Holland College squad is still feeling the sting of finishing runner-up at last year's tournament
Steve Hardy watched a gold medal slip away last year.
He is looking to write a different ending this week at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's basketball championships beginning today in Squamish, B.C.
"I want that gold medal," Hardy said before leaving Charlottetown. "We could have had it last year. This will be my last three games I'll ever play (and) I want to keep playing (those) three games."
The Holland College Hurricanes start tonight at 5 p.m. against the Vanier Cheetahs, a CEGEP school from Quebec, which Hardy said has a talented group of young players.
"We're just going to go out there and use our old-man strength and not stop until they quit," he said.
The Hurricanes got on a roll during the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) championships a year ago and carried it right through to the national title game.
It was Holland College's first trip to nationals and the Hurricanes know teams won't be looking past them this week in B.C.
"I certainly don't believe we'll sneak up on anybody this year," said Josh Whitty, who is in his first year as the head coach after serving as George Morrison's assistant. "I think teams are well aware that we're going to be tough. I don't think anybody is taking us lightly."
Hardy is one of a number of key players returning from last year's squad. The list includes forward Chase Bowden and guards Alvin Parker and Jake Kendrick.
The team augmented the talented returnees with experienced players like Orlando Palmer, Aaron Evans and Eamon Morrissy.
They went 17-4 in regular-season play to finished second in ACAA before knocking off two teams ranked in the national top-10 list to claim the conference title.
Whitty said the team has eight to 10 players it can turn to depending on the situation. The depth is key to playing the up-tempo style it likes to operate.
"When we move the ball and push the pace we're tough to stay on top of," he said. "When we're able to play transition basketball is when we're really scary."
It has played four guards with Bowden with success because of the guards' skill set and size coupled with Bowden's length and ball-handling ability.
Hardy said the flexibility creates matchup difficulties for teams.
"You take one thing away that just leaves another thing open," he said. "We have a guys who do a lot of different things well."
Two things the Hurricanes are looking to improve upon from the ACAA championships are its starts and shooting.
"First quarters haven't been the best for us," Morrissy said. "Playing at the national level that can be detrimental."
While the team is deep the players don't complain about minutes. They go in and perform when called upon.
"That just goes to show what kind of character is on the team," Hardy said. "The one thing that fixes everything is winning."
"At the end of the year, everybody remembers who the champions are, they don't necessarily remember who were the all-stars were."
When They Play
The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men's basketball championship is taking place at Quest University in Squamish, B.C. All times ADT.
Game 1 - Vanier Cheetahs (4) vs. Holland Hurricanes (5), 5 p.m.
Game 2 - Langara Falcons (1) vs. Concordia Thunder (8), 7 p.m.
Game 3 - Sheridan Bruins (2) vs. Quest Kermodes (7), 10:30 p.m.
Game 4 - Red Deer Kings (3) vs. Crandall Chargers (6), 12:30 a.m. Friday
Game 5 - Losers of game 1 and 2, 5 p.m.
Game 6 - Losers of game 3 and 4, 7 p.m.
Game 7 - Winners of game 1 and 2 (semifinal), 10:30 p.m.
Game 8 - Winners of game 3 and 4 (semifinal), 12:30 a.m. (Saturday)
Game 9 - Losers of game 7 & Winners of game 6, 2 p.m.
Game 10 - Losers of game 8 vs. Winners of game 5, 4 p.m.
Game 11 - Losers of game 5 and 6 (seventh/eighth place), 6 p.m.
Game 12 - Winners of game 9 and 10 (bronze medal), 10:30 p.m.
Game 13 - Winners of game 7 and 8 (gold medal), 12:30 a.m.
Hurricanes leading scorers:
Chase Bowden, 19.6
Alvin Parker, 15.6
Orlando Palmer, 15.4
Jake Kendrick, 14.5
Eamon Morrissy, 10
Steve Ethelson, 7.6
Aaron Evans, 7.4
Steve Hardy, 5
Ali Abdulaziz, 4
Shawn Lucas, 3.8
Jacob Simmons, 3.4
Kyle Welton, 2.6
Source - www.ccaa.ca