Friday, August 30, 2013 Training Camp Preview

Rebuilding year

By Leith Dunick,
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Scott Morrison is tempering his expectations.

His championship-game roster all but disintegrated, the Lakehead Thunderwolves coach is building a new style of basketball team, this one from the top down.

On Thursday the 11-year veteran unveiled the second seven-footer of his busy recruitment season, 7-foot-1 transfer Andrew McCarthy, who spent two years at the University of Massachusetts and more recently, on season at Massassoit Community College.

Earlier in the summer seven-foot Australian Brent Wallace agreed to join the retooling Thunderwolves.

The Wolves, who lost to Carleton last spring in the national final, also added a pair of Canadian transfers, 6-foot-7 Srdjan Pejicic of Waterloo, Ont. and 6-foot-7 forward Justin Bell of Mississauga.

The trio of players will help fill the void left by six graduations, the unexpected departure of long-distance shooter Joseph Hart to pro ball in Spain and the decision to sit all-star guard Ryan Thomson for the entire season to nurse his surgically repaired knee.

The new makeup of his roster means Morrison and his staff will have to revisit the run-and-gun style that took them to four straight CIS Final championship weekends.

“For one thing, we’re going to have to learn how to coach guys that big and use them in our system,” Morrison said. “Our system has been built around having small guys that are quick. These big guys can run the floor not too bad, so it shouldn’t hurt us too bad, but we’ll have to learn to use their size whereas before we were using quickness.

“It will be a learning process for us. But at the same token, they have to learn to play at this level up here, where there aren’t as many big guys to bang around and maybe they’ve got to step out in the perimeter every now and then and move their feet a little bit.”

Realistically, with so much new talent arriving in Thunder Bay, the team will have plenty of work ahead to maintain the level fans have come to expect at the Thunderdome.

The emphasis this year is on player development and gaining experience at the CIS level, though Morrison isn’t ruling out any February magic, despite all the losses.

“We’re going to do everything we can to win this year, but I think the expectations are a little bit lower,” he said. “Hopefully we can get back to competing for the top spot as soon as possible, maybe even by the end of the year.”

In addition to Hart and Thomson, the Wolves will be without what amounts to a wall-of-fame worthy crew of graduates, a group that includes all-time leading rebounder Yoosrie Salhia, two-time CIS defensive player of the year Greg Carter, super-sub Joseph Jones, long-distance threat Ben Johnson, local standout Matthew Schmidt and oft-injured forward Brendan King.

In fact, only four players return from last season – guards Nathan Wainwright and Dwayne Harvey and forwards Joey Nitychoruk and Anthony McIntosh.

While he has hope, Morrison, as usual, isn’t booking his flight to Ottawa for nationals just yet.

“I think it would probably be an insult to the graduating guys to say our best case is to win the whole thing, because we had a pretty strong team last year and fell just short,” Morrison said.

“But, with Carleton hosting nationals again there’s an extra spot open for Ontario and our goal has got to be at least in the conversation come playoffs to win a couple of games and get there.”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

'Wolves Open Training Camp with Roster Changes

Media Release
Lakehead University Athletics Department
Three Transfers Join Men's Hoops
Reloading continues for T-Wolves; Ryan Thomson to sit out, Joe Hart to play in Spain
August 29, 2013 — Thunder Bay, Ont.
(PDF attached)
Coach Scott Morrison of the men’s basketball team announced three transfers to the roster this week: 7’1” center Andrew McCarthy (Scituate, Mass.), 6’7” forward Srdjan Pejicic (Waterloo, Ont.) and 6’7” forward Justin Bell (Mississauga, Ont.).
Says Morrison, "We were in need of front court size and depth this off-season and I believe these three gentlemen, in addition to freshman Brent Wallace, will help provide size, strength and experience in the paint.  All three have much to improve with their games but are still expected to make an impact this season."
Andrew McCarthy
Andrew McCarthy (photo left) arrives in Thunder Bay after having spent 2 years at UMass (1 year as a redshirt) and 1 year at Massassoit Community College, leaving him with 3 years of eligibility to play for the Thunderwolves. During his time at MCC, the big man averaged 7.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Srdjan Pejicic joins the Thunderwolves after playing 2 years for the Waterloo Warriors. Pejicic is 6’7” perimeter player with a good touch from beyond the arc, where he shot 47% for his former team. He is enrolled in Lakehead’s Master’s in Outdoor Recreation program.
Justin Bell will join his younger brother Josh in a Thunderwolf uniform to play out his final year of eligibility. The 6’7” forward played previously with Ottawa and York, having shot 50% from the field for 7.8 points per game as a Lion in the 2011-12 season. Justin will pursue his Education degree.
As Morrison states, "McCarthy is a solid finisher and shot blocker... if he can run the floor with our guards and get back to defend the basket he will be a major asset for us. Pejicic will challenge to be the team's top shooter which is a big hole to fill with the graduation of Schmidt and injury to Thomson. Bell will be our strongest player and should fit nicely in a core group with McIntosh, Nitychoruk and the new bigs.  He has a lot of experience and should be an earner on the glass."
Morrison is taking steps to replace 6 graduating seniors, and 2 other key players from last season. Leading scorer Ryan Thomson (Oakville, Ont.) will sit out this year to recover from knee surgery in the spring. Add to that Joe Hart (Southend, England), who recently accepted an offer to play in the Spanish pro league (EBA div.4).
Coach offered his thoughts on the personnel changes:
“It is disappointing to lose Joe especially considering he was one of 4 rotation players returning from last season's roster. With his departure and Thomson's rehab we are left to return 4 players (Harvey, Wainwright, Nitychoruk, McIntosh) from last season's championship game roster.  In many case this would constitute a major rebuilding year, however we are expecting our core of returning guys to show excellent leadership in training camp in order to help our new group learn the basics and catch up. Our goal is to get better every week and hopefully by February be a team that no one is interested in matching up with.”

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MEDIA:  For more information, or to request an interview, please contact Lakehead Sports Information Director, Hugh Mullally, at (807) 766-7157,
Lakehead University’s Athletics Department features a comprehensive Campus Recreation program across both its Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ontario campuses. Working hard to promote a healthy and active campus lifestyle, Campus Recreation provides a great selection of outdoor and indoor intramurals with its C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse (containing a 15,000 square foot Thunderdome gymnasium, state-of-the-art Wolves' Den fitness centre, 50-metre eight-lane swimming pool, cardio room, Kinesiology labs, squash court, and change rooms complete with saunas) and the 50,000 square foot ‘Hangar’ building (an athletic facility home to a 200-metre track, pro-grade artificial turf field, climbing wall, weight training, aerobic and cardio areas, as well as the University’s Sports Medicine Clinic) .