Despite losing leading scorers, SFU men’s basketball team is bigger and better

Dynamic new offence leads the Clan in 2018–19

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The Clan have multiple scorers that can heat up at any time. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

There are a lot of similarities between the men and women’s SFU basketball teams for this upcoming season. Like the women’s team, the men’s team is relatively young, with a lot of new faces in the locker room who will be looking to contribute from day one. Like the women’s team, we can expect the men’s team to improve throughout the season as they gel together. Like the women’s team, we can expect a dynamic offence from head coach Steve Hanson’s side, with a plethora of shooters than can heat up at any time. And like the women’s team, there are play-off expectations for the 2018–19 SFU men’s basketball team.

One of the main goals for the team this past offseason was to get more size inside. Julian Roche, a 6’11” transfer from Division I school Santa Clara, accomplishes the goal instantly. Joining him as the new faces for this Clan’s team are 6’8” NAIA transfer Jasdeep Singh, 6’7” freshman Jusuf Sehic, 6’7” freshman Sam Bailey, and 6’9” freshman Dominic Postle, none of whom would comfortably fit in your basement suite.

“Our conference is a big conference, and if you don’t have the size to match some of the bigger teams, you struggle. One of our biggest focuses this year is rebounding,” said Hanson on the size the team added this past offseason.

Other than adding size, however, one of the biggest stories surrounding the team are what they lost from last year. Their three leading scorers from the 2017–2018 season, Kedar Salam (20.4 points per game), JJ Pankratz (11.4 points per game), and Iziah Sherman-Newsome (10.3 points per game), have all graduated from the program.

Hanson does not see this as a negative, however, as the team will display a much more balanced offence than last season, where isolation plays were often drawn up for Salam. Furthermore, improvements from players such as junior guards Michael Provenzano and Othniel Spence, senior guard Jordan Muir-Keung, and returning sophomore swingman Graham Miller (who sat out last season with an ACL injury) should offset the departure of Salam’s scoring. Expect a dynamic offence from the Clan, one where the team isn’t carried by one player offensively, but rather finds the open man with regularity.

“We’re going to be an exciting team this year. On any given night we got a lot of guys that can light it up and shoot the basketball so we should be a pretty exciting team to watch,” said Hanson.

With the number of new faces on this year’s team, building team chemistry on the court will be a big factor in the team’s success. Hanson sees this, saying “gelling as a team defensively” is the group’s main goal heading into the beginning of the GNAC season at the end of November.

We will be able to see this process when the Clan hosts the first ever “SFU Showdown” tournament on Burnaby Mountain on November 16–17, where four NCAA DIV II teams, including SFU, will compete.  

After that, GNAC play will begin on November 29, and expectations for this year’s group are high.

“I think the GNAC is pretty wide open, but every night is just going to be a dogfight. I think we lost four our five games last year by less the four points. We have to win those games this year if we want to be a playoff team and that’s our goal,” said Hanson.

With the strong new recruits, the return of Miller, and a year of improvement from the returning players, we may see a lot of success from the year’s Clan.

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