The UPEI Panthers coaching staffs are beating the bushes trying to improve their basketball squads for the future.
Men’s coach Tim Kendrick and women’s bench boss Greg Gould have been visiting gyms across the province and around the region looking for talent for 2013-14 and beyond. With their teams not playing games for close to a month, it provides a little extra time to see high school players first-hand.
“It’s recruiting time for me and we’ll continue to do that until probably next fall,” Gould said Monday while working out a pair of players at the university.
Regina’s Brooke Lister and Allison Boyde of Windsor, N.S., took a tour of the campus and ran through a practice with the women’s team.
“This is just a scrimmage to see how they play, we’ll evaluate from there to see if they can help us,” Gould said.
“For us to be successful, we have to be trying to recruit the best players that are available, whether it’s in the Maritimes or whether it’s outside the Maritimes.”
Gould saw Lister at the under-17 nationals this summer after he was named the Panthers new coach. He spoke with her father and remains in contact with them.
The team has already received commitments from Charlottetown Rural’s Jessica Patenaude and Candace Smith, from Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. The Panthers have two fifth-year players, but Gould expects graduation could leave it looking for up to four players.
One area he would like to strengthen is the low post and Gould said he was going to speak with a player this week that could help in that area.
Gould said getting the players to work out with his players is crucial.
“I think that’s huge,” he said. “You’re not always sure at the high school level how they’re going to react when they come the next level because, it is a big jump.”
Kendrick has been to a couple of tournaments and has watched individual games. This time of the year he is making contact with players and building relationship with the region’s programs.
“I think it’s important for players in high schools in the Maritimes to see the UPEI coaches in the gym,” he said.
“There may not be a player on one team we are after right now, but that team, those coaches, the people around the team see UPEI in the gym and see them watching their games and taking an interest (in them) may bode very well for us in the future if there is someone we’re after.”
The team has only one fifth-year player, Jermaine Duke, but continues to look for talent to improve the club.
“We have a couple of things on the fire,” Kendrick said with his customary smile.
The team started a training camp Monday, which will see them in the gym twice a day until Thursday. The players will be back Dec. 27 and head to Toronto Dec. 28 for the Ryerson tournament.
Kendrick said the skill development session in the morning and the evening inter-squad scrimmages are important to keep the players sharp.
The team will be without guard Will Caesar to at least Jan. 5 with a shoulder injury.
u Men - 4-2, fourth in eight-team conference.
u Women - 1-5, seventh in eight-team conference.
u Men - Panthers playing in Ryerson tournament starting Dec. 28. They play Jan. 5 at Acadia and host Saint Mary’s Jan. 11 and 12.
u Women - Jan. 5 at Acadia. Panthers host Saint Mary’s Jan. 11 and 12.