It was a tough pill to swallow, but Western men’s basketball is looking at last year’s early exit with renewed optimism.
After turning some heads, and upsetting some unsuspecting opponents – the Mustangs closed out the year with a respectable record of 12-and 9 before bowing out in the preliminaries to Wilfrid Laurier.
Western comes into the 2015/16 season ranked sixth in the country and they understand the pressure that comes with that territory.
With a core of returning veterans, they’ll have their sights set a strong season – with a possibility at a national title.
Reflecting on last season
Head Coach, Brad Campbell feels last year’s playoff finish – sets the stage for what he hopes to be a thrilling season of basketball.
“We came up short, and it’s something that kind of sticks with you for a while,” Campbell said. “I think it’s been a little bit of fuel for our guys – especially over the summer and off-season – it’s something in the back of their mind – but I think that’s a good thing.”
Based on last season’s strong defensive presence, Western will hope their vets will add an element of offensive ability to complete the package.
The Mustangs look to start out on the right foot, but they’ll need all their players contributing in a way that compliments their own abilities – and is beneficial to the team as a whole.
Campbell says the potential of success has never been this high, adding that a lot of pressure will be on this squad to perform up to expectations.
“All of the sudden, we’re expected to win every game, and we’re a team that other teams are going to get up and play hard against,” Campbell chuckled, “Now we’re the marquee team that everyone is gunning for and looking to knock off.”
As marquee contenders, and ranked 6th nationally, there are going to be lots of teams looking to knock Western off its pedestal.
Campbell says that regardless of who’s over their shoulder, the goal remains the same for this squad.
“Our guys’ goal is to get to the Ontario final four, and play for a chance to go to the National championship,” Campbell said.
“I think however our season plays out, and the playoffs – we’ll probably feel we fell a little short if we didn’t accomplish that goal.”
Western will have a chance to show their skills when they kick off their season at home.
The Mustangs open the season tonight at Alumni Hall – when they play host to the Waterloo Warriors.
Tip off is at 8PM and you can find more information at www.westernmustangs.ca.