Long-time assistant Tom Oliveri takes over for legendary Bob Bain and has a roster dotted with athletic scorers who love to play up tempo and get alot of shots up. The Lions had a tremendous finish to Bain's final season as Head Coach with an upset playoff victory at Toronto followed by pushing Carleton reasonably hard in an OUA East semi-final game in Ottawa. With eight of the nine projected rotation players starting their third seasons or less, the Lions remain very young and subject to consistency issues sometimes from possession to possession. Despite the losses of 6'2" starter John Lafontaine and 6'7" rotation regular Vadim Razenberg, this group has several high-quality guards, three very good big men and a couple of strong wings. Although Oliveri could have one or two more perimeter threats who are more consistent, the parts are in place for a multi-season run at the top of the OUA East.
Expect 5'11" David Tyndale, a former OUA East Rookie-of-the-Year, to continue his maturation into an all-conference calibre point guard as he grows physically and more importantly with his decision making and court demenour. Tyndale is a tremendous scorer who is almost impossible to stop getting to the rim in transition once he has built up a head of steam and is rapidly improving with his decisions at high speed sharing the ball. More of a scoring point guard, Tyndale is a difficult matchup offensively for most other points in the conference.
6'4" second-year wing Ostap Choliy began last season as an unheralded reserve wing and by mid-season was regarded as one of the top young pure shooters in the conference. Choliy shoots it with supreme confidence from almost anywhere on the floor and when he gets it going can singlehandidly keep his team in the game. Choliy will flourish when he works harder as a rebounder and begins to understand when to turn some shots down given time and score and how well others on the floor are scoring. Choliy is another great young player to build around. 6'0" freshman Travis Turnbull from Windsor is a tremendous addition to this lineup off the bench as a score-first mentality point who has tremendous range on his jumper. Expect Oliveri to play Tyndale and Turnbull, who will play immediately in key spots, together for stretches also.
Up front the Lions feature an imposing set of post-area players led by 6'10" Dejan Kravic, the second-year forward out of London, ON and fellow 6'10" fifth-year center Stefan Haynes. Kravic has the more polished and higher-upside offensive game with the ability to face up and score in the low blocks while Haynes provides an imposing presence defensively as one of the top shot blockers in the nation. Both get their fair shots of shots up in the offense and aggressively attack the glass at both ends. 6'7" freshman Nick Tufegdzich is another fine athlete up front who at this point in his career is a much better defensive contributor.
The fifth starter for the first part of this season has been 6'5" Rene-Pier Mathieu, a second year player out of Champlain College in Lennoxville, PQ who plays hard, defends, rebounds and isn't discouraged when shots don't come his way. Oft-injured 6'6" forward Justin Bell has always had a chisled body and, as he begins to use his strength and size to assert himself around the rim, has the athleticism to develop into a fine starting-type wing/forward. 6'1" Ken Buchanan, a Toronto native, comes off the bench as a guard/wing also.
Oliveri is also high on 6'2" Jordon Campbell, a freshman from Niagara Falls Westlane who is originally from Whitby, ON. Campbell can defend all three guard/wing spots and continued to improve and grew on Oliveri and staff as a lightly recruited wing with strong upside potential.
The Lions face arguably two of the top teams in the OUA West at home this weekend with Western and Windsor visiting Tait McKenzie Building in North York as the regular season kicks off. Noted slow starters as witnessed by last season's terrible first half, Lions hope to reverse that trend and build off last season's encouraging finish.