Sea-Hawk's coach stresses defence in attempt to find wins

John Browne
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Men's team desperate for a change of fortune

Memorial University basketball coach Peter Benoite says he’s expecting a Sea-Hawks team much more dedicated to the defensive end of the floor this season.

Vasilije Curcic (13) is the face of Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s basketball team. The second-year forward led the team in scoring and was named to the AUS all-rookie team last season. MUN opens its new AUS season eight o’clock tonight against Saint Mary’s Huskies at the Field House. — Telegram file photo

If there’s an improvement in that area alone, the Sea-Hawks should be able to improve on the team’s dismal 1-19 record last season in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS).

“We’ve already seen in pre-season that our defense is better,” said Benoite, as his team prepares to open the 2013-13 season eight o’clock tonight and 1 p.m. Sunday against the Saint Mary’s Huskies, the eighth-ranked team in the country, at the Field House.

Benoite said the improvement is, “a direct result of the players giving much more defensive effort. It certainly helps that we’ve got size on the back end to erase some of the errors that we make.

He said that advantage, “will give our guards much more confidence to guard their man more aggressively.”

Benoite also sees some other indications things might start to turn around this season.

“I also feel we are getting much better buy-in to our team philosophy and much better attitude towards what we are asking them to do,” he said.  “So, that’s a great point for us to build on and I think with that attitude and mindset, we will no doubt be a better team … a team that will be much more ready to keep improving.”

While he’s expecting to see the Sea-Hawks guard better, “I also think we are getting better understanding of how we want to play on the offensive end as well.  

“I can see our team’s consciousness evolving,” said Benotie. “We are becoming much more in tune with each other and in understanding how to play together within the system we are asking them to play.”

But then there’s the reality of the situation and the team’s recent history to take into consideration.

There’s certainly a lot of work to do, Benoite admits, “but I can see tangible strides in what we are doing and, for the first time, feel we are on a solid foundation with the program.

“Now,” he added, “it’s just a matter of keep putting in the work, continuing to strive to get better and coming out to compete with the right focus and the right effort each and every game.

“I feel if we do that, we can be satisfied, regardless of what the score will be.”

The Sea-Hawks will be led by super sophomore forward Vasilje Curcic. The 6-9 Serbian led the team in scoring with a 16.5 ppg. average and was chosen to the AUS all-rookie team.

“Vasilje is developing into a dominant player and we will be ensuring the ball goes through him,” said Benoite.

“He is an All-Canadian type player and he will attract a lot of attention which should open up the perimeter for us for open shots. He’s such a willing passer that if we can get guys knocking down outside shots we could be very tough,” added the MUN mentor.

Meanwhile, 6-9 forward Chris Henderson from Pictou, N.S., is sitting out this semester due to his workload with Engineering. Benoite said he may be back with us after Christmas, but a lot will depend on how he is doing in school.

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Atlantic University Sport, Field House.Benoite

Geographic location: Saint Mary, Pictou

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