ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Fresh off their appearance in the 2017 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Final Four, the Brock Badgers are looking for even more during the 2017-18 season.
The Badgers took home a bronze medal last season in the OUA Playoffs, and were a top-five team in the country for the latter part of the season. They saw first-hand what it takes to win a gold medal, and with a strong core back for another go-round, this year could be the Badgers’ year on the hardwood.
Before the season gets going, the Badgers will play six exhibition games against Division I institutions from across the NCAA. Starting August 9th, the Badgers will play a pair of games on their home court, before heading to the Virgin Islands to play four more games against various NCAA opponents.
Playing top-tier opponents from the NCAA will put the Badgers to the test early on, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on their 2017-18 season.
Up first, on August 9th, the Badgers welcome the Binghamton Bearcats to town. Last season, the Bearcats finished with a 12-20 record overall, and just 3-13 in America East play.
In 2017-18, the Bearcats are led by a slew of experienced players, including seniors Dusan Perovic, Bobby Ahearn, and Willie Rodriguez, along with fifth-year senior Yosef Yacob. Look for sophomore guard Fard Muhammad to take a big step forwards in year two.
J.C. Show led the Bearcats in scoring last season, averaging 13.3 points per contest in 12 games. Rodriguez was the only other player to average double-digit points per game last season, putting up an average of 12.0 points per contest.
As a freshman, Muhammad averaged 5.6 points and 1.3 assists per game in just over 13 minutes of action per night. He has the potential to be an impact player with the Bearcats, and this year could be a breakout season for the native of Windermere, FL.
After their contest with the Bearcats, the Laurier Golden Hawks will take on Binghamton inside the Bob Davis Gymnasium on August 10th. Then, on August 13th, the Badgers square off with the Jacksonville Dolphins before they head to the Virgin Islands.
The Dolphins finished above .500 last season, putting together a record of 17-16 overall. They finished in 6th place in the Atlantic Sun standings with a record of 5-9.
Jacksonville’s roster will look considerably different in 2017-18 than it did the year prior, as J.R. Holder, Marcel White, and Darien Fernandez have all moved on from the program. All three were the top scorers for the Dolphins last season.
The top returning scorer is redshirt senior Devin Harris. The former East Tennessee State Buccaneers‘ guard averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game last season, his first with the Dolphins.
However, the likes of Tanner Rubio (8.9 ppg, 2.1 apg) and Cody Helgeland (8.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg) return for Jacksonville this season, plus they add former Palm Beach State Panthers star Josh Wallace (11.8 ppg, 3.1 apg).
In the absence of White and Holder, the Dolphins will turn to Helgeland and Jace Hogan to anchor the front court.
As for the Badgers, they have the pieces in place to make another run at the OUA Gold Medal, and earn a trip to Nationals.
They return a core group that is comprised of fifth-year forward Dani Elgadi, fourth-year guard Johneil Simpson fourth year forward Cassidy Ryan, second year guard Daniel Cayer,, and third year guard Tyler Brown.
Out of the five, Ryan was the only one who wasn’t a regular starter a year ago, but he will join the others to make up a formidable starting five that will rank up there with some .
Elgadi led the Badgers in scoring a year ago, averaging 14.7 points to go along with 10.3 rebounds. The 6’7” forward brings a combination of talent and experience to the roster, and will be looked upon to be a leader once more in 2017-18, while also providing guidance to the newcomers on the roster.
Ryan enters his second season with the Badgers following two seasons in the NCAA with the Canisius Golden Griffins. The native of Mississauga, ON averaged 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, while making two starts over the course of the year.
“Playing the NCAA opponents each season in the preseason is great exposure for our league,” said head coach Charles Kissi, in a release posted by the Badgers. “It also gives our players some great competition early on and is great for the overall team bonding.”
The Badgers finished last season with a 25-10 record, and took home the bronze medal at the OUA Championships in Ottawa, ON.
From there, the Badgers will head to the US Virgin Islands next week, where they will square off with the Vanderbilt Commodores, Northern Colorado Bears, and the James Madison Dukes twice to cap off the trip.
– T. Bennett