The UNB Saint John Seawolves Men’s basketball team opened their 2016-2017 varsity season on October 30 where they were narrowly beaten by the Crandall University Chargers 76 – 72.
The wolves head into this season with seven returning players, including last year’s ACAA Rookie of the Year, Matthew Brown (Saint John, NB).
After coming off a hard loss in the first round of playoffs, Peter Vincent, who is now in his fourth year of coaching at UNB Saint John, is looking to improve on last years’ 7 and 13 record.
“Last year was a bit of a disappointment. We set a goal to win 8 games, and didn’t quite reach that, but this year we aren’t settling,” says Vincent. “We hope to be challenging for second place – but that doesn’t mean we’ll just roll over and let Holland [Hurricanes] take first.”
Two of the top scorers from last season will be returning to the Seawolves roster: Liam Sipkema (Midland, NB) and Stephen Ryan (Mount Pearl, NL).
Sipkema, the wolves’ starting center forward, was fourth in the conference for blocks and eighth in rebounds. Meanwhile, Ryan is coming off an impressive season which ended in a Most Valuable Player Award and second place in the conference for his 3-point percentage.
He hopes to build on last years’ success while attempting to bring his team to a championship.
“This year we have a good group of new guys coming in, and still have some core guys left,” says Ryan. “Medaling is a serious possibility for us, and my hope is that we make nationals, and that we get to go to PEI.”
As for new players joining the squad, Vincent has high hopes.
Keegan Gray (Woodstock, NB) comes to UNB Saint John after spending a year playing for Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) in Halifax. “I’m excited to get the ball into his hands this year,” says Vincent about Gray. “He wasn’t playing the position I wanted to see him in at MSVU, but now we have him in a position where his skill and experience can be displayed.”
William Legere (Amherst, NS), also a transfer student, is another player Vincent is excited to see on the court.
Legere, who transferred from UNB Fredericton, is hoping to bring the team past the first round of playoffs, something UNB Saint John hasn’t managed in a few years.
The new recruits are not the only thing Vincent is looking at this year. “(We’ve) got guys like Lars Moffatt (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), and Corey Armstrong (Saint John, NB), that have really improved in the off-season and who really benefitted from another year under their belts. The team dynamic has changed, and while the new guys are bright spots, so are the older guys.”
Seawolves pack two tournaments into pre-season
In pre-season action, the Seawolves travelled to Fredericton October 15 and 16 to participate in the sixth annual Ken Gould Invitational Tournament, where they squared off against the Mount Allison University Mounties, the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams and the St Thomas University Tommies.
The Seawolves were unable to keep up with the Mounties and lost their first game 80-59, but the second game of the tournament resulted in a win for the Seawolves; 80-78 over a much improved and very skilled Dal AC team.
“They were shocking,” says Vincent of Dal AC, a team that has struggled in the past. “They are very good, and we had to fight from behind.”
Unfortunately, the wolves lost to the Tommies in overtime of the last game of the tournament with a score of 83 to 82.
More recently, the team travelled to Maine where they played the Central Maine Community College Mustangs, the Southern Maine Community College Seawolves and the University of Maine Machias Clippers. The Men came away from this weekend with a 2 and 1 record, losing only to their American cousins, the SMCC Seawolves.
While UNB Saint John’s season will kicked off this past weekend against Crandall, their first home game can be taken in November 5 with a start time of 6 P.M.