Basketball team prepares for a new season

Team hopes to build cohesion as they return to the court

October brings basketball back to campus, as the University of Winnipeg Wesmen men’s squad is evaluating players and making final roster cuts during their pre-season schedule.

Over the last few weeks, the team has been challenged with several injuries.

“There is a good core group of guys returning and we are waiting for a few guys to get healthy so they can be acclimated with the rest of the team,” Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault says.

As such, the Wesmen are coming together as a group.

“Our group of 16 guys has been finalized where guys slot in, and the roster spots are still up in the air, which will be sorted out within the next few weeks,” Raimbault, who is heading into his eighth season behind the bench, says.

The Wesmen will see at least a dozen returning players to the group of 16 and have recently graduated two senior players over the off-season.

The team has yet to have a full practice with everyone healthy enough to play.

“Cohesion will be the area of focus for the team, it’s a learning on the fly kind of experience when you have players returning from injury,” Raimbault says.

Fourth-year point guard Denzel Soliven says he feels optimistic about the team’s progression as a group.

Soliven is currently recovering from a partial meniscus tear, and he says his rehab after five weeks of post-operation is going well.

“Based on the team’s personnel, our team seems smaller, but we have more players that can put the ball on the floor and create plays,” Soliven says. “I feel like we can finish top four in the conference and improve our record with the team this season.”

The Wesmen finished 12-8 last season, with eight of those wins coming at home.

Raimbault and Soliven both encourage students to come out and watch the Wesmen play.

“The entertainment value is certainly high for a university level, and when there is a large student body present, the excitement is greater. It will make you want to come back and watch more games,” Raimbault says.

“Out of the four years that I have been a part of the team, I feel the team has a really strong lineup, and there is a lot of potential to do well this season,” Denzel says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 19, 2017)

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