By: Bryan Dutot
Mike Rocca, captain of the men’s basketball team, leading scorer and assists per game on the team, promises entertaining basketball for the upcoming Lancer season.
The Lancers will begin their journey back to the Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA) playoffs to compete for the Wilson Cup, awarded to the winner of the OUA playoff tournament, beginning October 28 at the St. Denis Centre.
The team is led by Rocca, who is entering his fifth and final year as a Lancer guard. Rocca insists no opponent can be taken lightly in a fiercely competitive OUA loop. Rocca and the Lancers seem to be coming together as a team due in part to preseason games and working hard in practices. Team focus will be a priority for the captain.
“My job, as a leader is to make sure everyone is focused and engaged, not only on basketball, on everything, for example, school and not (focusing) only for the 2 hours at practice,” Rocca says.
This season, the basketball team believes they can entertain fans with the talent of their players. The team plans to play “their game” which consists of fun, entertaining, high-tempo, fast-paced basketball. The team is excited to play for its fans. The excitement lingers in the new recruits as well. Fourth-year transfer from Gannon University in Erie Pennsylvania, Marcus Jones, who averaged 13.8 points per game, is excited to play in the OUA and entertain the fans.
“I’m excited to expand my game, it’s a blessing to put on a Lancer jersey and compete against the best talent around,” said Jones.
Last year, the Lancers weren’t tough enough on defense – an area they’re looking to shore up this season. Head Coach Chris Oliver plans on coaching his team to defend more efficiently this year.
“It’s about scheme and making baskets on the offensive side will help defensively as well,” Oliver explains.
In preparation for the upcoming season, the Lancers have already taken the court in exhibition matchups against teams from across the globe. The team travelled to Amsterdam, Netherlands in September to compete in three games, where the Lancers were found victorious in all three matchups. The Lancers battled against Club Harlemlakers (W, 72-65), BC Apollo (W, 81-67), and finally Grasshoppers Katwijk (W, 78-70). The team enjoyed eight days in Amsterdam playing basketball and touring the foreign city.
In August, the team this time played host to teams visiting from the United States. The Lancers won games against Jacksonville University (W, 99-95 OT), Ferris State University (W, 73-67) and Centennial College (W, 92-68) but unfortunately suffered defeat against Marietta College (89-76) struggling on both ends of the court, offensively and defensively.
“International preseason games gave us a chance to play against diverse teams,” Oliver says, “it exposes us to what we need to work on as a team.”
Oliver spoke about how “unique” this season will be. Not many Lancer sports teams compete against international competition prior to their season. Oliver also says that this group of student-athletes are the “best” he has coached in his thirteen years as coach of the Lancers.
It not may be the best physically or even directly related to talent, but the best group about “buying in” and “practicing together” as a unit Oliver explains. Hopefully, performing well and enjoying practice will lead to winning basketball games.
The Lancer Men’s Basketball home opener is on October 28 against the visiting Guelph Gryphons. The remaining schedule can be found on the Windsor Lancers website, where you can find all the dates for you to be “entertained” by the Lancers.
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