Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Lancers set for Buckeyes

Lancers set for Buckeyes: Big Ten team takes court Friday, Saturday
Dave Waddell, The Windsor Star

University of Windsor men's basketball coach Chris Oliver freely admits his club will be trying to punch above its weight class when the Lancers take on Ohio State Friday at the St. Denis Centre in a pre-season game.

He knows there's a good chance they might take a licking against a Big Ten power, which has more experience and is further along in training camp than Windsor.

Despite all that, Oliver also knows such games provide valuable teaching moments and, even more importantly, turns heads on the recruiting trails.

"Ohio State isn't an easy way to start camp," said Oliver, who will see his team host the Buckeyes at 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

"We're throwing them into the deep end. It'll be a great learning experience for the recruits."

With nine new faces in camp, which only opened last weekend, there's a lot of learning to do in a short time to prepare for OSU.

The Buckeyes return all but one player from last year's club and will have Evan Turner, who is already projected as a top-10 NBA draft pick next June, in the lineup.

"We definitely could get beat up, but this goes beyond just the game," Oliver said.

"These games are great for our recruiting. So many players want to compete at that (NCAA Division I) level and these games give them a chance to see what it's like.

"It's also a great for the community to have the opportunity to see Ohio State here. This is Big 10 country and it's awesome to see them up close."

The OSU games are just the first of four contests against traditional NCAA powerhouses.

The Lancers will also host a pair of games against Georgia Tech Oct. 3 and Oct. 5.

While local fans will likely be focused on the high-profile visitors from south of the border, Oliver will be scrutinizing his own team.

The Lancers are a team in transition with All-Canadian Greg Surmacz graduating and signing to play pro ball in his native Poland with AZS Koszalin being the biggest loss.

Among the key returnees are shooting guard Matt Handsor, forward Nigel Johnson-Tyghter, forward Andre Smythe and guard Isaac Kun.

To that group, Oliver believes he has a solid class of freshmen to add to the mix.

While there could be some more new faces that emerge from the open tryouts Sept. 13, the key freshmen will be: Justin Wiltshire, six-foot-six transfer from Lincoln Trail Junior College, Josh Collins, six-foot point guard from Vaughan SS, Lien Phillip, six-foot-eight forward from Florida's IMG Academy, Blake Pauls, six-foot-10 post player from Leamington, Goran Kovacs, six-foot-five forward from Riverside, Herman grad R.J. Wells, six-foot-three guard who transferred from New Mexico Military Institute, Enrico Diloreto, six-foot-two guard from London Beal and Michael Godfrey, six-foot-six forward from London Orion.

"We have a nice balance of transfers and first-year players," Oliver said. "This team is a little more athletic than last year, but it's rawer.

"We're pretty happy with this recruiting class."

With less than a week to prepare for Friday's game, Oliver said the focus has been on keeping things simple and establishing a high work rate.

"We're focused on playing hard and being competitive," Oliver said.

"If you do that, you can play through mistakes because we know there are going to be mistakes.

"There's a good energy in the gym. There's lot of learning and teaching going on.

Oliver said the list of things he wants to get out of the weekend doubleheader with OSU isn't very long.

In fact, there are only two things that are mandatory at this point.

"No matter what happens in the Ohio State game, we have to show mental toughness and perseverance," Oliver said.

Tickets for the games are $10 and will be available at the door.

Pre-sale tickets can be purchased this week from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the east entrance of the St. Denis Centre. or 519-255-5784 ext. 412

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