Benoite era has begun at Memorial

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John Browne
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New coach offers no guarantees on timeline for turnaround in fortunes, but says it will happen

Peter Benoite laughed when asked if Memorial University basketball fans could expect his success as a former Sea-Hawks star to translate into wins as the new Sea-Hawks coach.

"There are no guarantees," he replied. "Some former players have success as coaches and some don't. I think if you come in with a philosophy, it takes time.

New Memorial Sea-Hawks men's basketball coach Peter Benoite had 37 players turn out for practices for the 2008-09 season. He has since trimmed the tryout roster to 20. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Peter Benoite laughed when asked if Memorial University basketball fans could expect his success as a former Sea-Hawks star to translate into wins as the new Sea-Hawks coach.

"There are no guarantees," he replied. "Some former players have success as coaches and some don't. I think if you come in with a philosophy, it takes time.

"Then, it's going to take time."

The new coach says predicting wins and losses is going to be difficult, "But I think you'll see the effort level and the commitment turned around. Whether or not that translates into wins ...who knows?"

Chances are Benoite will get as much time as he needs to turn around a program that reached rock bottom last season, when MUN lost all of its 20 Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) games under coach Todd Aughey.

Aughey, who resigned in June, was 46-113 as head coach of the men's basketball team during his eight-year run.

Benoite returns to Memorial with a two-year contract after serving as an assistant coach with both the Sea-Hawks 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. He played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) last season as captain of the Halifax Rainmen.

"I think we can get it done," Benoite said about turning the team's fortunes around, before adding, "but the timeline could be two to five years.

"Still," he added optimistically, "If thing works out well, it could be this season."

Perhaps the first sign of a new era in MUN men's basketball was the large turnout at the team's first open workout.

There were 37 hopefuls at the first practice and Benoite thinks he knows why.

"With any open tryout and with any change in coaching, I think you are always going to get a lot more people who think they have a new opportunity," Benoite said, "Plus, because the team didn't do so well last year, a lot of people think they can play for us.

"We've got a lot of good kids and everyone who has shown up has worked really hard, so I'm pleased with that," added Benoite, who has since cut the list of would-be Sea-Hawks down to 20.

"I'll keep the 20 around for a few weeks," he said. "I want to see where the attitude is going. Are they going to work together? I want to see who commits to the work ethic. I want to see what their overall commitment is. We want to give them a good shot at making the team. In some ways, they'll cut themselves."

Benoite said the team "has a ways to go," but has some good starting points.

"Our average size isn't bad, but we're small inside," said Benoite. "We're hoping to play in ways that will compensate for that. We're going to be OK. Having some guy back makes us a bit more competitive than I thought we would be."

Returning to the fold after brief stints with the Sea-Hawks in recent years are George English, Andre Grant and Mark Woodland.

Newcomers Ryan McClusky and Mike Bowser of New Brunswick, Robbie Habib Nova Scotia, Aiwhan DeWaarte from Holland and Macio Justice from Detroit join returnees Nathan Dunn, Manny Wilby, Jason Sheppard, Justin Penney, Christian Somerton and Jeremy Somerton.

Benoite, who wouldn't say when he's finalize his roster, has added assistant coaches Martin Cull, who guided the Gonzaga Vikings high school team last year, and former Sea-Hawk Evan Constantine.

Memorial opens the new AUS season at home to the Dalhousie Tigers on Nov. 8.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

The Memorial University Ser-Hawks' 2008-09 Atlantic University Sport men's basketball schedule (number in brackets indicated points the game is worth):

Date Visitor Home Time

Saturday, Nov. 8 Dalhousie Memorial 8 p.m. (2)

Sunday, Nov. 9 Dalhousie Memorial 1 p.m. (2)

Saturday, Nov. 15 Memorial UPEI 8 p.m. (2)

Sunday, Nov. 16 Memorial UPEI 2 p.m. (2)

Saturday, Nov. 22 Acadia Memorial 8 p.m. (4)

Sunday, Nov. 23 Acadia Memorial 1 p.m. (4)

Saturday, Jan., 10 Memorial Cape Breton 8 p.m. (2)

Sunday, Jan., 11 Memorial Cape Breton 1 p.m. (2)

Saturday, Jan., 17 St. FX Memorial 8 p.m. (4)

Sunday, Jan., 18 St. FX Memorial 1 p.m. (4)

Saturday, Jan., 24 Memorial UNB 8 p.m. (4)

Sunday, Jan., 25 Memorial UNB 2 p.m. (4)

Saturday, Jan., 31 UPEI Memorial 8 p.m. (2)

Sunday, Feb., 1 UPEI Memorial 11:30 a.m. (2)

Saturday, Feb., 7 Memorial Dalhousie 8 p.m. (2)

Sunday, Feb., 8 Memorial Dalhousie 4 p.m. (2)

Friday, Feb., 13 Memorial Saint Mary's 8 p.m. (4)

Saturday, Feb., 14 Memorial Saint Mary's 3 p.m. (4)

Friday, Feb., 20 Cape Breton Memorial 8 p.m. (2)

Saturday, Feb., 21 Cape Breton Memorial 1 p.m. (2)

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Atlantic Universities Sport, American Basketball Association Dalhousie Tigers

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Holland, Detroit

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Recent comments

  • bob white
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    peter as MUN coach makes so much sense, for so many valid reasons. If ever there was a player who epitomized all that is good about effort, work ethic, commitment, talent, attitude, pride, drive and respect - it is Peter.
    hats off to MUN for making this choice, and hats off to Peter for taking this challenge.
    if success on the court doesn't happen this year, it will happen soon enough.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Heed my prophetic words. The MUN Seahawks will make the playoffs this year. Why? Because Peter Benoite is a winner.

    Jim Feltham from Pond Inlet NU

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Congratulations to Peter, if anyone can turn the team around it's him and congratulations to Mun for picking the right man for the job. Peter's humility drive, and experience make him the perfect choice to take the Seahawks to the next level.

  • Richard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    It's good to see that Memorial was able to choose its own basketball coach without Joan Burke or the Premier's permission.

  • bob white
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    peter as MUN coach makes so much sense, for so many valid reasons. If ever there was a player who epitomized all that is good about effort, work ethic, commitment, talent, attitude, pride, drive and respect - it is Peter.
    hats off to MUN for making this choice, and hats off to Peter for taking this challenge.
    if success on the court doesn't happen this year, it will happen soon enough.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Heed my prophetic words. The MUN Seahawks will make the playoffs this year. Why? Because Peter Benoite is a winner.

    Jim Feltham from Pond Inlet NU

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Congratulations to Peter, if anyone can turn the team around it's him and congratulations to Mun for picking the right man for the job. Peter's humility drive, and experience make him the perfect choice to take the Seahawks to the next level.

  • Richard
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    It's good to see that Memorial was able to choose its own basketball coach without Joan Burke or the Premier's permission.