Men’s basketball Mounties building for the future

Tribune-Post Staff
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Coach Duane Starratt has already begun to fill in the missing pieces so that the men’s basketball team at Mount Allison may be prepared to join their hockey, football, badminton, swimming and cross country teams in developing into a successful unit capable of winning a regional championship. 

The team, this past season, lacked depth according to veteran basketball guru Wayne MacKay and especially at the key point guard position. MacKay felt the team was well coached but simply did not have sufficient talent to compete successfully against the likes of Holland College and Crandall University – schools that have recruited some fine talent capable to holding their own in the stronger AUS.

So Starratt has begun to remedy the situation by bringing on board two top-point guards who are capable to playing other positions. From the provincial champion Fredericton Black Kats will be Sawyer Eddy, an all-star and provincial team member. Joining him will be 6’3” Adrian van Vulpen of the Amherst High Vikings, division 2 winners in Nova Scotia.

According to the coach all players from the past season will be eligible to return.  He had only 10 players on the roster so could add a few rookies and not upset any returnees who might fail to cut it during training camp in September.

“Overall, I would have to say we had some success,” says Starratt, “as we knew we were young but improved steadily. We had an up and down year but made the playoffs with a 10 win-11 loss record and dropped a playoff game to Mount Ste. Vincents by 14.  Ultimately the ACAA title was won by Crandall over Holland College in the finale.”

While the team sustained a few injuries Starratt says that cannot be blamed for scoreboard losses as they seemed unable to put together a full 40-minute game.

Basketball fans may recall the “olden” days when the Mounties performed in the powerful AUS. Their greatest run may have come under coach Laird McLennan when they boasted a lineup that included such an outstanding backcourt of Ed Broadley and Neil Keenan, a pair of Rhode Island bright lights, along with Rick Millard, Ross Quackenbush and a covey of other outstanding players.

Then, many years later, the team was rebuilt and featured the likes of John Johnson and Richard MacKay in key roles and they went to the playoffs in Wolfville only to be edged out in an exciting match.

A short time later the team was scratched from competition even when the coach was on a recruiting tour, according to reports, and it was only saved from a funeral when a group of alumni, headed by Harvey Gilmour, Wayne MacKay and John Bragg, stepped up to salvage both the men’s and women’s clubs for play in the ACAA.

Starratt has guided the Mounties to three consecutive playoff finishes in his 21/2 seasons at the helm. He took over when the previous coach resigned part way through the year and has kept them in contention since then.

Last seasons starting five of Philippa Henry, Brad Fuller, Jordan Bedard, Alex Chisholm and Adam Spurrell are all due to return and Starratt is confident he will have a few other “big men” ready to aid on both ends of the floor. He believes at least three of these could perform successfully at a higher level.

With recruiting a priority, the coach says while it may be difficult to attract the top talent who might wish to play in the AUS, Mount Allison offers a fine option with its combination of top academics and athletics. Occasionally, a player has left here to move up to the national level CIS.

Starratt believes he will be successful in building a winning team featuring greater height and talent over the next couple of seasons.

“We not only must learn how to compete successfully but how to win,” he says, echoing the words of athletic director Pierre Arsenault, who said the football Mounties found the solution last fall and he expects all the teams to follow suit.

Organizations: Holland College, Crandall University, Amherst High Vikings

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Mount Ste, Rhode Island Wolfville

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