Thursday, 6 August 2009

Deep, maturing Golden Hawks look to take next step

After last season's disappointing loss to Mac in the OUA West quarter-finals, veteran mentor Peter Campbell looks to continue his successful turnaround of the Laurier program this season, having put together another deep roster with complementary talent that should allow him to ordinarily play 10-12 players without any significant drop-off. Campbell, one of only a handfull of CIS coaches who have taken two different programs to the CIS Nationals multiple times, seems to consistently find the "diamond-in-the-rough" recruit going back to Cory Bailey in the early 90's at Laurentian and more recently with former OUA West Rookie-of-the-Year Kale Harrison, who headlines the Golden Hawks roster in now his third season. Harrison can flat out score the ball in a number of different ways and is learning to take over when the game is on the line. His evolution into a POY-type forward will be critical if the Hawks are going to take the next step and win the conference. Another little-recruited Hawk starter who had a tremendous first season is 5'10" Travis Berry who logged major minutes as a freshman starter and should only get better with his decisions and leading from the point guard spot. 6'1" veteran Jesse MacDonald, who has made major strides in his career as a scorer, will complement Harrison and is versatile enough to run the group on the floor from the point if necessary. Apart from these three likely starters, the rest of the floor time is wide open, especially up front, with 6'8" Andrew Pennycook , now entering his fourth season and looking to finally establish himself as a legitimate CIS inside scoring threat which would complement his already-established shot blocking presence as a defender. Depending upon how Pennycook competes, there could be more time for forwards such as 6'5" local product Matt Buckley, the type of kid Campbell loves: takes charges, gets loose balls, rebounds and doesn't worry about how many shots he takes. Also in the mix in the front court are returnees 6'7" sophomore Evan Schwantz and 6'6" third-year forward Connor Meschino . Laurier's success could be dependent upon what they get inside offensively to complement Harrison and MacDonald. 6'5" Justin Golob can create matchup problems because he can step outside and knock down "3"'s while 6'2" Jordan Hajdu, son of former Brock Badger Dale Hajdu (late 70's, early 80's), looks to build on his freshman season. As he seemingly always does, Campbell was hard on the recruiting trail and brought in at least two rotation-ready athletes: 6'4" former Ontario Provincial team member Justin Tomas, named Waterloo Region's top high school last season from Waterloo Sir John A. McDonald and 6'4" Max Allin from Chatham Ursuline, who Campbell feels could turn out to be the best of his recruits. Allin is the fourth in a long line of brothers who have played in the OUA. A third freshman recruit, 5'11" Osman Omar (London, ON/Westminster) should provide depth at the point guard spot. Campbell ideally loves to play up tempo and run whenever possible and the Hawks strength is on the wings with guys like Harrison and MacDonald who are accomplished OUA scorers. How their point guard play evolves plus how much their big men can contribute offensively should dictate if Laurier can contend for the OUA West crown.

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