Centennial’s new men’s basketball coach Jim Barclay has a message for the rest of the Eastern Conference of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.
Don’t expect the same 5-15 Colts they faced last season.
“I think we’re going to surprise some people,” Barclay said. “I think some teams that are maybe taking us for granted are going to be surprised when we get out there.”
Barclay brings an impressive coaching resumé to the fold, as just two years ago he led the Pickering High Trojans to a 70-2 record en route to winning the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Quad-A championship.
The strength of this year’s squad will be in the guard play, Barclay said.
“Right now, I’d say that in the backcourt – the one, two, and three positions – I think we’re pretty solid,” he said.
“I’m a little concerned about the four, five position and my concerns would be alleviated if some people who I know are going to Centennial, and I thought were coming out, were there.”
Knowing that defence and rebounding is vital to any team’s success, Barclay will be ensuring his team focuses on helping one another when without the ball.
“Great defence causes turnovers, and turnovers causes fast breaks,” he said. “If we’re going to be small, then we really have to take care of boxing out and not just worry about big guys getting the ball.”
The new bench boss also recognizes that given the athleticism and offensive imaginations of this year’s crop of players, “what you have to do is harness that and put it into some kind of [defensive] system that works for everyone.”
Barclay is also confident players returning from last year will provide the on-court leadership necessary to complement what he will be preaching from the sidelines.
“Andre Bell came out for the first time last night, and he looks like he’s going to be a really good player,” he said. “Calmar Morgan has been involved with the program to some extent, and he is a real good player as well.”
Barclay will be joined on the sidelines by his long-time friend and assistant coach David Joseph.
“When [David’s] oldest boy came to Pickering in Grade 9, David came to Pickering to basically help coach with me, and we’ve been coaching together ever since,” Barclay said.
“So the fact that we go back so far really makes it a lot of fun for us.”
The team will be without former player Roderick Robinson this year.
Last season, Robinson averaged 26.39 points per game, which was tops in the entire OCAA. There is no official word yet why this is the case.