Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Veteran James looks to improve Paladins

Head Coach Scott James begins his second season at the helm of the RMC Paladins with much more optimism and promise. James came on just prior to last season without the benefit of a full year to recruit and as James says "the results spoke for themselves" as the Paladins went winless, playing with a roster entirely made up of first and second year players. The returning group, led by 6'9" center Nick Cooke, is much more CIS-tested and James was able to bring in at least three recruits expect to join the rotation, one of which was a noted high school start who will start at the all-important point guard position. Expect this team, with four third-year starters, continue to mature and gain confidence, which started with a decisive 40 point win this past Thursday over King's College of Edmonton.

Originally from Halifax, James has 23 experience coaching at various levels, most recently as an assistant to John Campbell at Dal before taking the reigns at RMC. James also has coached 10 different provincial teams for Nova Scotia over the years as well as high school and small college in Halifax.

Last season's leading scorer Cooke (11.5 ppg), who played his final year of high schoool at Toronto power house Eastern Commerce, was well recruited by several CIS schools in his final prep year and gives Paladins a legitimate man in the middle. Most CIS big men take at least two seasons to develop so expect Cooke, entering his third season, to start to command more respect in paint offensively and become more active defending the basket.

Cooke is complemented on a tall front line by 6'7" third-year forward Simon Dakin , a strong rebounder (5.7 rpg last season) and 6'6 third-year forward Matt Wookey who was second on the Paladins in three-point shots made. 6'9" Cooke, 6'7" Dakin and 6'6" Wookey were Paladins top three scorers last season and form the makings of a solid front line.

5'10 Gavin Viray-Cox, also entering his third season, ran the point last season and, given the arrival of freshman Justin Hill (Halifax Queen Elizabeth H.S.), will now more over to play the two and provide an outside shooting threat. Hill is RMC's top recruit and was one of the 100 top Canadian high school players as nominated for 2007 All-Canadian High School basketball game.

Coach James should get more contribution from his bench this season as returning 6'1" 2nd year guard James Byun (Toronto) adds depth to the wing spot. Two more solid freshmen, 6'3 Jon Wilson (Tecumseh, ON, St. Anne's), one of the mainstays of back-to-back "AAAA" OFSAA participants in '08 and '09, will probably be one of the first wings off the bench and freshman forward Chris Nicholson (Ottawa Colonel By), likely to be the first big off the bench.

As coach James comments: "The goal for this year is to improve everytime out and compete hard. With the new additions to the team, practices so far this year are more competitive and there is a sense of taking steps ahead as a program."

The Paladins come off their first win in a while last weekend and will host Concordia and Laval this coming weekend in Kingston to kick of their pre-season schedule.

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