By Ryan Wolstat
For most coaches, a winless season is about the worst thing that could happen to a basketball team. Not for Patrick Williams.
Williams, who lived through just such an experience at the helm of Ryerson’s men’s squad, thinks last year’s struggles will pay big dividends down the line. “It’s a blessing to have had last year happen,” Williams said of his team’s 0-22 record in league play.
“Everything that happened was necessary for us to get where we are trying to go. “We had a few players, and one (Ontario University Athletics all-star Erroll Fraser, who Williams once called the most talented player in all of Canada) went out. With having that (little) talent and having the guys work as hard as they did, that’s incredible. That’s what we want. Opponents didn’t just come out and walk over us.”
A summer of recruiting, combined with the unexpected return of veteran leader Vlad Matevski, has Williams feeling optimistic about the upcoming season which starts Nov. 5.
“We’ve done some great work in the off-season getting some people that complement what we want,” Williams said. “People that are fundamental and intellectual as basketball players and (who) have the ability to do a variety of different things on the court.”
The seven new recruits are touted as being key contributors to their former teams and according to the coach fit Williams’ basketball i ntelligence requirement. Three to watch are Geoff Procter, Brandon Krupa and Paul Ogini.
The 6-foot-5 Ogini, who had to sit out last season after transferring from the University of Toronto, will add athleticism to the lineup. Procter was an impact player for a strong Sheridan College squad last year.
Krupa served as team captain for three years with Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catherines, Ont., a club that went to the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletics championship last spring.
Williams is also excited by the continued growth of returning players Peeter Veltman and Igor Bakovic. “We have guys that have completed a season and know exactly what is expected. We expect them to be better; that’s part of the program,” Williams said.
Williams isn’t stating a specific goal for his team in terms of wins and losses, but he believes they will be much improved with more talent and experience across the board. “Our expectation is we are going to be better. Our goal is always to be better the minute after the minute. It’s that simple.