and former CIS assistant (Guelph & Waterloo) Tarry Upshaw, a native of Windsor, Nova Scotia and presently Head Coach at Ridley College in St. Catharines, ON
- Several capable and ready U Sports Assistants who currently work for elite programs are in my opinion ready to assume Head Coaching roles including Ryerson’s Borko Popic and McGill’s Madhav Trivedi.
Some recall that UQAM Head Coach Nate Philippe started his playing career at UPEI before transferring to Saint Mary’s (circa early 2000’s) and, as a result, would be considered for the position. Philippe confirmed with me earlier today that he won’t be applying for the position and is not involved in any way.
Finally, recall that UPEI is the alma mater of Scott Morrison, one of Canada’s most successful coaches now working in the U.S.A. in the Boston Celtics organization as Head Coach of Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League. Expect the UPEI Athletic Department to be amenable to suggestions/recommendations from Morrison, who observers recall was an All-Conference three-point shooter for the Panthers before moving into coaching, most notably for CIS fans rebuilding Lakehead from one of the worst programs in Canada to a Wilson Cup champion and Final 8 championship game participant before finding appeal in the U.S. Morrison could put forth names of some of his former players who are trying to break through into the coaching ranks.
Huggan has a target of May 1st, 2017 to have the new Head Coach in place.