Thursday, 13 August 2009

Moser Candidate looks to bring Huskies back

Amid little fanfare in 2005, a 6'3" rail thin, mildly recruited guard from Dartmouth, NS named Mark McLaughlin arrived at St. Mary's in 2005-06 to compete for time on a Huskies roster filled with great players including Jerome Goodman, Nelson Carvery and Jonathan Thibault. Most observers expected a solid career in mainly a supporting role however fast forward to today and McLaughlin's basketball resume compares with any of the greats to play in AUS: 1st team all-AUS the past two seasons, 2nd team all-AUS in his sophomore season after being named 05-06 AUS Rookie-of-the-Year. More importantly, led by McLaughlin, the Huskies captured 2007-08 AUS championship and participated in two CIS Nationals tournaments during McLaughlin's first 4 seasons in Halifax. McLaughlin enters his fifth and final season at St. Mary's leading a roster with virtually all important rotation players back and with the addition of a pair of very solid transfers, the Huskies are poised to get back to Ottawa led by their Moser Award candidate.

McLaughlin's strengths are his abilities to read screens and play off his point guard to get his picture-perfect jumper off under virtually any conditions. He also has a great knack for getting to the free throw line because of how well he uses his body knifing through the lane. At a minimum, expect another all-AUS type campaign from this great CIS player. In 6'0" King Handles Joey Haywood, SMU has an exciting slick point guard capable of breaking down virtually any defender off the dribble and usually doing so with panache. Huskies Head Coach Ross Quackenbush recruited Haywood last summer when assistant coach Jonah Taussig saw him during the week of the annual Halifax Black Tournament on Victoria Day weekend and Quackenbush says that since he committed to coming he has been, along with McLaughlin, the team's hardest worker on the floor and diligent student. Fortifying the front line is reliable 6'5" fifth-year veteran Ike Uchegbu, an undersized and underrated five man who has 4 man's skills offensively. These three form the foundation of the Huskies attempt at a third trip to the Nationals in McLaughlin and Uchegbu's fifth season together.

While Uchegbu continued his normal consistent contributions, last season Quackenbush rarely was able to get the same from any other post. However, in 6'6" Ryan DeWinter, a transfer from Dalhousie who is in SMU's MBA program, SMU gets a legitimate CIS 4 man who can pull defenders outside. DeWinter finally appears healthy after numerous injuries including a torn ACL plagued his career across town. 6'9" Simon Marr, a second year forward from St. John, NB, will be in the mix given his ability to run the floor as a big. His skills are more face up/perimeter in nature however Quackenbush sees him developing his back-to-the-basket game as his career progresses. Both bruising 6'8" third year post Iain Robertson, who only started playing organized basketball in Grade 12, and 6'5" 4th year forward Mark Poole provide more depth, especially after 6'8" Luke Reynolds transfered to Mount St. Vincent College. Poole missed much of last season with a severe hand injury when he sustained tendon damage after dislocating his knuckles but appears healthy. SMU also lost the services of 6'5" Peter Gilfoy, maybe their most popular team guy, to an academic scholarship in Europe - he may return in future years.

Leading a nice array of guards and wings off the bench is third year sharpshooter Jack Gallinaugh, who has already won several games for the Huskies with some hot shooting beyond the arc including a couple of buzzer beaters. Gallinaugh should continue to be the recipient of nice looks from Haywood and McLaughlin and is in the game to shoot the ball. SMU's other top recruit is 6'6" Demetri Harris from Capilano College (now University) in Vancouver, who was B.C.'s Double A MVP as a member of East Vancouver’s provincial champion Britannia Bruins who Quackenbush views as an athletic "3" man who loves to get to the rim. Also in the mix is 6'6" Ronald Vanel (Montreal Vanier) who played the second half of last season and should benefit from a full season including training camp and he also has great athleticism. Also returning is 6'1" Miguel Pink from Whitby, ON, who started to push for more minutes off the bench last season, primarily on the heels of his ability to step into the game and make shots almost immediately. Also, the Huskies will not have diminutive Jazzman Cain back after he left the team at Christmas last season.

St. Mary's makes a somewhat-rare trip into Southern Ontario as part of their pre-season with four games in four days in October, starting with a Friday night game in Laurier followed by games at Guelph, McMaster (on a Sunday night) and then Monday at Brock. Expect the Huskies to ride their guards, led by Moser candidate McLaughlin and the entertaining Haywood, to push for another AUS crown.

No comments: