Thursday, 19 July 2007

Swords Settles In; Morin Ready for Thailand

Recruiting in the OUA can be a challenge even at the best of times, so consider the task facing new Laurentian Head Coach Shawn Swords, who just took over the reigns at his alma mater in June. Swords has been working hard from the get-go, trying to fill out a roster that is likely to have considerable turnover from last season's OUA East quarter-finalists. Having spent his university career with the Vees in Sudbury, Swords understands that Laurentian and the City of Sudbury attract a certain type of player, reflecting a mentally-tough, blue collar style that enabled the Voyageurs to historically gut out tough wins and making them an extremely tough out at home(recall that Carleton's long winning streak from 2 years ago began after a loss to the Virgil Hill-coached Voyageurs at Ben Avery Gym). As Swords observes, "At Laurentian we don't recruit every player available, not every player is a fit for Sudbury and Laurentian but I have my eye on a few for this year and next year." In fact, in the 4 to 6 weeks that Swords has been on the job, he has already been able to garner 4 commitments for next season including Mark Ramalho (Brampton St. Augustine), Andrew Kay (Scarborough Mowat), Dave Otterbin (London Beal) and Greg Lakanen (Sudbury Lo Ellen Park). As well, Swords is waiting on at least a couple of more newcomers for this coming season. As far as beyond this season, Swords has been working the summer circuit hard already: "I was down to watch JDP and the All-Canada Prospects Camp this past weekend and saw some good talent there." Thus far, the job has made him very happy and Swords credits the Sudbury community for helping to make him feel at home again. "The Sudbury Community has been great to me here as they always have. I've always been in contact with the Alumni here but it's good to know I'll be here for awhile now and not leaving in August for Europe. There is definitely a buzz about the Voyageurs and an expectation that we'll rise up to the top quickly. Given that the OUA East is one of the strongest, if not the strongest conference in the country, I think it will be a daunting task but one that I am looking forward to." Looking ahead to the coming season, Swords reflected on some of the coaches he would be facing with fond memories. "The coaches in this conference are quite impressive and I look forward to coaching against all of them, especially Dave DeAveiro, Dave Smart and Mike Katz since they all coached me at some point in my career. Also, the Laurentian match up against Laurier should be a good one as I'm sure Coach (Peter) Campbell is looking forward to beating me and shaking my hand at the end with a big smile." Expect to Swords to translate his great work ethic he showed on the court throughout his playing career to the coaching and recruiting circles as he starts his new career at Laurentian.

It is always great to hear from enthusiastic Jacques Paiement, Head Coach of Laval Rouge et Or, who has built such a consistently strong program from scratch about 10 years ago. Laval has had back-to-back stellar recruiting classes that include last season's CIS Rookie-of-the-Year J.F. Beaulieu-Maheux and one of the pre-season candidates for that honour this season in 6'3" Jerome Turcotte. But Laval's success this season will almost certainly depend on the type of season they get out of 6'7" J.P. Morin, who suffered through an injury-plague campaign last season including a lingering wrist injury that limited his continuity. After suffering through an achilles injury during the initial Canada Basketball camp in May in Oshawa, Morin appears to be healthy again and looking forward to representing Canada on our FISU Games team which convenes in Burnaby, B.C. at Simon Fraser University later next week. Morin, who has a fine array of offensive skills including a solid post-up game and range beyond the 3 point line, will be expected to make even more of a contribution offensively with UBC's Casey Archibald unavailable after signing a professional contract in Austria that forces him overseas in early August. According to Paiement, "JP has recovered from the injury (Achilles tendon) that slowed him considerably at the June training camp. He has trained diligently (weights, shooting and ball handling). His wrist is now OK and he is shooting with the kind of range and accuracy that he displayed in last year's preseason when he was 10 for 23 from behind the arc. He has regained his mobility which has always been his main asset. Last but not least he is stronger thanks to weight training." We look forward to Morin's contribution to our FISU games team coming up in the next few weeks.

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