Former Sea-Hawks’ captain Justin Alliman talks about MUN split

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John Browne
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There seems to be a difference of opinion on why coach Peter Benoite and former Memorial Sea-Hawks basketball player Justin Alliman parted ways a few years ago.

Former Memorial Sea-Hawk Justin Alliman (right) works with a student at Alliman’s Dream chaserzzz basketball program in Toronto. Alliman maintains he did not quit on the Sea-Hawks, as coach Peter Benoite has suggested. — Submitted photo

Though apparently the two parted amicable, there seems to be some discrepancy as to why they split.

Rumour had it at the time that Alliman was undermining Benoite’s position with the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) team, something Alliman denies. He also denies he quit the team.

Alliman was going into his third season with the Sea-Hawks before, according to Benoite, they “decided to part ways,” in October of 2012.

“That’s not exactly how it went,” says Alliman, who is now president and CEO of Dream chaserzzz, a basketball program in Toronto that helps develop young players.

“He removed me from the team for reasons which I don’t need to go into because I don’t want to bruise his reputation,” Alliman said.

“Once he said he didn’t want to go forward with me anymore, I told him it’s his team and if that’s the way he feels and that it would help benefit the overall team success at this point then I understood.

“I then shook his hand and thanked him for the opportunity I had to play at Memorial.”

Alliman added, “In no way shape or form did I quit the team. I would never walk away from basketball, my teammates or any fans like that. The guys on the team and anyone in Newfoundland who knows me can tell you I’m not a quitter by any means.

“I don't have a reason to lie. I was the captain of the team and I even tried to bring in players like he asked to help the program. Why would I just up and quit the team? Makes no sense.”

For his part, Benoite confirms Alliman didn’t quit the team, though the player still believes the MUN coach told people he did.

“I can’t remember what I said exactly, but I’m sure I didn’t say he had quit the team,” maintains Benoite.

“Similarly, I don’t want to get into details here, as I don’t want to betray a former player’s trust, and don’t feel that’s its necessary for everyone to know all the minute details.

“I think its good policy for us not to talk about players who are not on our roster. I feel that’s the best approach here moving forward.”

Alliman also says he never disagreed with the way Benoite was running the team.

Certainly, there was an initial camaraderie between the two.

At the time, they were on the same page. Benoite said Alliman had been fitting in “really well” and seemed to be enjoying his time at Memorial.

“He’s a team-first player and I think the guys are enjoying that. He likes passing the ball and setting guys up and takes pride on the defensive end of the floor as well,” said Benoite about his recruit.

And Alliman’s first impression of Benoite was: “I checked out his accomplishments as a player and saw how driven he was and it influenced me enough to want to come to MUN.”

Alliman said it may have all come down to a simple misunderstanding of the circumstances.

“We went to a tournament in Ontario and lost our first game by 73 points. When we got back to Newfoundland, Cory Cooper, one of the guys I recruited, decided he was going to stay in Ontario to deal with his grandmother.

“Long story short, he (Benoite) had thought that I had something to do with Cory not coming back. I did not,” explained Alliman.

“He then decided that the team did not believe in him or his coaching principles somehow because of me. When you think about it, I would literally be the last one to quit on him. That would have been my third season back at MUN. I had brought in two recruits to help with the team and I was the captain. It makes no sense for me to just leave,” said Alliman who struggled at times and was hampered by a hand injury one season.

He posted a 6.4 points-per-game average in 2010-11 while leading the team with 108 rebounds. He fell to 5.0 ppg. in the 2011-12 campaign.

“I’m not the type of person to slander anyone,” said Alliman, “so I just accepted what the coach said and moved on with my life.”

Alliman says he still keeps in touch with his former teammates and seems to have no hard feelings towards Benoite.

In fact, whatever the reason for the separation, both men seem to have put it behind them.

“I talk to most of the guys who were there when I was,” Alliman said, adding “I even went and supported them and watched their game when they came to Ontario for a pre-season tournament.

“After the game,” Alliman said, “I stayed and chatted with the team and shook Pete’s hand and chatted with him.”

“It was good to see him,” said Benoite, of the brief reunion, “and to hear he’s doing well.”

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, Sea-Hawks

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Toronto, Ontario

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