Benoite gets MUN head coaching job, faces huge task

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John Browne
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Former Sea-Hawks star looks to get talk about program 'back to a positive atmosphere'

All the new Memorial Sea-Hawks men's basketball coach wants is commitment to excellence on the floor, off the floor, in the classroom and in the community.

"I've always had high expectations for myself, but I'm going to be realistic," said Peter Benoite, who was announced as MUN's new coach Wednesday.

Peter Benoite

All the new Memorial Sea-Hawks men's basketball coach wants is commitment to excellence on the floor, off the floor, in the classroom and in the community.

"I've always had high expectations for myself, but I'm going to be realistic," said Peter Benoite, who was announced as MUN's new coach Wednesday.

Benoite is replacing Todd Aughey, who resigned in June. He got the head coaching job over Augy Jones of Halifax, the other person on the selection committee's two-man short list.

After reducing the list of coaching candidates to six, it was then whittled down to Benoite and Jones.

"It's going to be special," said Benoite, who will be running the same team for which he starred in the 1990's. "It's going to be special in bringing the program to that elite level again. That's one of the things I hope to focus on."

Benoite is inheriting a team that finished last in the Atlantic Universities conference with an overall record of 0-26 last season.

"It's been disappointing that people have been talking about the program in a negative light," he said. "I hope to get it back to a positive atmosphere."

Memorial's Director of Athletics, Michelle Healey, told The Telegram she was "pretty excited" about Benote being on board and is thrilled about the direction of the program.

Healey said the university was impressed with the experience and maturity of Benoite, considered one of the best Sea-Hawk basketballers of all-time.

"But at the end of the day, he still had to win the (selection) process and he did that," she said.

Benoite played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) last season as captain of the Halifax Rainmen and was looking at playing another year of pro ball somewhere when the MUN job became open.

Benoite returns to Memorial with a two-year contract after serving as an assistant coach with both the women's team (1999-2000) and the men's Atlantic University Sport (AUS) entry (2005-2007). During his five years as a player with the Sea-Hawks (1993-1998), he led Memorial to its best-ever record of 16-4 in the 1996-97 campaign.

"I know what the AUS is about, so it's not something that's totally new," said Benoite, who planned to meet with the Sea-Hawks' team Wednesday night.

"There are certainly a lot more things behind the scenes to do, but I'm looking forward to that as well ... some new experiences."

In addition to his time as an assistant, Benoite has served as the head coach of the TG Renasas Landshut U20 Team in Germany, where he played professionally from 2003-2005.

Certified as a NCCP level III coach, Benoite has also served on the coaching staff of the Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association's (NLBA) provincial under-15 and juvenile programs, and with a number of local school teams.

Benoite realizes turning the men's basketball program around won't be an easy job, but he says he's up to the challenge.

"No doubt I'll make my mistakes," he said as he looked forward to the challenge facing him, "but no doubt I'll learn as well.

"Nothing but good can happen, I think."

jbrowne@thetlegram.com

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Atlantic University Sport, American Basketball Association Atlantic Universities The Telegram Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association TG Renasas Landshut U20 Team

Geographic location: Germany

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